Our team looked at a few videos of Don Norman speaking about design. The below video seems very related to the Design of Everyday Things reading:
We thought the very beginning of this summed up much about design when he says "You have to design for the people." The salt and pepper shaker example shows that we have to consider what we are designing for, and who will be using it. It doesn't matter which one you think is salt... it matters which one the person who filled it thinks is salt. The idea of WHO you're designing for also relates to our discussions on community. If only one person interprets the use of an artifact (or its affordances) in a certain way, others will either not know how to use the artifact, or will be frustrated because it does not work the way they expect it to (if they identify different affordances). In a way, the community negotiates and determines what is good design.
When we negotiate meanings within our community, we are communicating with the social system. So when we interpret the use of an artifact, we are under influence of the social system, our community. Other members' interpretation and norms of the community both play a role in the process of our negotiation of meaning. If affordances cannot be visible and compatible to the social system it is hard to diffuse in the social system. That's why a designer has to at least understand the social system for his/her designs. This is proved by many famous popular creative inventions that they are compatible to social norms, human psychological models, or physical customs.
- Are there social norms to help identify affordances and the meanings of those affordances(one hole and many holes)? What are the affordances of the shakers that contribute or not contribute to the negotiation of meanings?
- What are the everyday things of the learning environment? How have they been optimized for their purpose? Consider the affordances of a blackboard. Its writing surface is high-contrast. It's easy to erase. Chalk is cheap, and even when it breaks it still works. It does one thing very well. Now consider a "smartboard". Would a typical student know what to do without any training if a teacher called her to the front of the class to demonstrate a concept? At what point do the affordances of such technologies actually start to counteract their value? Chalk can't change colors, but it also doesn't run out of batteries. What is the process of diffusion of such an innovation as a smartboard through a typical school district, and is it always consistent with improving learning, or are there other factors (prestige, etc.)?
A personal example from Yunjeong relating design and affordances to community- In my first year of ph.d here at Penn State, I was surprised that almost all computers in our school lab were Mac rather than pc. I feel alienated because I didn't have a Mac at that time and didn't know how to use it. Finally I got a Mac and was worried about if I could use it well. I didn't read any manual but I finally came to use it with ease. Now I feel more like being a Penn State student (sounds funny though) and belonging to this community.
Related to learning, we thought about the conversation we had in class about a constructivist way of teaching math. In the past, we memorized the times tables; even if given explanations of the multiplication rules, most students just memorized the tables. It's faster to see learning outcomes when a student can correctly repeat the answer to a multiplication question from memory. Compared with memorization, constructivist teaching on math takes a longer period of time to see the learning outcome. Parents may think this is less effective to learn math so that may hope schools could abandon this new teaching paradigm. This could be an example of difficulty with diffusion of the innovation because the community is not willing to accept the change.
Our group also talked a bit about the idea of what Norman calls the technology paradox. In the reading, Norman emphasizes the importance of usability, meaning a design is for people to use. Usability is extremely important. But, of course, aesthetics and cost are also put into consideration. Norman calls it as technology paradox. In his later work, including "Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things" Norman's studies showed that things work "better" when they're attractive. More on that topic in the following video (it's a bit long, but you can get the general idea by just watching a few minutes).
This paradox does not only happen in the design industry but also in educational contexts. Take For example, in language learning, there are a lot of language games to be used in class that can be found online. However, not every game reinforces learning outcomes. Even those who do not aim at having fun could turn out bringing fun to class more than improving learning outcomes.
Questions we asked ourselves:
- How do affordances and aesthetics interact?
- Does a "beautiful" item appear to have more affordances? Are more affordances better?
- How do simplicity, affordances, and aesthetics interact?
think "beauty" in educational design related to play. i.e. making a
design beautiful is akin to making it fun, and something someone would
want to "play" with. Play is a very important part of discovery. So if
we're designing objects, tools, etc. for learning, we should ensure
that they are aesthetically pleasing (to get attention, create positive
feelings about it) and conducive to play, to ensure students are
motivated to engage with it, engage with it emotionally, and use their
creativity to discover its affordances so that the full learning
potential is realized. If
we can make discovery "fun", students are emotionally more engaged.
Beauty (or Fun) can be related to motivation. Motivation is important
in learning that makes the learning environment more sustainable.