Phase 2 | Week 3 — Horizon Scanning & Expert Interviews

Documentation for IxD Studio II

In this stage, the class will work in teams to conduct their research according to the plan developed in stage 1. Each team will be expected to conduct immersive field research.

02/14: Mapping future trends

We kicked off today’s group meeting with sharing weekly rose, bud, and thorn:


  • Trust of each other in dividing work
  • Role-division; like the topic about our research
  • Time zone issue, appreciate trust & support from the team


  • Nervous about futuring stuff
  • Overwhelmed about many topics we can explore
  • Uncertainty about the form of final deliverables compared to what exists


  • It’s hard to feel on track because it’s a semester-long project.
  • Is it the time to narrow down?
  • Not sure how much research can entail meaningful insights

Mapping future trends

We planned to use a framework called STEEP described in How to Future Ch.4 for trend analysis and futuring. STEEP stands for Social, Technological, Economic, Environmental and Political. As a team, we worked asynchronously with each member coming up with about 6 future trends from horizon scanning. We used a shared Google sheets to document those trends.

During the meeting, we mapped out trends and drivers by time(now-10 years) and certainty(high-low). For the 10-year span, we identified three main drivers as the pandemic, Biden administration, and climate change. We were wondering if a trend can also be a driver. For example, as people move to silicon valley for tech jobs, can their migration affect how the community is being built? We then picked three trends as potential future drivers: 1. Economic recovery from pandemic; 2. Natural disasters; 3. Emerging technologies (collaborative AI, multimodal interfaces, extended reality, and secure distributed ledgers) will impact the future of work through human-machine partnerships.

Documenting research insights
Mapping out future trends and drivers

Next, we considered the gaps and how the trends and drivers we’ve already placed can help us generate more material to fill in the map:

  • Research economic and environmental trends influencing SCUSD
  • Consider influences from probable trends we have identified, how can they affect future-focused trends?

Near the end of today’s meeting, we came up with this week’s plan to move forward:

  • Prepare for research protocols
  • Continue doing secondary research
  • Begin reaching out to potential interviewees

2/15: Future reports & research protocol

In today’s session, Peter suggested several reports about future to look at, including work from Institute for the Future and Mckinsey’s Future of Work. More to come!

Key takeaways from Peter’s lecture:

  • We are not trying to predict future, but try to understand multiple possible futures; how would we align the work we do to different forces of change?
  • The challenge is how to create a believable future for 2030
  1. How might we interpret the trends and outcomes?

2. What do process and experience look like?

3. What trends, forces, and services lead to the outcomes?

  • Secondary resources for futures: international forums, databases, reports, expert interviews etc.
  • Vision plans for school districts give us end goals, we try to work backwards to design something mid-way(~2030) to accomplish the goal for 2035
  • Think about Futures Triangle, what are forces pushing to it, what are choices we have to make now, what are barriers we need to overcome?
  • How has Covid changed education? What are the type of educational experience we will deliver? What parts will stay online and what parts will be done face-to-face?
Futures Triangle from KnowledgeWorks

We presented to Peter our research progress, and we discussed the possible design principles:

  • Education is disconnected from jobs exist now
  • People are disconnected from the community
  • Equity in education

Our TA Stefania suggested us to keep doing web eavesdropping, and go deeper into SCUSD vision plan. She also shared the method of using spreadsheet for managing literature review and synthesizing research, which we found super helpful.

2/17: Start interviewing experts

During the last few days, we finished the first draft of research protocol for educators, and shared with Hajira and Sofia for feedback and comments. We grouped our research questions into six sections:

  • Demographic questions
  • General questions
  • On future-ready learning
  • On global citizens
  • Futuring questions
  • Region(Santa Clara) related questions
A snippet of our research questions

We have our first interview scheduled on Wednesday evening with MK’s friend, who is a public school teacher in SCUSD. During this week, we conducted another three semi-structured interviews with experts, including CMU professors Stacie Rohrbach and Raelynn O’Leary, and Frances who is a private school teacher in CA.

Each interview was a 1h Zoom video conferencing with at least two team members (one interviewer and one notetaker). We tweaked research protocol for each interviewee. At the beginning of each session, we asked for participant’s permission to record the session for our documentation purpose.

During today’s group meeting with Peter, he suggested it might be helpful to work with two personas: people born in Santa Clara VS people move into this area, so we could define future-ready learner and global citizen for two populations, then test ideas with two perspectives. He also encouraged us to get a clearer picture of schools and school district, exploring topics like demographics, how the schools affect families under the pandemic, and migration pattern of this region. Intergenerational dynamics was another interesting point Peter brought up. We could create 3-generation personas with consideration about family values.

In the following group discussion, MK shared the stories of her brother and sister regarding cultural identity of people from immigrant families. All of us felt it was an interesting topic to further explore, so we planned to invite MK’s relatives for interviews probably next week.

2/19: CollabU activity & plan for next meeting

We kicked off the late Friday afternoon meeting by watching this K-pop video together, selected by our team member Peter.

This week, we were assigned to finish CollabU Unit 2 and did Booth Game role play activity in our team. It was a 20-min fun activity with the goal to practice basic conflict communication skills we just learned, including conflict recognition, active listening, and assertion messages. Reflecting on this activity, we found structuring assertion messages would be the hardest part because it requires active listening and well-formed emotional response. BTW we all reached consensus on VR game about the booth’s game!

Since we have conducted four expert interviews this week, we plan to debrief all of interviews and begin synthesizing in next meeting. Karen shared her previous experience that we could first identify key buckets then map out key insights/takeaways into buckets.

We created a to-do list for next meeting. In addition to each member’s assignment, we all are going to read three-generation personas material Peter shared and break down interview information.

Interviews with educators

Next Steps

Our next steps would include conducting interviews with key decision-makers(school leadership), day-to-day users(students) and indirect users(parents, teachers), and more influencers(experts) at Santa Clara Unified School District, along with literature review. Findings from synthesizing interviews would help us inform our design implications or framework.



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