The course introduces the Human-Centered Problem Solving Approach that responds to the needs of the communities we design for. The course is challenging the traditional design approach of products, services, spaces or even systems.
Following this design thinking, we are choosing a design challenge assigned by IDEO. We are following three steps: Exploring a context; Generating innovative ideas and Creating effective prototypes in the world.
The selected pre-crafted design challenge is related to improving educational experiences of new immigrants. Since we are already working on Beirut River Project, we decided to choose the neighborhoods around the river: Bourj Hammoud and Nabaa. Our design challenge is thus improving educational experiences of the Armenian community, Syrian refugees and migrant workers.
The Inspiration Phase focuses on field research activities in the neighborhoods. The course asks us to immerse ourselves in the context. Field visits in Bourj Hammoud and Nabaa helped us gain insights from the community and their local experts.
The Ideation phase turns the insights into questions that must be answered to generate ideas. We have formulated four questions:
- How might we provide programs focusing on learning skills to improve money making?
- How might we create a new system to disseminate information to different target groups?
- How might we provide services for all target groups without discrimination?
- How might we provide alternative educational platforms other than schools?
The final Implementation phase transforms the questions into prototypes that need to be tested to get feedback from the end-users.
As designers, the exercise is teaching us new methods of including people in our design decisions to promote social change; it is also helping us turn our observations into site-specific design opportunities, veering away from generic and unspecific solutions.
This connects us back to our bottom-up approach applied to Bring Beirut River Back to Life.