documenting design courses

Design Courses
teaching and documenting design courses in an elementary school

A few weeks ago I partnered with Pauline Gourlet, Juliette Mancini and Ferdinand Dervieux to start building a platform coupled with a physical installation to document on the productions of schoolchildren in design courses in elementary school. This platform enables children to take pictures of their works, upload them to a personal space and publish them for other children of the class to see. A (upcoming) commenting system allows them to present and give feedbacks on one another’s works, and also to explain the evolution of their ideas and projects.

Design Courses The installation is made out of wood and uses velcro to allow different setups depending on the projects. The GoPro camera and two LED light sources are also covered in velcro for easy re-positioning by the young designers. Design Courses

The first lesson with the first group of would-be designers focused on learning the basics of electronic circuits with conductive plasticine plugged into LEDs, actuators, and buzzers. The children had to pair up and create meaningful forms with those components. They then used the device to shoot pictures of their work and upload them in the app.

Pauline teaching the basics of electronics. The red plasticine conducts electricity while the green plasticine does not, so children can create elaborate circuits by combining the two. They could also add small LEDs, motors and buzzers to the plasticine. Design Courses

A first version of the app used during this lesson allows for the creation of profile pages with editable names and descriptions, and the upload of up to three different photos for each profile. These photos are taken with a GoPro camera, loaded via wifi and displayed live in the app where children can add them to their own gallery.

Another lesson with a second group took place yesterday and was focused on teaching the principles of typography.

A screenshot of the app for the typography course. The app is made of a single screen with all the data dynamically loaded and stored with AJAX to a local JSON file. Design Courses One of the child using the modules to generate letter forms. While the constraints were high for this exercice (two random modules per person) most of the letters were really interesting and thoughtful. Design Courses Pauline looks while Muhamed uploads his letters to his profile. Design Courses

The platform is still a work in progress, and it is developed with inputs from the children: either with specific requests for certain features, or by analyzing logs of their interactions with the computer. An app called ScreenFlow runs in the background and records what is shown on the screen, the movement of the mouse cursor and the face and voice of the user. This helps gather feedbacks and observing trials and errors experienced by the children in the interface.

These projects (conductive plasticine and composing typefaces) will be shown from May 20th to May 25th at the Designer’s Day in Paris along with the documentation tool.

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