User-based approach to teaching and learning product design

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This paper reports on a senior-level multidisciplinary course titled Innovative Product Design at Florida Atlantic University aimed at teaching and learning one aspect of innovative thinking: Design of products or services from the user viewpoint, i.e., focusing on benefits and ease of use, rather than on product features. Specific objectives of the course are:To study well-known principles in design interaction, i.e., basic rules that allow design from the user point of view.To enhance innovative problem solving skills.To explore creative and innovative processes in product design.To practice methodologies for design of products and services.To engage student teams in the design of assistive technologies. This course introduces students from engineering, computer science and business majors to methodologies in design of products and services. Lectures, discussions, and problem solving exercises are used to explore the creative/innovative process in product design. Student teams design assistive technology products based on their knowledge and enhanced innovative skills. For a project to be approved, each team had to interview at least five potential users. The paper focuses mainly on engaging activities, some of which are new. It describes hands-on interactive class exercises, teaming activities, homework assignments, presentations, and projects, most of which relate to the user's point of view. The paper shares some available formal and informal preliminary feedback/evaluation of class topics, material and activities. In order to engage students in more real-life experiences, design experts and specialists in assistive technologies visited the class to teach and mentor students. Among the visitors were the chief product designer of Motorola, and the director of Stand Among Friends, a non-profit organization that helps people with disabilities. The paper shares students' feedback. They liked the fact that the course teaches design from a totally different perspective, i.e., the user - an unfamiliar aspect to most of them. For some, the concept of design with the user in mind was an "eye opening" experience. They enjoyed prototyping activities (and asked for more) and hands-on experiences that led to prototyping. Open environment and openness to new, simple and absurd ideas were highly appreciated. They have asked for smaller scale projects and for more class time to work on them.

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Raviv, D. (2015). User-based approach to teaching and learning product design. In Procedia CIRP (Vol. 36, pp. 171–176). Elsevier B.V.

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