Yes, I’m guilty of procrastination for this design journal entry. Not for the typical excuses, though. Somehow I had it set in my mind that I would create my post-it prototype and report about it here. Then I couldn’t seem to wrap my head around a unifying theme or structure. My project was trapped in a loose scrapbook style despite all my efforts. Finally, my friend Pamela stepped in and brainstormed with me and the theme, title, and structure emerged: Tapestry of Love was born.
Nelson and Stolterman (2003) emphasize that “design is to cause things and/or people to stand together as a unified whole—a composition” (p. 207). This was the real hurdle for me to create my prototype. Just like in a scrapbook you bring mementos, photos, and words together to create something cohesive, my project needs to do more than just document the lives of four people I love. It needs to display “emergent qualities which transcend the qualities of the elements in isolation or summation” (p. 208). I have been looking for more than an arrangement of post-it notes. I have been searching for the “satisfying sense of wholeness” that comes from a composition where everything relates and all details contribute to the whole (p. 222).
Like most answers to ongoing questions, I can’t believe I didn’t think of a tapestry sooner. I often describe the loss of my mom as an important, albeit dark thread in the fabric of my life. I have also felt drawn to the idea of a thread from my grandmother to my mother, sister, and niece. Not just threads from being related or giving birth, but threads among their characteristics. Threads woven, not straight stitched. So I chose three of those characteristics shared by all four and will weave them together in my project: inspiration, encouragement, and laughter. This helped me create a title slide and also develop how the animation will move for the viewer of the project.
I understand this project does not need to teach anything per se. However, I would like to do some light teaching through the lives of my grandmother and my mother. This can be difficult to design and to accomplish since I’m trying to affect the attitude of the viewer. I am hoping to do more than show my family; I aim to encourage the viewer to look within their own tapestry for threads and lessons. Silber (2002) explains that you can recall facts without understanding concepts. Truly knowing a concept, “one can classify new objects, actions, or ideas” (p. 31). I feel this is applies to my project. Simply presenting my loved ones becomes unknown pictures on a page, but developing a story from them, a tapestry, can help the viewer find the stories and lessons in their own lives.
Both my EDIT6170E project and this studio project are challenging because they are clearly ill-structured problems. My tapestry project has vaguely-defined goals and unstated constraints. There are an infinite number of solution paths depending on each individual viewer. Relationships between the threads in their tapestries are inconsistent even over time for any given viewer. There is no start and no end and no “explicit means for determining appropriate actions” (Silber, p. 33). This leads me, the designer, to use inductive strategies with the hopes my viewer will synthesize my approach to learning from my mother and apply it in their own way and time to their own journey.
Outside the realm of my studio project, I was most inspired by Silber’s approach to the errors learners make during the learning process: “Use the errors learners make in problem solving as evidence of misconceptions, not just carelessness or random guessing. If possible, determine the probable misconception and correct it” (2002, p. 35). This is what I tried to do as an educator and I would like to carry this mindset into my work as an instructional designer.
So I am once again happy with my progress. Even though I have avoided writing this entry, I have not stopped working for a moment. Knowing the right idea would come and that the post-it notes would fall into place, I delved into my store of photographs learning all sorts of Photoshop skills. I feel it’s important to keep working through dry spells, through blocks and questions. That’s how answers find their way to the table to take the work to its next stage.
Nelson, H. & Stolterman, E. (2003). Composition. In The design way (pp. 207–223). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Silber, K.H. (March, 2002). Using the cognitive approach to improve problem-solving training. Performance Improvement, 41(3), 26-36.