I really appreciate that this course encourages students to think of design as more of a storytelling experience and looking at the perspectives of the users rather than the designer. I feel this is not something very highlighted in my experience with computer science classes at Smith. In the first class we observed different pictures to understand what it means to feel empathy toward users. This exercise helped me see how empathy cannot develop just from surface observations, but rather we have to ask questions about the user’s emotional need and imagine who they are, in order to craft a new story of their experience.
One aspect which was challenging for me is generating insights. I tend to approach problems with an analytical mindset, which made it hard to thinking into more abstract ways of framing the problem. In the first class it was very hard for me to think outside the box and what I thought were the obvious patterns and solutions. However, when I was working with my team through the brainstorming process I learned to look at the bigger picture. I think the fast pace of our design challenge was especially helpful because it forces us to narrow down the scope of our design. In addition, I was able to become less concerned about the technicalities and the final product and focus more how the user would interact our product and the needs it would fulfill.
I like that in my team it became very comfortable to throw in my inputs because we were very supportive of each other. In addition, the less formal structure of the class spurred us to make more creative and risky choices. There were a lot of learning by doing, which was an enriching core part of this class. I wish that the class lasts more than one week because I really wanted the opportunities to use more tools, such as the laser cutter and the 3D printer. In addition, I wonder how in the future Smith can incorporate design thinking not just in this in all the classes because from my discussion with my peers outside of class, some people think of design as technical or visual problem solving that’s only applicable in certain fields. However, I was able to take away from this class that design thinking is not only thinking visually, but also thinking empathically and being able to focus on the user ends of an experience. I think this is very helpful and applicable in many fields.