BA in Digital Society
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
|Intended learning outcomes (more on programme level)
This course builds on subjects, concepts, and approaches that you have studied in several previous BA Digital Society courses.
In ‘Digital Cultures’ you have learned how different groups make different sense of digital technologies. Maker cultures do not only make sense of digital technologies but actively engage and create or deconstruct technologies.
In ‘Making Knowledge and Manufacturing Doubt’ you were introduced to different forms of knowledge production as well as the ethics and challenges of displaying, analysing, and interpreting it. In this course, you will explore the concept of making from both a theoretical and practical point of view by becoming makers of knowledge yourselves and developing competences that will help you reflect on both processes of making and products.
This course will train skills in project work and design thinking. The course will start with a Zip-Crit, a critical analysis of a Kickstarter project and discuss what the promises being made are, what the deliverables are/will be etc. This Zip-Crit prepares for the 3 projects you will work on together with your group.
As presentation skills have already been trained in year 1, this course builds on your existing skills. However, it will also add a new element of presenting and writing in the form of a report addressed to a public institution.
Lastly, you will also train critical reflections on theoretical concepts related to maker culture and discuss them in oral and written form. Thereby we will be building upon analytical skills and academic writing skills introduced in year 1.
|Learning objectives (course specific)
In successfully completing this course you will be able to:
|Objective statement (course description)
Maker Culture has its roots in traditional arts and crafts, in tinkering, in building, in using one’s hands as a way to think, to express, and to design. It emphasizes making and doing as a means to promote problem- and project-based inquiry, problem solving, and hands-on, collaborative learning.
Maker Cultures within a digital paradigm take several guises, such as hacking (and hacktivism), DIY, modding, re-use, and open source, also involving the design of new software and systems. Mock-ups and prototypes, storyboards, 2D and 3D modelling, fabrication, as well as physical and virtual labs, are all used as different modes of interaction to exploit technology in the service of cultural production.
By taking this course you will learn how making in different forms, from physical (un)making to gaming, can enhance your thinking, help you formulate arguments, and answer research questions. You will also be able to problematise and analyse the ethics of technological designs. By taking a project-based approach, this course will provide you with skills and competencies that will enable you to work in teams, follow robust approaches to carry out projects from start to finish, and reflect on the products of your work.
This course takes a critical making perspective to connect thinking and making, two modalities of engaging with the world that are typically considered separately, creating an artificial distinction between conceptual and material exploration. Using a project-based approach in which you will be actively involved in the process of making, this course will delve into theoretical and methodological aspects of maker culture, emphasizing the shared act of making as a process of critical inquiry, decision-making, and reflection.
|Type of course :
|Target group :
Problem-based learning & Project-based learning
Task 1: Registering for and Downloading/Installing Minecraft
Task 2: Getting Familiar with Minecraft
Spend some time to familiarise yourselves with the game by exploring the environment, obtaining resources, and crafting tools and objects. Once you are more comfortable with the game, you should create your first object. In the course Making Knowledge you visited the Natural History Museum Try to recreate in Minecraft an object, display case, or a space that struck you. Images you have taken during your visit or from the museum website should help you in your design.
Task 3: Read a short excerpt from an article on Minecraft
As part of the anticipation week activities, you are also expected to read the section on “Creative Play in Minecraft” from the paper below (no page numbers in the e-book version). We will discuss the full article together in Week 6 in class. The ebook is available via the library.
Cayatte, R. (2014). Where game, play and art collide. In: Garrelts, N. (ed), Understanding Minecraft. Essays on Play, Community and Possibilities. McFarland.
Lecture: Introduction to the Course
In this lecture, you will be introduced to the set-up and aims of this course, including the learning goals, main thematic areas to be covered, the collaborative projects, and assessments. You will also be briefly introduced to the principles of project-based learning and the ethos of maker culture.
A ‘zip crit’ is a rapid critique of an object, design or interface that prepares you to critically reflect on and analyse the value of designing and making. For this session we will analyse MOFT Z: The 4-in-1 invisible sit-stand laptop desk. The device has been funded via a Kickstarter campaign.
In preparation for the class you should look at the product as presented on its Kickstarter campaign page
and critically reflect on the following:
Part 1: Maker Culture: Definitions, Values and Critique
The municipality of Amsterdam supports makerspaces in the city’s public libraries. The idea behind this is to support specifically children in preparation for a future job market by teaching the use of laser cutters and 3D printers. Minka Stoyanova (in Bogers & Chiappine 2019, p. 10) is critical about simply showing kids how to use a specific technology. Instead, she strongly advocates for “teaching critical approaches to technology, teaching media literacy, critical thinking, and environmental thinking”. Making is seen both by the municipality of Amsterdam and by Stoyanova as related clearly to learning and education. Is this also how you understand making? There are many hobbies where making is at their core. Bogers & Chiappini (2019) ask “What was making? What is making? And perhaps most critically, what could making become?” (p. 8). What do you think? Which examples come to mind?
The concept of making is now applied to many different fields and activities such as handicraft, experimental art, electronic music, design work, hacking, 3D printing and to practices in the field of citizen science. From a technical background making could mean to make a connection between something that only exists as an idea to create it, give it some material form.
Makers see the value in their practices in learning through making.
They seem to frame making as a hobby unrelated to the creative industry or without any further purpose. Is this the case? Are people aspiring to be makers instead of makers of things?
The following questions can be answered by looking at the readings/sources below:
Part 2: Deconstruction Project
Steve Jobs believed in a closed system for Apple products. Apps need to follow strict rules to be approved, hardware cannot be easily replaced by unauthorised individuals, and most of their products are not compatible with devices and programmes coming from other manufacturers. Similarly, many technology companies are increasingly creating proprietary formats and patent their hardware and software, thus making it almost impossible for end-users to open, repair, and control the tools they use every day.
The ‘Maker’s Bill of Rights’, published in the Make Magazine (Jalopy, 2006) was prefaced with the tagine ‘If you can’t open it, you don’t own it’. The manifesto consists of seventeen commandments for manufacturers to make their hardware more accessible, extensive, and repairable. Taking this motto as the premise, the first project in the course invites you to unmake, disassemble, and deconstruct technology devices to question manufacturing processes, ownership, provenance, and ethics of devices that we use in our everyday lives.
Each team is free to select a technology related object to deconstruct. Deconstructions can be theoretical, i.e. you don’t have to open or break a device but you have to do research about its elements, or if you feel comfortable enough, you can physically open a device and deconstruct its components. You may find old technological devices in second hand shops in Maastricht or in your place of residence, or even at your parents’ basements and storage spaces. You may be amazed by how much old technology is still lying around without even noticing it.
During this session you will be introduced to the project and you will start working in your groups. Each group is expected to bring to class one or two objects (physical objects or images of the objects) that they would like to work on for this project.
Deconstructions entail research for the following:
Please note that information about the devices should not be presented by using only text but also tables, graphs, infographics and other forms of presentation that make the information easy to digest. You can find an example here: iEarth: Deconstructing the iPhone
Part 1: Critical Making and the (Digital) Humanities
Following from the session on Maker Cultures, this tutorial will problematise the notion of critical making, exploring its genealogy, its role in pedagogical practice, and its value in humanistic inquiry.
Part 2: Work on Deconstruction Project
In the second part of this session your team will continue working together on the Deconstruction Project. You are expected to have started ‘deconstructing’ the chosen devices and be ready to share your preliminary research with the rest of the group. This should include an overview of the device and some aspects of the design and raw materials. Any ethical and moral challenges identified should also be addressed. This is an opportunity to receive peer and tutor feedback in preparation for the lightning presentations in the following session.
Presentations of Deconstruction Project
In the second part of the session, students will present their group projects. Presentations are assessed, and therefore all group members are expected to attend and present their research on their chosen device. Presentations (PPT, Prezi or other) should be up to 15 minutes long and include the following:
1) 1 slide that presents an overview of the device. This should include its general characteristics, as well as the company, people and organisations involved in its making.
3) 1 slide that presents the raw materials used in the device, including where they are sourced from as well as their purpose. This should be in the form of an infographic.
6) 1 slide that presents the ethical or moral challenges related to the design and/or (un)making of the device.
You are encouraged to use images, gifs, videos, tables, graphs, infographics and other forms of presentation that make the information easy to digest.
Lecture: An Introduction to Design Thinking
The second part of the course is devoted to design thinking. Design Thinking is an approach widely used in business and industry since it provides a user-centred approach to problem solving. It is not only a method but also a process and a way of ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking. This lecture will provide a historical introduction to the concept, an overview of the different design thinking models, as well as of the stages of the design thinking process.
Part 1: Design Thinking
Design thinking is many things to many disciplines; it can be defined as method, a process, and a way of thinking putting humans/users at the centre of the design process.
Design Thinking can be used to design almost anything, from software to buildings, to museum exhibitions. It embraces an iterative rather than a linear approach to design involving quick prototyping and testing and does not shy away from missteps or failures. Essentially, a design thinking approach encourages creative and practical problem solving, making sure that the problem being solved is appropriate for the community of users for which it is being designed.
For this tutorial you will explore the history of design thinking, its core principles and the various design thinking models, and will reflect on its power in developing human-centred approaches to design. In preparation for this tutorial you should:
1) Select a technology-based design failure from the list below and explain how the principles and practices of design thinking could have helped in solving design and user experience issues.
2. Read the literature and address the following learning goals:
Part 2: Design Thinking Project
In the second part of the session you will be introduced to the Design Thinking project that you will collaboratively work on and you will start working in your teams to develop a solution based on the scenario below:
Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. In the 1970s the overshoot day was in November, in the mid-1980s in October, while in the early 2000s in September. In 2019, the overshoot day was on the 29th July, which is the earliest date recorded since this project began. Individual countries also have their own overshoot dates. These are the dates on which Earth Overshoot Day would fall if all of humanity consumed like the people in this country. These dates are calculated by the Global Footprint Network, which takes into account the Biocapacity per person (productive area that exists per resident/ measured in gha – Global Hectares) and the Ecological Footprint per person (the biologically productive areas required to provide everything consumed by a person). Based on this, the Earth Overshoot Day for the Netherlands in 2020 was on the 3rd of May.
There are many initiatives around the world that aim at moving the date later in the year. These may be individual actions, such as changing your diet and travelling eco-sensibly, or they may be community, city or country-wide initiatives, including energy-efficient buildings, food waste reduction and reuse, reforestation, sustainable fishing etc.
Your team has been hired as a consultant by the municipality (gemeente) of Maastricht to come up with a technology-based solution to #movethedate. This may have to do with any of the priority areas below and can take any form; from a website to a campaign to raise awareness to a specific product that solves a particular challenge.
During this session you will:
1) Brainstorm: Work with your team members to decide which of the five priority areas you are developing a solution for: cities, energy, food, planet, population. Solutions should have an explicit digital component in their realisation and/or delivery.
2) Create Personas: A persona is a fictional representation of a user that encapsulates common characteristics and needs of different people. These can inform your design, since the solution you will be producing will be addressing specific needs. Your team should come up with 3-4 personas that represent the characteristics of particular user groups. You will be shown how to create the personas during the session, but you are expected to do some research to come up with these for your projects. Therefore, you will need to complete this task after the class. This may be done by e.g. looking at existing similar solutions/ products, looking at previous research, asking questions about the users, finding users and asking them what they like/ don’t like about particular products or solutions.
Part 1: Present Your Priority Areas and Personas
In the first part of the session, each group should use a presentation software (PPT, Prezi etc.) to present the priority area they are designing a solution for and their personas. Presentations should not be longer than six minutes and should respond to the following:
2) What problem(s) are you trying to tackle?
3) What are the typical users you are designing for?
4) What are their typical characteristics/behaviours?
5) What methodology did you follow to come up with the characteristics of each persona?
Part 2: Design Sprint
In the second part of the session, you will be introduced to ‘Design Sprints’. By using many of the tenants of design thinking (brainstorming, prototyping, testing, etc.), we will use a step-by-step approach to produce a technology-enabled solution for your client, the municipality of Maastricht. The aim is to start thinking through and generating ideas for your solution during this session and continue in the following session (Week 5/Session 7). The session will include guided activities for problem definition, idea generation, idea selection, and concept development.
Work on the Design Thinking Project
This session will start with a quick recap of last session’s progress. Each team is expected to informally present in a maximum of two minutes their problem definition and preliminary ideas. Teams will continue working on their digitally enabled solution for the municipality of Maastricht using a series of guided activities. By the end of this session, teams are expected to have formulated a solution that will be finalised for the following session during which groups will have to pitch their projects. Stationary, including post-it notes, markers, pencils, scissors, etc., will be provided. However, you should bring to class any other material you may need to further develop your solutions.
Pitching Your Solution
Now that you have worked on your idea you will need to sell it to your client. To do this, you need to prepare a pitch. A pitch is a presentation that quickly conveys a problem and possible solutions. You should work on your pitch in advance, but you will also have 30 minutes during the class to finalise it. You need to make sure that your pitch is clear and unambiguous. You don’t need much detail, but you need to demonstrate that you have sufficiently planned your solution. Some advice on the execution and content of your pitch is included below:
Part 1: Game, Art, Design
Work together in smaller groups of 3-4 students and think about the different elements that are needed to describe the following examples. Do you agree that all these are games and are outside of ordinary life? Can these examples better be described as toy, game or art? During class each group will be assigned one of the following examples:
Part 2: Minecraft
In the second part of the meeting, you will start working with Minecraft and brainstorming about your project on which you will collaboratively work for the rest of the course.
During the anticipation week you had the opportunity to familiarise yourselves with Minecraft and develop your first object. In this session we will explore game design aspects of Minecraft and will reflect upon its potential for participatory design.
Minecraft Project: Rethinking Public Spaces in the City of Maastricht
Given that decisions about urban planning are often made by a select few without giving the opportunity to those who will be impacted by these to express their views, this project aims at contributing to the discussion about participatory urban design through technology and providing the City of Maastricht with novel ways of looking at citizen feedback and involving the public in decision making. For this project, each team will have to:
Select a public space in Maastricht (anything from a park and a square to a riverside area or a street) and redesign it in Minecraft. Alternatively think about an art object to design for a public space in the city.
To help you start thinking about public spaces in Maastricht, you should reflect on the following:
Working on the Minecraft Project I
During this session you will have the opportunity to continue working on your Minecraft project. The session will start with each team presenting their public space and its preliminary (conceptual) re-design. Teams should prepare in advance responses to the following questions:
Part 1: Modding and Hacking
Making, modding and hacking communities are examples to investigate user practices, ask about their political agendas and research how knowledge is built and shared. Those communities are strongly technology-mediated, and sharing is the basic principle of their foundation. Ethical and social norms of sharing and an extensive culture of open access to archives enable these communities to collaborate and experience collective reflection. Activities and practices (creating code, making tutorials and modifying codes and objects) connect their members.
Before you read the texts, write down in a few sentences what your personal association is when you think about hacking. Do you remember any specific example about a hack that was discussed in the media? What was your reaction? Then read the texts and answer the following learning goals:
At the beginning of the meeting report back what your associations were before you engaged with the literature. Has your point of view changed?
Part II: Working on Minecraft Project II
During this session you will have the opportunity to continue working on your Minecraft project. The session will start with each team presenting their public space and their draft designs. Teams will be given time to work together on the presentations which are due in the following tutorial session. If the teams have already worked on the presentation, they can also spend the time to think about and start preparing the report, which is the assessed part of this course.
Part 1: Minecraft Presentations
In this session you will present your Minecraft projects.
Presentations should be up to 15 minutes long and all group members should contribute. In your presentation you are expected to cover the following:
Part 2: Course Evaluation
In the second part of the session, students will have a discussion with their tutors about the course, discussing the things they liked as well as those that they would like to see improved. If time allows, tutors will initiate the discussion with a Plus/Delta activity.
|Assessment of learning:
The course has three assessments, and you need to pass all three assessments to pass the course. For two of the assessments, you will get a group grade and for the third one, an individual grade.
i) Group Presentation: Deconstructions Project (30%)
You will work in small groups (3-4 each) to prepare and deliver a presentation (.ppt, prezi etc.) about your collaborative deconstructions project. A template for the presentation will be provided and you will be evaluated according to a rubric posted on the student portal. All students in the group will receive the same mark. You should submit a cover page and the presentation file/link to the system.
ii) Group Report for Minecraft project (30%)
The report should include the following elements (you should include as many pages and visuals as you think are sufficient to communicate the message):
a) a title of your project (e.g., Sphinx Quarter Redesign, Report)
3) Introduction that will address the following:
a) Which public space have you chosen for the Minecraft project?
c) Your chosen public space in the context of Maastricht/Limburg (e.g., is it unique? is it functional based on the needs of the local community? Are there similar spaces in the city/region and how do they function or do not)?
4) The Problem
a) Why does this space need to be redesigned?
a) Who is currently using this space?
b) Is it particularly problematic for a specific demographic?
c) Is it redesigned for the same demographic or for a different one (Who will benefit)?
d) How is the redesign going to improve their lives?
a) What methodology did you follow to think through this space (e.g. asking people,
observing citizens, design thinking etc.)?
7) The Redesign
a) What needs to change and/or be improved?
8) Concluding Summary
iii) Blog Post (40%)
Post an entry of c. 2000 words (+/- 10%) on your blog in relation to the design thinking project (Earth Overshoot Day/ Weeks 4 & 5) you will carry out. For the blog post you should reflect on both the process and the results of this project, taking one of the following perspectives ‘Design thinking as a form of knowledge production’; ‘Failure in the process of design’; ‘The value of human-centred design’.
Your design thinking project should act as a case study to support your arguments about one of the above perspectives. In other words, you should also make sure to theorise about design thinking as a process of design and collaborative creation, and reflect on one of the above perspectives using relevant literature. Your Design Thinking project can then act as a solid case to explain e.g. failure, knowledge production, or human-centred design. You should also make sure to explain what is the social/academic relevance of both design thinking as an approach (e.g. highlighting one of its core aspects – human-centredness) as well as of your particular design thinking project.
Readings to support this assessment can be found in the relevant sessions. However, you are expected to inform your arguments by going beyond the literature included in the coursebook/Canvas and by drawing on your project experience.
Hints and Tips
1. As you will use your design thinking project as a case study to your blog post, you should include non- text-based elements (e.g. images, graphs, videos, gifs) to support your writing. Try to make use of the affordances of the blog as an online multimodal space, as much as possible.
2. Try to find a good balance between describing, reflecting, and engaging (with course readings and your design thinking project).
3. You should treat the blog post as any other form of academic writing. This means that it should have proper APA in-text citations, a list of references, a central claim/line of argumentation, proper use of language etc. You can also include/embed video/audio developed by others, if it is suitable, but this should also be treated as any other piece of literature.
4. Do not write a blog post that is merely a descriptive account of your project. Your project is the case study and the means to theorise about design thinking and write about one of the three perspectives mentioned above.
|Effect (witness account, evaluation of the course)|
|Additional biblio sources