Department of Art and Design

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    When design is inspired by theatre: acting techniques as prospective design methods
    (2021) Roberge, Jacynthe; Sperano, Isabelle; Rivenbark, Leigh; Rubio, Daniel Caja
    In acting training, psychophysical exercises are used to strengthen the relationship between mind and body, thus fostering a deeper understanding of the character [1]. Intrigued and inspired by the potential value of these techniques in design contexts, we explored their application for interaction designers as research methods in a pedagogical setting. To do so, we first created a single-session workshop that introduced design students to basic actor movement techniques in the winter of 2019. The goal of the workshop was to help students empathize with their users and discover solutions when designing digital products. Later, in the fall of 2020, we used reflections from the first activity to develop two longer workshops; both consisted of three sessions and were carried out consecutively in two different universities. In this article, we present a case study of those three workshops. After discussing considerations for the evolution of the workshops, we describe how each was conducted. Finally, we share our findings and insights that arose throughout the process.
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    Teaching acting techniques to designers: observe, embody, create
    (2021) Sperano, Isabelle; Rivenbark, Leigh; Roberge, Jacynthe; Rubio, Daniel Caja
    To design quality digital products, designers need to understand the user and their experiences on a deep level (Ritter et al. 2014). To do so, design practitioners have developed research methods that mainly focus on an “intellectual” approach to gain insight through quantitative research and analysis. While useful, these approaches often undervalue the role of the body in the process of understanding the user. In response to this, a more embodied approach to user research has emerged. Methods such as roleplaying and bodystorming are increasingly used to gain new kinds of insight during the design process (Burns et al. 1994, Schleicher et al. 2010, Wakkary et al. 2007). However, designers often encounter limitations with these methods (Think Design 2021). Some have trouble engaging in role-playing exercises due to a lack of acting training. Others struggle to apply insights to their work. Our team developed a workshop for design students exploring how acting techniques can be used as design methods to address these challenges. It was conducted in interaction design classes (Winter 2019 and Fall 2020) in 2 universities. Our goal at the Interaction Design Education Summit 2021 was to present this workshop to design instructors and practitioners so they can share it with their students or design teams. In this article, we describe an overview of the workshop and discuss potential benefits, challenges, and limitations of this approach to design.
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    Creative, interdisciplinary undergraduate research: an educational cell biology video game designed by students for students
    (2020) Sperano, Isabelle; Shaw, Ross; Andruchow, Robert; Cobzas, Dana; Efird, Cory; Brookwell, Brian; Deng, William
    In a three-year, practice-based, creative research project, the team designed a video game for undergraduate biology students that aimed to find the right balance between educational content and entertainment. The project involved 7 faculty members and 14 undergraduate students from biological science, design, computer science, and music. This nontraditional approach to research was attractive to students. Working on an interdisciplinary practice-based research project required strategies related to timeline, recruitment, funding, team management, and mentoring. Although this project was time-consuming and full of challenges, it created meaningful learning experiences not only for students but also for faculty members.
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    Beak Disorder: a sound and sculpture installation
    (2018) Sharpe, Leslie
    This paper discusses Leslie Sharpe's sound and sculpture installation project "Beak Disorder," exhibited at Manizales, Columbia for Balance-Unbalance 2016. The work addresses how anthropogenic climate change may be affecting birds in the Pacific Northwest regions of Canada and the United States. "Beak Disorder" is a project that references an unexplained condition documented in birds in the Northwest of Canada and Alaska called "avian keratin disorder" where the bird's beak becomes distorted and elongated. The work includes a series of 3D printed distorted beaks as well as a sound piece and web component.
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    The content audit: who should conduct it?
    (2019) Sperano, Isabelle; Andruchow, Robert
    A content audit is an assessment method widely used in content strategy to identify, describe, quantify, and evaluate the content quality of a website or of a larger information space. The use of content audits has grown in the last several years, mainly due to the increasing complexity of digital information ecosystems (websites, social media, wearables, etc.). To this day, very little research has been conducted on this method. However, the content audit is widely described and discussed in a large body of literature, mostly written by content strategy, information architecture (IA), and user experience (UX) professionals. These publications can constitute a rich ground for initiating a more formalized reflection about this method. This realization led us to a further examination of a corpus of 200 publications (books, Web pages, blog articles, journal articles) about content audits. These results are part of a larger study about content audits that aimed to present an in-depth examination of them as a digital information assessment method. Many dimensions of the method were analyzed (audit definitions and types, audit activities, audit criteria, etc.).