Tag Archive | group work

Isolated Heroes

Yesterday morning saw the culmination of a few weeks’ work in my Design in the Market module – a group presentation on a designer of our choice. As a group, consisting of myself, Jennifer, Lesley, and Rebecca, we eventually decided on Samantha McEwen, the girl behind fashion label Isolated Heroes. Part of our research for this presentation was to contact and interview our designer, and Sam invited us to do so at her studio space in Wasps Studios in Meadow Mills, Dundee. Sam was really welcoming and friendly throughout our interview, and we were left with pages of notes and lots to think about in putting together our presentation. For other classes most of us have had to create PowerPoint presentations before, so we decided this time to use Prezi for a bit of a change; luckily for presentation-phobic me, Jennifer and Rebecca put together a really solid presentation that flowed really well, and after a bit of rearranging and rewriting we were ready to present.

I’ve never been the most confident with regards to speaking to people, especially to groups of people in an actual lecture theatre, especially when my grades are reliant on it. Despite all this, I think our presentation went really well and I’m really happy about it.


From speaking to Sam and listening to other groups’ presentations, it’s obvious that all these successful designers and businesses began with a very solid idea, a passion for something very specific, and a real drive to do exactly what they wanted to do. This is reinforcing my thoughts from my previous post: that I have to work hard on developing my brand and finding my passion. Wish me luck!


Assignment 2: What Images Mean

Polysemy is the idea that things (words, phrases, images, signs) have many meanings. In The Rhetoric of the Image, Roland Barthes details three different types of meanings that can be garnered from images. The first type of message you can get from an image is the linguistic message – the caption or slogan in an advertisement, and the labels of the product advertised. The second type of message is the symbolic one (or the coded iconic image) – a tin of soup, for example, will invariably have lovely bright pictures of whole vegetables on the label, symbolising how ‘fresh’ and healthy it is. The third type of message is the non-symbolic one (or the non-coded iconic image) – the obvious message: you’re selling a tin of soup.

“All images are polysemous; they imply, underlying their signifiers, a ‘floating chain’ of signifieds, the reader able to choose some and ignore others.”

Here Barthes is saying that as soon as you see one meaning in an image, you ‘unlock’ many others – an image of a crying person might signify sadness, loss, physical pain, happiness. If you choose one (happiness) you close off the other possibilities but unlock new ones – happiness due to good news, finding something that was lost, ‘happy tears’ at a wedding, etc. Different people often see different meanings, due to differing backgrounds, life experiences, and cultures; adding text to the image fixes the meaning, anchoring the image within the context you choose for it.

The workshop we participated in last week introduced us to this concept, and this week we have performed a little experiment in order to help us understand this whole polysemy thing better. The experiment entailed us picking three random images (or rather, the randomiser at sxc.hu picking for us) and asking members of the public what information they got from the image, what (if anything) the images made them feel, and if they could think of a story that linked the images together. Our results were quite varied – all together we asked 9 people, and heard a number of different stories.

We chose one of the stories we’d gathered to work with further: the three images are part of an ad campaign to promote ecotourism and volunteering. Our next task was to add a fourth image to the set, to see if that would help people see our chosen story more clearly. We found this somewhat effective – the image of people digging, along with that of the women washing clothes in a stream, definitely gave people more of an idea of travelling, working hard, and helping or being charitable. However, there was still some variation in the stories we heard.

We then went back to our original three images, but added the word ‘volunteer’ into the mix. This very quickly led people to understand our story, and most of our participants got it straight away. One female participant said, “Well, this image says ‘volunteer’, so obviously she’s volunteering.” Which, I suppose, is exactly what you want to happen. You wouldn’t be very happy if you were trying to get people to volunteer in Peru but actually your advert inspired everyone to go and book a nice holiday in the south of France. From this result we can definitely see that text fixes a meaning to the images.

I find it really interesting how these randomly chosen images now have a sequence and a story behind them. Now all I can see when I look at them is this imaginary advert!

So what does all this tell us? As a designer, I think it all boils down to the context into which you place your designs. In textiles you have to take into consideration fabric choice, colour, print, stitch structure, construction, and most of all where your design will be seen. Fashion or interiors? If fashion, will your models be in a bright white studio (which might signify “artiness”, high fashion, unaffordable), or a more gritty “street” scene (which might signify wearable, real-life, accessible)? If interiors, what sort of lifestyle do you want to depict? Where do you want your designs to fit in?

Doing this experiment and thinking about Barthes’s explanation in terms more closely related to what I do day-to-day (we’re always being told to think of our designs “in context”) has definitely helped me to understand the concept of polysemy, and the experiment itself certainly made Barthes’s points clearer in my mind, as The Rhetoric of the Image isn’t the easiest read.

Advertising is serious business.

Advertising is serious business. You can’t just show a picture of your product, you have to sell the scene, the lifestyle. Use this deodorant and women will find you irresistible, use this perfume and men will think you’re sexy, feed your kids this juice and they’ll be healthy and happy. Product advertisement is often stuff you can tune out – it’s just the nonsense that pops up in between segments of Criminal Minds. Advertising for causes is a different story though, and is often quite provocative and challenging; check out this collection (from 2010) of extreme ads, notably those from Amnesty International, the RSPCA, RSF, and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. The workshop I took part in this week has worked to make me aware of a lot of advertising tricks – show a happy family to sell your soft drink (healthy, fun), show “the great outdoors” to sell your washing powder (fresh, clean, bright), et cetera.

During the workshop my team was given this image, and asked what we thought about it – what was the feel of the image, what does it portray, what’s the main theme of the image and what props does it use, what might it be advertising? (Okay, we weren’t asked the advertising question, but all of the images used in the workshop were advertisements (with any text and brand logos removed), some more obvious than others.)

What do you think? My quickly-scribbled notes for this image look like this (but in barely-legible handscribbles): sexy knitwear, Armani-ish?, intimate, loving, black & white – romantic, distinguished, elicit, clandestine (we thought these two might be having an extra-marital affair!), mysterious, black/white clothes, opposites attract, and sophisticated. One good key word for this image shouted out by another team was “luxury”.

It’s actually an advertisement for a mink coat. I don’t know how long it would have taken me to guess that, but it probably would have been a while. We were thinking something along the lines of perfumes and chocolates!

We were given the task of hitting the streets and asking Real People (not art/design students) for their thoughts on the picture. It was a bit of a scary thought, approaching people on the street, but I think Kristen, Stephanie, Sheila, and I took it in our strides. Luckily for the rest of us, Sheila had the confidence to do most of the actual people-approaching.

First we asked a porter in the Dundee University Dalhousie building (where the workshop had taken place – start with an easy one!), a 62 year old male, who straight away spotted that it was an ad for a fur coat, which led me to believe he’d done this before! He said that the ad was obviously about the lady, and the man seemed a bit pointless, really. The ad trying to sell “the finer things in life”, and “a man loves a lady who wears a fur coat.” Next we spoke to three male students in their late teens, who noted the feeling of closeness and intimacy in the picture, and they thought it might be advertising perfume or jewellery (the lady’s bracelets in the forefront). They didn’t seem especially surprised when we revealed the purpose of the ad, as they had expected it to be something somewhat luxurious or “high-end”, although I suppose we aren’t really exposed to advertising for furs nowadays. Lastly we spoke to a female student who I thought to be about 20. She thought the image was possibly for a fashion campaign, and noted that it was trying to show love and a caring attitude, like the man really cared for the lady and is “a really nice guy”. She also thought it seemed quite posed, or fake. When we revealed that it was a fur coat ad, she was quite happy to have guessed at fashion campaign.

This was quite a fun exercise in the end, and I wonder what other opinions we’d have gathered if we could have found more people willing to stand in the cold with us for a minute or two. I would have especially liked to hear more female opinions, to get a more balanced view. It seems that in general people are actually quite good at deciphering scenes and images, when we take a few seconds to analyse them. I guess that also means that advertisers have to be quite clever!

Having thought about it a bit, I think people probably would be more likely to buy washing powder with an image depicting freshness, outdoorsiness (totes a word), and “summer breezes”, rather than a picture of some clean clothes, which is quite funny really, since that’s what you’re going to get out of using washing powder. I’m looking forward to learning more about “what images mean” and doing this kind of exercise again to a higher degree in preparation for our next assignment.

Assignment 1: Are You What You Wear?

The first workshop of my new module (21st Century Designer) was an exercise in snooping. We’d previously been asked to collect photographs from our childhoods or our homes, which we were to swap with classmates and analyse. I enjoyed this task; I like to think I’m quite good at figuring people out, but I’ve never had to try to do so without actually being face-to-face with the person! We were asked to think about what this person might be like, what their upbringing might have been like, what subject they are studying, what sort of personality they might have – in other words, we weren’t to just note down what we see (fictional example: clothes everywhere) but why it’s there (clothes everywhere might mean an interest in trends and fast, inexpensive fashion, someone who enjoys shopping either socially or as an individual exercise, who feels their clothing/look is very important in terms of self-expression, someone who is untidy or disorganised, or any number of other things).

My team (team 8) only had two sets of photos to examine, so we were able to give a fair amount of time to each. Here are my notes for each of them:



As you can see, we noted down various basic things that we could see in the pictures, like “photos”, “music”, “birthday party”. We then tried to figure out what these things meant in relation to someone’s whole personality. We thought our first student (who provided pictures of their student halls bedroom) was female, a textile design student, quite mainstream and into fashion and trends, who enjoys socialising and travelling. She seemed to have a particular interest in Americana, with Coca-Cola, Miller, American Apparel, and Ray-Ban ads in a sort of photo collage on one wall. We spotted photographs from a music festival, so we thought she would be quite into music and taking part in new experiences, and socialising in large groups. We also thought she would be quite extroverted, from her bold choice of red bedding and a cushion that was mainly red, the photographs of her with groups of friends, and an image in the aforementioned photo collage was of someone leaping off a cliff. We also thought she would be quite organised, because next to a desk we could see a number of Post-It notes, reminders, a restaurant menu, and a taxi company phone number. Along with being extroverted, we thought she would be quite straightforward in approaching things, because part of her photo collage was an ad that stated “as simple as that” and we thought it might serve as a sort of motivational poster. Straightforward though she might be, we also thought she’d be a very caring person and a bit of an animal lover, as evidenced by all the photos she keeps around her, a decorative cushion with a dog on it, and the fact that she provided a photo of a lamb in her kitchen or utility room (which also led us to believe she lived on or near a farm back home).

Our second student provided childhood photos, which we found more difficult to work with. I’m not great at gauging ages, but I think the photos were taken between the ages of about six and ten, and they mostly seemed to be from at-home birthday parties. We took from these pictures that the student was female, quite feminine, and a textile design student. The at-home birthday parties led us to believe she came from a very caring, quite affluent background – the house appeared to be quite big, with a room large enough to accommodate a lot of excited children and their parents, and some party games. We could also see quite a nice garden and some patio furniture, which reinforced our assumption. We thought she’d be quite sociable, as there were both boys and girls in the party photos, but of course at that age the children could have just been family (which would reinforce our ideas about the family being very caring) or it might have simply been that her whole school class was invited to the party. A photo of her and another girl (who we thought to be her sister) at a park feeding ducks, along with the party photos gave the impression of her having had quite an idyllic upbringing. In none of the pictures was our student in the forefront, seeking attention; in fact, in one photo she was facing away and holding onto her mother, apparently hiding from or at least avoiding the camera, so we thought she would be quite a reserved character.

We later met up with the team whose photos we’d examined, and swapped analyses with them. It was quite interesting to see how people reacted to our guesses, and I think we were all excited to find if we were correct. It turns out that we were all (mostly) rather good at this snooping lark.

Team 7 seemed quite happy with our guesses, although our assumption that our second student was reserved was wrong – she told us that as a child she was often very much the centre of attention and would perform for any audience, so I suppose candid snapshots aren’t always the most revealing about someone’s personality.

There was a bit of nervous laughter, and everyone seemed really keen to hear what was to be said about them, sometimes perhaps a little guarded. I felt a bit apprehensive, but that’s just my default reaction to new things! I mean, really, what’s the worst thing that could be guessed from my photos?

I provided photos from my living room, and was quite excited to hear team 7’s guesses about me. They were pretty spot on, actually. Female, 23+, textile design student, flat shared with a boyfriend, keep a lot of “stuff” – cutesy trinkets, small toys, etc., very into learning – they thought learning and education would have probably been very important at home and something that I’ve carried on, would probably rather stay in and watch a film than go out clubbing – this is very true, evidenced by our massive DVD collection (which probably also proves that I like to “keep stuff” and “have things”), and I’m usually happy to say that I’m a stay-er-in-er but coming from someone else it sounds quite boring.

The way I felt about inspecting someone else’s life and having my own life inspected differed quite a bit, which surprised me. I didn’t feel bad or awkward looking at the pictures, because I didn’t imagine that anyone would show pictures that they didn’t want anyone to see. However, when I was trying to choose my own pictures to show, I found it quite difficult – I examined every shot and hemmed and hawed over what people might think of them. Of course it didn’t really matter in the end – everyone showed pictures (I assume) they were happy to show, and I didn’t really mind that I hadn’t dusted, that my shelves are cluttered with things, that there’s bits of unfinished knitting floating around, and the occasional empty envelope that hasn’t quite made its way to the bin. I suppose that’s the whole point of the exercise, really – this is how I we are, whether we like it or not!

In terms of ethics, there are lots of considerations to make in regards to snooping. We had it quite easy, as everyone had the choice of what pictures to show, or even not to provide pictures of their own. I suppose at the very least, in cases like ours, people have to know about and agree to you looking into their lives.

As part of this assignment we’ve been asked to research the Johari window, something I’d never heard of before. It’s a technique often used in a self-help capacity to help people increase their personal awareness, by placing adjectives chosen by both the subject and his or her peers in place on a grid. It is definitely going to take a bit more in-depth reading to fully understand. I found an interactive Johari window floating around the depths of the internet, which might be quite an interesting thing to explore.

Assignment 5: Proposal

­­­­­­­­­­Our RSA brief asked us to identify a daily journey, either our own or other people’s, and investigate ways to improve it and make the experience better for many people. We were to think of the economic, social, or environmental issues people face during their journeys, and we were encouraged to address these issues. Although the brief was quite specific in that we were only to research daily journeys, it still allowed for a broad range of ideas – travel to college, university, work, and shops and services, by foot, bicycle, bus, train, and car. It also allowed a very wide range of ideas to be developed, as the solutions could be used to improve any area of the journey – the brief would accommodate redesigned vehicles or environments, activities or accessories to better use commuting time spent on public transport, and even advertising or communication campaigns to inform people about different types of travel.

Team 8, consisting of myself, Kristen Neillie, Kirstie Snowdon, Esther Farrell, and Steven Lee, began by brainstorming different daily journeys, focusing on modes of transport like walking, driving, and using public transport. We then brainstormed to find as many issues with these modes of transport as we could, and we found many. The main problem areas we found were issues with public transport, problems created by other people, environmental factors like adverse weather conditions, and problems with self-preparation.


Brainstorming journeys and why they're stressful.

Eventually we decided focus on the daily journey to work or university by car, and through brainstorming we chose to highlight and try to solve problems and issues associated with road rage.

We thought that road rage was an area not really acknowledged or brought into the public eye enough as a day-to-day problem. Although a lot of people look at road rage as being a minor problem, it can cause people to act very aggressively, drive dangerously, and it can sometimes be the cause of accidents. We thought this was an area that deserved investigation, and needed solutions.

Road rage occurs most in busy towns and cities or when a person’s stress levels are high, which fits in to the brief of investigating daily journeys and commutes. Statistics show that traffic jams, pot holes, and even weather conditions can cause us to become stressed and behave in ways which you wouldn’t do normally. In the US approximately 2,500 accidents a year are the direct cause of angry or aggressive drivers; studies have shown that as many as 50% of all road accidents could be attributed to road rage. This goes to show that road rage is a bigger problem than we might initially think, and that there is a need for more extensive research into the problem.

As a team we brainstormed again to come up with ideas for solutions to aid in dealing with road rage, and produced lots of ideas.

More brainstorming.


Moving away from our more abstract ideas (flying cars and Futurama-style mass transit tubes) we focussed on three more doable solutions that came up during our brainstorm – stress balls situated in the car, air conditioning perfumed with calming scents, and an in-car CCTV system to record your behaviour. We chose to develop these ideas over others because they are quite simple and inexpensive, but they could have a large impact on drivers’ moods and behaviours.

To better our understanding of the problems we were looking at, Esther and Kirstie investigated more into the psychology and statistics of road rage, Kristen investigated the use of stress balls to help relieve stress, Steven looked at aromatherapy, researching the effects of different scents on peoples’ moods, and I researched video recording and online communities for use in learning about and changing your behaviour.

Through development and peer feedback we made several adjustments to our original ideas. We realised that letting go of the steering wheel to use a stress ball, albeit with one hand, would be quite dangerous while driving, so we decided that our stress ball would have to fit on to the steering wheel so the driver could access it instantly. This could be a very cost-effective and fun way of tackling stress as it happens. We moved from using the car’s air conditioning to using a simple air freshener design, like many people use in their cars already, which again is cost-effective and simple.

We realised that having a dedicated in-car camera for recording the driver’s behaviour would be quite excessive, so we developed the idea to incorporate a smartphone with a front-facing camera, which many people may already have. The phone could be fixed to the dashboard using a plastic holder, making it easily accessible while driving, and our application could be opened with the press of just one button. We also discussed the app starting automatically when the driver becomes stressed, using some sort of heart monitor, or when loud noises or quick movements happen inside the car. We didn’t develop this idea much further, but the application could be started before the car is even in motion, to reduce any distractions whilst driving.

Application prototype 01.

Starting up the smartphone app is simple.

To sum up, we propose to produce a stress ball-like product that can fit onto the steering wheel of an automobile, so it can be used to provide stress relief while driving. We would also produce air fresheners scented with camomile, bergamot, sandalwood, and rosemary, which are found to be particularly calming on peoples’ moods.

Finally we propose to provide an online service and smartphone application to record and share videos, and connect with other users, to share and learn about their behaviours. The service could be moderated by psychologists who provide advice, and through prompts help the users to reflect on and learn from their behaviour.

Application prototype 02.

An online community for connecting and learning.


Burns, R. G., Katovich, M. A., 2003. Examining Road Rage/Aggressive Driving Media Depiction and Prevention Suggestions. Environment and Behaviour Journal. 35 (5) pp. 621-636.

Dula,C. S., Adams, C. L., Meisner, M. T. and Leonard, R. L. 2010. Examining Relationships between Anxiety and Dangerous Driving. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 42(6):2050-2056.

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., and Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92.

Huneycutt, J. 2010. Road Rage and You [Online] (01 July 2010) Available at: http://ohsonline.com/articles/2010/07/01/road-rage-and-you.aspx  [Accessed 05 December 2011].

Lupton, D., 2002. Road Rage: Drivers’ Understandings and Experiences.  Journal of Sociology, 38 (3) pp. 275-290.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

Wickens, C. 2011. Age Group Differences in Self-Reported Aggressive Driving Perpetration and Victimization. Transportation Research, 14 (5) pp. 400-412.

Assignment 4: Reading and Reviewing.

Two journal articles.

I read these.

To further my research for our RSA brief, as part of our Change by Design module, I have chosen to read two of the journal articles I found during assignment 3. These articles are mainly concerned with reflective learning, and learning using social networking sites.

The 2011 article “Expression and Connection: The Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Public Writing Process into Social Network Sites” by Park et al, in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, looks at the reflective learning process and the public writing process as a way of improving the quality of reflective learning on social networking sites, and it proposes a model for reflective learning on social networking sites based on two key areas of such sites: individual expression and collaborative connection. The most important information in this article, for me, is in the sections related to using social networking sites as a tool for reflective learning, and the areas specifically on individual expression and collaborative connection.

This article makes many references to other articles and studies, and I found a few of the quotes used particularly relevant to my research. Branch and Paranjape (2002) are quoted as saying that reflection ‘brings about “growth of the individual – morally, personally, psychologically, and emotionally, as well as cognitively”.’ Park mentions a 2009 article by Branch and Kastanis which identified three major obstacles in adopting a social networking site framework for reflective learning, which are 1) insufficient time, 2) technical difficulties, and 3) the reflective learning process being insufficiently integrated into the social networking site characteristic – in this article, Park looks to solve this third obstacle. Park also uses several diagrams in this article which I found especially useful: Gibbs’s (1998) diagram of the reflective learning cycle, Kolb’s (1984) diagram of the experiential learning cycle, and Strauss’s (2008) diagram of the public writing process. I found these diagrams particularly relevant, as they display exactly the kind of information I was looking for throughout my research, my question essentially being “Can an online forum environment be used for self-reflective learning to aid in understanding and changing behaviour, and how?”

Park has provided two new diagrams, based on the ones mentioned previously. The first diagram shows the expression process on social networking sites, and it combines Kolb’s and Gibbs’s reflection processes and Strauss’s public writing process. The second diagram shows the connection process on social networking sites, detailing four stages of the connection process: searching, expressing, reflecting, and connecting. Again, I found these diagrams very helpful, as they outline very succinctly the processes of expression and public writing, and connection. Park also gives an exemplary model of and a customisable framework for web-based reflective learning, which is incredibly useful in setting out the stages of web-based learning – there are several stages mentioned, including initiation, preparation, expression, connection (the process of giving and receiving peer feedback), reification (collecting and critically reviewing selected feedback), actualisation, and evaluation. Understanding these stages will be extremely useful in building a successful online learning community environment, because allowing users to participate in these stages will give them a very good basis for self-reflection, and learning about their own behaviours.

The article concludes that in an online learning community environment, the reflection process should be integrated into the processes of expression, public writing, and connection. It also concludes that levels of participation in such a community are subject to change depending on the users’ needs and learning objectives, and that the quality of social networking depends on the media types used, and the development of the content.

Park assumes, however, that the internet is consistently available to everyone. Park quotes numbers of social networking site users from Park and Kastanis (2009) and Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe (2007), but these figures come from undergraduate class numbers – there are no figures relating to non-students, the middle-aged, etc.

Park also quotes a study which says that reflection is often regarded as time consuming and an annoying interruption, and which goes on to say that learners can become introspective and anxious about their actions, which can affect the quality of their reflective practice. However, Park uses these statements to convincingly support his own argument, that the design of a reflective learning community should focus on the users’ engagement in and participations with others users, and the public writing process.

The 2010 article “Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services” by Huang et al, in the journal Educational Technology & Society proposes the idea of collaborative services to help service users find learning partners based on shared interests. It contains the results of a survey Huang performed to determine user satisfaction from the collaborative service platform. The key question the article poses is whether or not knowledge sharing in communities of practice is effective, and if users can be assigned learning partners based on shared interests and expected outcomes from the service.

The article contains the results of a survey conducted by Huang and his associates themselves, which positively support the point of the article. Many studies are referenced, but some key sources which I found relevant are Huang et al (2009) – the idea of supporting collaborative learning with blogs, Yang and Chen (2008) – the idea that knowledge sharing communities could be based on social networking sites, and Fischer et al (2002) – where’s it’s concluded that social relationships have an impact on learning in a collaborative environment.

The main conclusions Huang comes to are that learning activities can be well supported by a collaborative learning process, and that knowledge sharing by learning partners assigned due to similar interests and specialties is successful, and rates highly in user satisfaction. The section titled “Results and Discussion” contains the following information, with supporting references:  Knowledge sharing attitude, system quality, information quality, and service quality have positive influences on the collaborative service platform.

The information in this article is geared very positively towards building learning communities based on collaboration and interaction, and the authors found that in such communities, user satisfaction is high. Using the information laid out in this article, and following the references made throughout, could lead us to a greater understanding of what it takes to build a successful learning community, with an atmosphere designed to foster collaborative and reflective learning.

The main assumptions this article makes are, again, that the internet is available to all, and that users will actually want to be partnered with someone based on their interests or specialties, rather than find their own friends and way around an ‘open’ community. There doesn’t seem to be any allowance for letting users work by themselves, as the author shows that learning communities work well when users are partnered up – however, there should perhaps be the option to work alone, and opt out of being partnered with other users based on shared interests and specialties, at least until the users feel comfortable within the community environment.

I am happy with the information I have gathered through my research into this topic. I came at this assignment with quite a specific question – can an online forum environment be used for self-reflective learning to aid in understanding and changing behaviour, and how? I think that through my research I can say with a degree of certainty that an online community environment can be used for self-reflective learning and understanding behaviour, as long as the framework is right. Of course, learning is a very changeable and diverse subject, and the service’s success would depend very strongly on the users’ attitudes and commitment to it.

One article is based on the results of a study conducted by the authors themselves, and the other uses secondary sources of information as a base for the points it makes, but both of my chosen articles do seem to support each other. They both conclude positively towards online learning communities in a similar vein to social networking sites like Facebook, and even though our idea was more along the lines of a forum or bulletin board, I think the conclusions presented still apply to our design. Park et al propose an actual model for reflective learning on social networking sites, which has given me a greater understanding of what reflective learning actually is, and what it entails. It is quite an in-depth process, but along with personal expression, public writing, and connection with other users, I think it could be an extremely helpful process to give users a better understanding of their own behaviours.

I am still very interested in the idea of using personal videos to aid the self-reflection process, either in a candid, simply behaviour-recording way, or as a sort of video blog, so to have a better understanding of this I would like to conduct further research – during my search for information for assignment 3 I noted a number of articles related to using videos in a learning context, so I would like to investigate those articles to see if videos really would be useful in the kind of learning environment that our service would provide.

As part of the assignment, our groups were asked to meet up in order to get a fresh perspective on our projects. Team 8 and team 7 took over the DJCAD cantina for a while to discuss what we’d been looking over. Our groups had both become aware of each others’ projects after last week’s Pecha Kucha style presentations, but it was really refreshing to meet up with another group who had a completely different project, and hear what they had to say in a more relaxed setting.

Assignment 4 meetup.

Teams 7 and 8 discussing our projects.


Branch, W. T., and Paranjape, A., 2002. Feedback and reflection: Teaching Methods for Clinical Settings. Academic Medicine, 77 (12), pp. 1185-1188.

Huang, Y.-M.,  Jeng, Y.-L., and Huang, T.-C., 2009. An Educational Mobile Blogging System for Supporting Collaborative Learning. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (2), pp. 163-175.

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., and Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92.

Park, J.Y., and Kastanis, L.S., 2009. Reflective Learning through Social Network Sites in Design Education. International Journal of Learning, 16 (8), pp.  11-22.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

Yang, S. J. H., and Chen, I. Y. L., 2008. A Social Network-based System for Supporting Interactive Collaboration in Knowledge Sharing Over Peer-to-peer Network. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 66 (1), pp. 36-50.

Assignment 3: Looking Up, Looking Down.

For Change by Design’s 3rd assignment I chose to research more closely the areas of learning through video playback and using online communities and mobile devices for learning, in relation to our chosen subject in assignment 2 – road rage. I also sourced a couple of articles on road rage in general, as I feel it is beneficial to understand the psychology behind road rage. I spent a fair bit of time in DJCAD’s library computer suite using CrossSearch, a service which allows Dundee University students to search through databases, library catalogues, electronic journals, and information held on external websites, and which I must admit I found frustrating at times.

I have produced an annotated bibliography of books and articles which I think are relevant to my area of research:

Cheng, G., 2009. Digital Video for Fostering Self-Reflection in an ePortfolio Environment. Learning Media and Technology, 34 (4) pp. 337-350

Here Cheng studies whether digital video playback affects the level of self-reflection and peer feedback in online learning. This study found evidence to support the use of video as a reflective tool in an online learning context.

Galovski, T., E., Malta, S., L., Blanchard, E., B., 2005. Road Rage: Assessment and Treatment of the Angry, Aggressive Driver. American Psychological Association.

This book examines the psychology of road rage and also looks at cognitive-behavioural treatment for angry, aggressive drivers.

Gordon, C., 2009. Reviewing how distraction involvement is coded in the New Zealand crash analysis system [Online] (Updated 17September 2009) Available at: http://www.internationaltransportforum.org/irtadpublic/pdf/seoul/3-Gordon.pdf [Accessed 2 November 2011].

This article contains many relevant figures about road accidents due to distraction while driving – we don’t want to create a service that requires too much attention while the user is driving (e.g. using a mobile device while driving, not keeping their mind/eyes on the road, etc.).

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., & Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92

This article considers the online knowledge sharing networks that have been made popular by the advent of Web 2.0, which easily facilitates interaction with other people, and looks at matching learning partners with similar interests and specialties.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

In this article Park looks to improve the quality of reflective learning on social networking sites by introducing individual reflection and collaboration into the learning process. This could be useful for our service because we want people to be able to look back on their behaviour and learn from it, rather than just create a log of things that have happened and move on.

Patterson, P. G., McColl-Kennedy, J. R., Smith, A. K., Lu, Z., 2009. Customer Rage: Triggers, Tipping Points, and Take-Outs. California Management Review, 52 (1) pp. 6-28

This article recognises that road rage, school rage, and customer rage are becoming increasingly common in our everyday lives. It examines the underlying psychological processes of stress, explores the triggers that give rise to rage behaviours, identifies the tipping points for incidents of anger and rage, and explores the extent to which these circumstances and coping behaviours can be generalized across Eastern and Western cultures. It also talks about actions that can be taken by managers to prevent customer rage.

Robelia, B., A., Greenhow, C.,Burton, L., 2011. Environmental Learning in Online Social Networks: Adopting Environmentally Responsible Behaviors. Environmental Education Research, 17 (4) pp. 553-575

This article focuses on environmental issues – greenhouse gas emissions, etc. – but it could certainly be relevant to our service too. The authors studied the use of an application in Facebook and found that self-reported environmentally conscious behaviours increased during the users’ use of the application.

Yeh, Y.-C., 2010. Analyzing Online Behaviors, Roles, and Learning Communities via Online Discussions. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (1) p. 140

In this article Yeh looks at online learning communities, and identifies the main behaviours and identities that can be found in online communities. The main behaviours found in these online communities are creating a positive attitude, providing opinions, and providing reminders about assignment-related work, and the main online identities found are information providers, opinion providers, and troublemakers.

I have also compiled a list of journals and online resources relating both to design in general, and specifically to textiles:

The Design Journal is an international journal covering all aspects of design, and is published 4 times a year.

Made, part of the Materials Knowledge Transfer Network, is published three times a year.

The International Journal of Design publishes research papers in all fields of design, and is published 3 times a year.

National Geographic is always worth a browse.

As is Discovery News.

And the good old BBC.

Craft Scotland, the home of Scottish Craft, is great for exploring crafts and the community of designer-makers in Scotland.

Crafts Council aims to “build a strong economy and infrastructure for contemporary craft”, “increase and diversify the audience for contemporary craft”, and “champion high quality contemporary craft practice nationally and internationally.”

Textile Forum aims to cover as much of the textiles industry as possible in vivid detail.

Textile: The Journal of Cloth and Culture is published 3 times a year, and “brings together research in textile studies in an innovative and distinctive academic forum for all those who share a multifaceted view of textiles within an expanded field.”

Textile Report delivers “extensive trend information for the whole textile and fashion market” 4 times a year.

Purple Fashion is a French magazine on fashion, art, and culture, published biannually.

Selvedge “covers fine textiles in every context: fine art, interiors, fashion, travel and shopping”. Published 6 times a year, it’s always worth a look.