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A Peek Under Our Skirts: Behind the Prototyping MOOC

By Karla Schlaepfer
designkit, design thinking, ideo, mooc, novoed, prototyping

What happens when two busy Design Thinking professionals (Karla, Pia and later Astrid) sign up for an IDEO Design Kit course on prototyping? This accredited NovoEd MOOC (Mass Open Online Course) ran for 4 weeks, international teams participated and completed assignments which were then uploaded onto the course social platform. We were intrigued by the setup of the multi-channel MOOC and wanted to try it out first hand. Yes, it was a rush – but in the end a totally inspiring experience!

So, what did we learn?

  • It is FUN to be a participant 🙂 - Rapid prototyping and testing rocks! We built quick mock-ups, making our thinking real and in just a few hours, we travelled from Customer Journey to model to testing with friends and gained useful feedback to refine our ideas. - Creativity is truly stoked by collaboration, even if it is a mini design team of three. - Product, service and environmental or field prototyping methods; similarities and differences.

How did the IDEO/Acumen DesignKit Prototyping course work?

There are weekly units with course reading material and workshop assignments with clear input and planning  instructions. This DesignKit course is designed to facilitate easy interaction with other prototype course takers too. Videos, photos, case studies and further links provide more information and examples. It is UX Design prototyping made simple.

We organized everyday creative prototyping materials to make mock-ups. Our first assignment was an individual travel kit for an ideal vacation spot. It felt unusual and a little weird to be on the other side; to have time constraints, scramble for the scissors and be nervous about “getting it right”. As a trainer, it is good and instructive to remember how our real-world course participants must often feel!

The Acumen course gave us guidelines for the assignments and we had the right amount of input to carry out the development and the testing via outlined process steps  Improving health was the overarching subject for all the course assignments. And within this topic, the teams could specify their own individual ideas to work on. Of course, the general topic of improving health is international and beneficial regardless of the cultural context so it was a good choice. We choose to work on positive emotional fitness and designed prototypes on how to recognize and positively influence mood and  happiness. It was a win-win situation. We felt good and so did our testers!

Improving health was the general focus for all our assignments, yet for each kind of prototype we took a different perspective from our initial seed ideas. This meant we designed different kinds of prototype experiences with similar ideas instead of digging deeper and developing one idea further. This lead to lots of prototypes and testing but also to a certain superficiality. We would have liked to try to go further with one of our prototypes.

Change approach to allow for deeper involvement with one series of iterated prototypes.

Best takeaway?

We stretched ourselves to make our ideas more tangible in the world, tested them in real contexts and got insightful feedback from the people we were designing for.

Best inspiration?

The testers who came to our field prototype “Department of Happiness” – it was gratifying how happy people can be with the right approach, a little time and empathy.

IDEO/Acumen DesignKit Prototype course will be offered again in 2016.

For more info on prototyping and links, see our recent blog post: Fast and Furious – Don’t Fall in Love With Your First Try! Perfect Rapid Prototyping?!