Interaction Design Process — Week 1

Into the field

The first week of the new module Interaction Design Process was about meeting the topic for the next six weeks, going into field research and convert the collected data into something useful by using sense making techniques.


Introduction, brainstorming, team bulding and preparation for field resarch.

“How to change the world?”

This will be the main topic for our work during the next six weeks, if we take this question literally or rhetorical is up to us.

My notes for the discussion we had about this topic includes the question of what does change mean, what kind of changes (to the world) happened in the past, about the enlightenment in the 18th century that changed the world, about top-down and buttom-up processes and that none of them is always the right one. And further about doubting that a problem equals a soluation or one person can bring the solution.

Notes during class about “how to change the world?”

Design Ethnographie & Video

We learn about methods to gather material on a topic by interviewing, shadowing or observation. Its important to know, which method suits the situation and the wanted outcome. For preparation before a field research, a few questions should be answered to be sure where to go and who to ask which questions.

Notes for video in design and field research

Team building

Based on our similar interests and ideas for “how to change the world”, our group was formed. Alessia, Katharina, Aurelian and myself started to think of an field to work with. Soon we began to focus on communication and information in a field where this is very important and therefore improvements could been done. We thought of hospitals, retirement homes, schools, refugee camps and even libraries, as an interesting field to do field research.

After some discussions we could agree to go deeper into the field of refugee camps as this is a very omnipresent topic and definitely a place where communication and information is important as well as probably improvable. It provides a lot of different questions that could be further investigated, e.g. communication between refugees with different culture beckground and different language, communication between refugees in a community and “the outer world”,or information that is proved for refugees from the goverment.


First field research and sense making

The first page of the interview sheet we quickly wrote for a guideline

First field research

In the morning of the second day, we did already our first field research in an area close to the school where refugees temporarly live in containers before they are able to find a apartment to stay permanently. Not sure what to expect we headed there with a couple of questions wrote down for an interview and the camera to capture what we will find. We didnt bring our audio recording gear as we wanted to go for a casual talk and not an classic interview which might would fear people.

The first person we approached was the owner of the small restaurant right next to the living area, so we asked him first about the situation in this area. Even hes is neither a refugee nor is he living in these area, he could give us a lot of information about this place and the organisation with the people who live there, as he is there everyday to maintain his restaurant. It was a good way to start our field research since he also let us film the interview and we collected a lot of information and after had an idea about this place and the people who live there. After eating lunch at his restaurant, he could introduce us to some people who work in one of the ateliers spaces right next to the refugee living area.

The refugee site, captured from the outside

Sense Making

Analyzing the gathered material from videos, interviews and observation should be done with one of these methods:

Sense making methods

Back into the field

In the evening, after our presentation of the progress so far and the input of sense making, we went back to the area to do more research. First stop was at a atelier right next to it, where a women does painting lessons once a week with the refugee kids that live there. We talked to her about her work, the area itself, her interaction with the people that live here and so on. This gave us another good impression from a different view then the restaurant owner, but still we didn't talked to the refugees themselves.

So we tried to do that and were able to talk to kids who could speak german surprisingly well so it was not a problem to communicate, as well as some guys in our age. It was more like a first attempt to get in contact with them and we could allready see that they were interested and open towards us. The kids talked about their wishes and their most liked activities and the guys enjoyed to play some soccer with us and some talks as well.

A good first day of field research and a lot of new impressions and information.


Sense making with the gathered information from field research.

Sense making

We decided to use the method of “keywords” to get an overview over all the information and opinions of different people we talked to so far. Each of us wrote down important sentences to one of the person or group we talked to during field research. We ended up with many “bubbles” to different topics from different people and started to sort them by person as well as topic.

Idea generation with diagrams

Gerhard Buurman joined our class as a guest lecturer and talked about diagrams, simplicity & complexity and how information is connected to each other.

Notes during class about the presentation from Gerhard.


Group presentation

For the group presentation after this first week, we presented the output of our sense making, a big poster with important keywords (= sentences we picked up during the interviews, talks) to each of the three groups we talked to. Blue is from the women wo works in the “basislager” atelier, green is from the owner of the restaurant and yellow is from the refugees themselves.

The final outcome of the sense making

This gave us a good overview of the situation from three different views. Of course the view of the refugees themselves is the most important for us since we aim to do a project together with them. We could figure out needs and wishes of individual persons as well as for the whole situation itself.

Additionally we draw a basic map of the whole area around the “Wohnsiedlung” with the localisation of the three parties. This should also help the class and our mentors to get a overview of this unique place.

Overview of the area around the “Wohnsiedlung”

Conclusion after week 1

The most important realisations after this first week is the five stages we went through. I tried to summ them up:

First the excitement, we felt very ambitious about doing a first project that involves field research with or about refugees. And very excited to see how they live, meet them and talk to them. After the first field research we could already see that its not so easy to get in touch with them but they seamed in general interested in us.

Second the doubts, we quickly realised that a high responsibility comes with this project and getting in touch with them. We were afraid of misusing them for our project and build a temporary relationship and field of trust with them. But whats after the six weeks of this project?

Third the rethinking, what if we work together with the refugees like a co-creation/ co-design method. We would not only involve them a lot and learn from them but also build their own ideas into something, together with them. And it will be very important to leave a tangible trace, something that sustains longer then the six week of our project. And last we had to be open and honest with communicating our temporary project and what we try to do.

Fourth the findings, we encountered a lot of wishes during talking to them and they are the ones who know their needs the best. Also they seamed open towards us and interested and specially the kids seamed to have a lot of spare time.

Fifth the first ideas, we asked ourselves how could we empower them to make a change in their situation of living. We tried to get ideas how to enrich their spare time, strengthen their community and bring them closer to locals and the city itself.

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