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Jennifer's email on the meeting 12/7

Date: Wed, 03 Dec 1997 15:35:16 -0500
To: (W. Michael McCracken)
From: Jennifer Turns
Subject: Re: Meeting tomorrow...
Mime-Version: 1.0

Mike (and anyone else who cares to respond):

I went to the Students Services building (the one with the flags, across from the student center) at 2:30 and was told that there is no conference room on the first floor. I looked in the ones on the second floor and didn't find you guys. I hope the meeting was useful. I am sorry that I missed it. What I want to know and wanted to bring up is this:

What is a learner centered design about?

1. Soloway and Design Problems: The type of LCD that Soloway talks about is a statement of the needs of users, but speaks none to process a designer goes through and how the user needs fit into the process OR to characteristics of design problems for which those user needs are relevant. If we did a protocol study of Soloway doing a design problem, where and how would the list of four learner needs present themselves? What process does Soloway follow when he designs?
2. Engineering Design and Design Process: When we teach students about engineering design (in traditional classes, not the freshman design class), it is mostly about design process. Most of the textbooks describe design process and embed design specific knowledge in the process. The specific knowledge required for the problem is often presumed to have been learned elsewhere. In fact, when we teach about "User centered design" in ISyE 3010, it is about a process and methods (iterative, observe users, determine functionality, build prototype, etc.). We also teach students about user characteristics but these are not described as being part of user centered design but as simply background knowledge. It is not to say that this IS User Centered Design but simply to say that this is my take on it.

To be more specific, Nigel Cross has a text available on "Engineering Design Methods". In the first chapter, he has three sections devoted to
1) design activities (what gets done, process, Atman and Gero protocol studies fit here as does Farrokh's DSPT process)
2) design problems (characteristic of the problem that make it a design problem, the Goel work describing characteristics of design problems that make them different from problem solving problems as well as the Soloway work describing the unique characteristics of learners seem to fit here), and
3) design abilities (what the designers knows and can do that facilitate design, the ability to model with SBF, the work by Adelson on the role of domain expertise in software design).

Did the LCD discussion at the meeting focus on one category or cut across multiple of these categories. I think that the LCD stuff soloway describes fits into category 2.

So again, what is a Learner Centered Design about? A LCD can be about many different things so there is no right answer. It cannot hurt, though, to be explicit about the facet of design being described.


At 09:39 AM 12/3/97 -0500, you wrote:
>The meeting is in the student services conference room and is from 2-3