Documentation Toolkit

Overview

As students enter the end of their Fall semester, learning becomes fully remote. This means that many students might not have the useful resources to help them document their work. This includes photobooths, printers and scanners, as well as white boards to flesh out their ideas. Although, we may not have the capabilities of offering remote spaces like as a solution, we can deliver IDEATE students toolkits that offer alternative tools.

Timeline

October - December 2020

Tools Used

Laser cutter, cardboard, UPO paper

Skills

Physical prototyping, storyboarding, sketching

Mentors
Role

Design researcher, product designer

The Problem

The Challenges of Remote Teaching & Learning

As students enter the end of their Fall semester, learning becomes fully remote. This means that many students might not have the useful resources to help them document their work. This includes photobooths, printers and scanners, as well as white boards to flesh out their ideas. Although, we may not have the capabilities of offering remote spaces like as a solution, we can deliver IDEATE students toolkits that offer alternative tools.

As I interviewed a makerspace professor on the challenges of remote learning, she also talked about how much of her class activities has changed to accommodate activities that can be delivered to students in a package as well as modified so that students can also use home materials as part of the project. Other challengers was how it was more difficult seeing the progression of student's work or knowing the general mood of the class.

Research

Tools that students use currently

  • Affinity mapping (sticky notes)

  • White boards for brainstorming, concept mapping

  • Sketchbook (pens)

  • Camera, phones

  • Scanners and printers

  • Lighting booth

  • Audio recordings 

  • A variety of digital and online tools: figma, mural, miro, 

Identifying the key elements in documentation

  • Noticing: learning to look with an expert/disciplinary eye

  • Reflection: on design moves, and next steps

  • Articulation: telling yourself (e.g. journaling) or others about your design story

  • Critique/feedback: formal or informal moments to get others (peers/expert others) attention on your emerging design ideas or artifacts to drive the design forward. 

Exploring Toolkit Items

Macro Lens

Learning Objectives

Problem:  Many components look almost identical. Novice students do not recognize this or struggle to distinguish them. Photos of circuit boards are often far away and fail to reveal salient specific details. 

 

  • Support close looking at components (being able to read details on small parts and distinguish nearly identical parts)

  • Support better documentation of circuits (up-close details of how a circuit is composed) 

    • For project documentation

    • For process documentation

    • For help seeking

Learning Objectives

Problem: Many circuits are inconsistently documented. A top down approach and consistent view would allow for comparison across students. 

Problem: During office hours students need to show circuits and get help while manipulating components. Hard with webcam in a remote context. Needs hands to be free too. 

 

  • Support consistent comparable documentation of final circuits for project documentation 

  • Provide a hands-free, consistent view of circuits to enable productive help seeking

Popup Tripod

Learning Objectives

Problem: Students may not have the space in their own homes when school turns fully remote to take photos of their work in good light and have a consistent background. Giving them an easy assembly of components to create their own lighting booth can allow students to document their final products and have it look more finalized.

 

  • Allow students to have professional looking images of final products

Light Box

Documentation Guide

Learning Objectives

Problem: Students learning remotely may not get the experience to learn how to take good final photos of their work or learn how to take photos of their work in a home environment. Have a manual that provides easy tips on this can reduce the work for professors and provide students helpful examples they can look back to.

 

  • Teach students on good documentation skills (especially at home environments)

Toolkit Unpacking Experience

To create an experience upon opening the documentation toolkit, I wanted to design the packaging so that once you open the lid, you would see the introduction of what the toolkit is about and why it's relevant. Smaller items could also be attached to the lid or placed with the larger tools on the bottom. Each element in the toolkit would be organized so that it was visibly separated from the rest and be placed with their own instruction sheets. 

Prototyping

Pilot Toolkit Experience

Intro brief and instruction sheets

Logistics

Costs

One student

Cardboard $1.7 x 2 

Tracing Paper ~$10 (a roll)

Sticky notes ($8 for 24), notecards 12$ (10 packs of 100 cards)

Upo paper ($3 for 2 lightboxes) 

Macro lens ($1)

12" x 14" x 3/4"  exterior box ~$8

= ~$16

30 students =~$480

Feedback

After showing this to professors, I received positive responses stating how a remote learning toolkit would be very helpful. Especially when I described the instruction sheets and photo documentation manual, they seemed most interested. They mentioned to keep the guide short with key advice on how to take documentation photos, with at home/outside environments, and overall tips on how to think and show process work. This would be especially relevant to students that do not have as much experience in this.  

In Progress & Future Steps

Currently, I'm waiting on the feedback of the students who received the toolkits. Their feedback would be able to help guide me in understanding other tools they need based on findings such as which documentation tool they used most frequently and how they used a tool. 

My next steps are...

• Combining the popup tripod with light box design

• Creating the documentation guide for photos

• Researching more on remote teaching for professors and the challenges they face

• Incorporating the feedback students into the next iteration of tools

• Refine branding of toolkit

References:

Macro lens from Amazon

Pop up scanner from https://www.popsci.com/article/diy/build-smartphone-scanner-digitize-your-notes/ 

© Patricia Yu