Session 7: Midterm presentations.

I love midterm presentations. It launches the transitional period in which I start stepping back, and the students start shaping the class in their own way. Our guest critic David Briggs, a director of digital marketing, said that the presentations were inspiring and energizing, and I completely agree. Many senses and many scales were considered by this wide range of projects, and it’s always exciting to see ideas start to coalesce into solutions. We’ve spent quite a bit of class time exploring various urban and environmental issues, as well as some of the technologies that can be used to explore these issues. It was great to see this reflected strongly in all of the midterm projects.

Going forward, I noticed two common weak spots that I aim to address in the remainder of the term. One was a lack of research literature review. Leaving this part out often makes a project seem naive, uninformed, or underdeveloped, so we will spend a future session going through an example process of lit review.

The other weakness is a lack of consideration for a user or audience: who the user is, what the user wants, when and how the user will interact with the project. Persona design, play testing, and user testing are all important parts of this process. We have some great guest lecturers for this topic in April, which will hopefully allot enough time for students to address this aspect of their projects.

Conceptualizing and making an initial prototype is hard work, and there are a lot of facets that must be addressed just to get to that first prototype. I think many developers, myself included, spend so much initial time focusing on technical and functional issues that we overlook how important conceptual validation is at the earliest stage. I’d like to get some feedback in class as to how to tackle validation earlier on.