Article content

4 | WHAT IF?

POSTPONED to February 2018

To be completed the week of December 4, 2017.


Working in small groups, students use the supplied What If prompts to imagine possibilities for making Afterglow more accessible. The What If Activity uses improv techniques to push the students to approach Afterglow in new ways.

Generative User-centered Design Methods invite the user to join in the making process, to co-design with designers and other stakeholders. Improv asks participants to build a world on the fly as they respond to the performance of their partners. Both improv and user-centered design approaches embrace the possibility of failure and the value of ideation. Designers sometimes utilize the unscripted, performative nature of improv as they frame Generative Design activities.

30 minute activity in class.

What If prompts
Audio clip of What If session
Student access to Google Docs for taking notes on each round

Prepare prompts so that they might be randomly distributed to student groups.

Students learn to use improv techniques as an ideation tool
Students acquire a basic understanding of how generative design methods—as opposed to investigative methods— fit within the larger user-centered design process.

Instructor divides students into small groups of 4-5 and then randomly distributes three What If prompts to each group. Students should not be allowed to select prompts. Students should only read and respond to one prompt at a time (3-5 min)
Instructor reads through the What If Activity instructions and plays the audio clip of the following sample What If session:

*Example of What If in use by a 5 member group: Member 1: “What if Afterglow responded differently when you moved closer or farther away from it?” Member 2: “What if Afterglow got warmer the closer you moved to it?” Member 3: “What if warmer meant you wanted to see more detailed data?” Member 4: “What if the details were too hard to see?” Member 5: “What if you could make it do something else by moving to the right or left?” Member 1: “What if right or left meant yes or no?” Member 2: “What if you could exercise as you used Afterglow?” Member 3: “What if you stood on a sensor pad?” Member 4: What if different zones of pad did different things?” Member 5: “What if the pad could respond back to you?”

Instructor reminds the students to document their results. Each group should go through 2 main prompts, as specified in the student instructions, before they stop. (6 min)
Instructor asks each group to read back the results of both their What If sessions to one another and then together select one intriguing idea from the results.
Each group begins a new What If round that begins with the selected idea. Like before, the prompt and each response should begin with What If. (3 min)
Instructor asks some of the groups to read back the results of their What If sessions: the round that produced the intriguing idea and the subsequent round building from that idea. Discuss as a class using the Engagement Questions. (10 min)

Which prompts led the group to the most unexpected place? Do you find this process useful? Why or why not?
Do you think any of the ideas could be used to improve Afterglow (i.e. make it more useful, usable and desirable for BVI students)? Please explain.

Collection the documentation of each group’s responses. Share these responses with the iData team.

Exchange prompts between groups to continue the exercise with new prompts. Experiment with combining different participants to form new groups and consider how the group makeup changes the process and outcomes.



Student Instructions for the What If Activity:
The first member of the group reads the first supplied prompt aloud.
Another member of the group builds on this first idea, beginning their addition with the phrase: “What If…” Be sure to expand upon the previous student’s ideas. Never contradict them.
Continue moving around the group, each member adding on to this original idea using the phrase “What If.” Do not ask the previous group member in the round questions about their response, just listen, interpret it as you will and build upon it in your answer.
Once everyone has spoken twice, continue with the idea if the results seem fruitful. If not, move on to the next prompt.
Designate one group member to document your What Ifs in Google Docs as you go.
After your group has responded to two prompts, work as group to select one resulting What If that is rich with possibilities. Go through a 3rd round as a group using this new What If as your starting prompt. Document the results and be ready to discuss.
What If Prompts
1. What if you could physically manipulate an Afterglow image with your hands?
2. What if Afterglow had a customizable personality?
3. What if Afterglow learned from your behavior?
4. What if you could only interact with Afterglow using sounds? (not language, just sounds)
5. What if Afterglow communicated image data to you only through song?
6. What if Afterglow responded differently when you moved closer or farther away from it?
7. What if you had a special tool for reading images in Afterglow?
8. What if you could receive data from Afterglow using smell?
9. What if two people always had to work together to use Afterglow?
10. What if Afterglow was a robot?
11. What if Afterglow was something that you got inside of to operate?
12. What if you could train Afterglow like a dog?
13. What if each time someone used Afterglow, electricity was produced?
14. What if you used a stationary bike to communicate with Afterglow?
15. What if an alien intelligence was watching you through Afterglow?
16. What if Afterglow rewarded you for certain behavior?
17. What if Afterglow was a game?
18. What if Afterglow was dangerous?
19. What if Afterglow communicated image data through your clothing?
20. What if you had to interact with Afterglow without hands or voice?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *