Methods in Design

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Two Research
Methods in Design
Computing

Mary Lou Maher

May 2003

Characteristics of Design
Computing Research


Develop an understanding of new design
computing technologies


Create new models for design computing
environments


Critical aspect: Create new environments,
new models, new ways of designing using
computers

Two Research Projects


The role of place in virtual learning environments


Objective: study the use of a new design computing
environment


Method: empirical study


Plan: create environment, collect data, analyse


User
-
centred virtual architecture: develop a new
way of thinking about virtual worlds and their
design


Objective: propose a new model


Method: Generate and test


Plan: develop a new model, implement, demonstrate

The Role of Place in a Virtual
Learning Environment


Premises




1.
Virtual worlds have been used as virtual learning
environments in many universities


2.
The design of virtual worlds assumes that place is an
important concept in online activities


3.
There is little empirical evidence of the role of place in
a virtual learning environment


Places are spaces which have meaning


(Harrison and Dourish, 1996)



Evolve out of the activities of those that inhabit them and
take on meaningful attachments to those who pass
through them



Physical learning occurs in different kinds of places


Classrooms, Lecture Theatres, Laboratories …..



Virtual Communities are examples of the significance of
a sense of place, contrary to Meyrowitz’s notion of
placeless
-
ness.

Research Questions: Role of
Place in VLEs


Does the 3D Virtual Place and its sensory environment
encourage the students to be more collaborative and
engaged in their learning experience?




Does having a sense of place help the students to take a
constructivist approach to their learning?




Does the 3D virtual place enable and encourage a more
tactile and visual approach by the lecturer to
management of the learners?


Research Plan


Develop a virtual learning environment in a 3D
virtual world


Collect data on students engaged in learning
tasks in the 3D virtual world


Analyse the data to find correlations between
place and learning activities

Research Methodology


An adaptation of design protocol studies, except
we capture conversations rather than ask
students to “think aloud”


Process:


Data is gathered from the conversations of the
students/lecturers in the VLE classroom.


Data is cleaned and placed in a coding format.


The coding scheme is developed and tested on a sample
of the data.


The data is coded using the Delphi Method.


Coded data is analysed and results produced.




Virtual Learning Environment



The studio has two distinct parts:


Classroom


Student Galleries


Students navigate and communicate using an avatar.


Students construct and display their knowledge and
learning experience using contextual learning resources
and tutorials.


Student galleries provide a place for a visual
representation of students' own design work submitted
for peer review and collaborative feedback.


Virtual Learning Environment

1.
Common Area
: a public space
for discussion and general
meetings.

2.
Entrance Area
: entrance
providing general information.

3.
Level One
: an open platform
providing level one course
materials.

4.
Level Two
: an open platform
providing level two course
materials.

5.
Level Three
: an open platform
providing level three course
materials.

6


17.
Student Gallery Spaces
:
places for students to display their
designs and customise their own
place.

Classroom like place surrounded by Student Galleries.

Students communicate ‘Talking by Typing’ and are free to explore
and gather information

Virtual Learning Environment

Coding Scheme


1.
Communication Control

2.
Communication Technology

3.
Social Communication

4.
Learning Communication

5.
Place Communication

Method of Analysis

There are two key areas of focus


Communication about learning


Concepts


Objectives


Cognition


Communication that refers to place


Gestures, Citizenship, Identity, Ownership


Locations, Exploration, and Presence

Major Categories of
Communication

Control

16
%

45

Technology

2
%

5

Social

1
%

4

Learning

50
%

139

Place

30
%

84

TOTAL

277

Communication that refers to
place

Gestures

-

GES

4
%

3

Location

-

LOC

20
%

17

Identity

-

IDT

31
%

26

Exploration

-

EXP

6
%

5

Presence

-

PRS

29
%

24

Ownership

-

OWN

5
%

4

Citizenship

-

CIT

6
%

5

TOTAL

84

Place Communication

Place Communication in a Course Lecture
Gestures - GES
4%
Location - LOC
20%
Identity - IDT
30%
Exploration - EXP
6%
Presence - PRS
29%
Ownership - OWN
5%
Citizenship - CIT
6%
Dynamics of Place
Communication



These graphs represent parallel timelines (each time
point corresponds to an utterance) for each category of
place communication.


We can see the clustering and scattering of
communication events as they occur at various moments
during the session.

Dynamics of Place Communication
1
5
9
13
17
21
25
29
33
37
41
45
49
53
57
61
65
69
73
77
81
85
89
93
97
101
Utterances
Gestures
Location
Identity
Exploration
Presence
Ownership
Citizenship
Communication about location



We looked more carefully at the first cluster of points
related to location.


By looking at the text extract of the conversation we find
that students are being gathered to a specific location.


Lecturer:
Everyone come over to the main entrance area
please


Student 1:
I am here


Student 2:
I am here too


Communication about location


The second major cluster involves students now moving from the
starting point of the session to a new location in the virtual learning
environment.


This new location is identified as the student gallery.



Lecturer:
Ok lets go over to the gallery



This notion of movement is identified in the chart by the exploration
code, which is found to occur at a point close to the three major
clusters for location.


Communication about location


The combination of location and exploration identifies a relationship
between the two codes




Implies movement of students from one place to another.



The implication of movement by the students, is instigated by the
lecturer



This can be interpreted to mean that some type of organisation or
management of student movement is occurring in the environment.


Analysis of Place
Communication


We can infer a hypothesis from the combination of the two codes
-

Location and Exploration.



This is illustrated by looking at a key point in the discussion where
the two codes connect at key point 60
.



Lecturer: (to student 1)
let us go to the level one area


Student 1:
ok



Our hypothesis is for the management of learning:



“Places enable students to be gathered to a specific location and to
visualise their presence at the location to enable focusing of
attention”

Analysis of Learning
Communication


1.

Learning Communication in a Course Lecture
” using the coded
transcripts we characterise the learning process by describing the
statistical results of the three categories of learning communication
-

Concepts
,
Objectives
, and
Cognition
.


2.

Dynamics of Learning Communication
” we study the collaborative
process that occurs by following the threads of conversation in the
discussion sessions.


Learning Communication

CONCEPTS

Introduction

-

IOC

22
%

12

Acceptance

-

AOC

0
%

0

Rejection

-

ROC

0
%

0

Clarification

-

CLC

36
%

20

Confirmation

-

COC

13
%

7

Development

-

DEC

16
%

9

Repetition

-

RPC

0
%

0

Referencing

-

RFC

2
%

1

Revisiting

-

RVC

4
%

2

Evaluation

-

EVC

7
%

4

TOTAL

55

Learning Communication

Learning Communication in a Course Lecture
Introduction - IOC
22%
Acceptance - AOC
0%
Rejection - ROC
0%
Clarification - CLC
36%
Confirmation - COC
13%
Development - DEC
16%
Repetition - RPC
0%
Referencing - RFC
2%
Revisiting - RVC
4%
Evaluation - EVC
7%
Learning Communication



The majority of the conceptual learning process revolves around
clarification and development of understanding of the learning
concept.



22% of the overall discussion involves introducing a new concept
this is a ratio of 2.5:1 compared to the clarification/development



Where evaluation of the learning concept is around 6:1 compared to
the clarification/development and about 3:1 compared to the
introduction of a concept.


Dynamics of Learning
Communication



we study the collaborative process that occurs by extracting from the
transcripts two threads of conversations


Those initiated by the lecturer and those conversations initiated by
the students.



We look further at the types of collaboration that occur such as
conversations that occur between:


Student (question) to Student (answer/elaboration/development)


Student (question)
-

Lecturer (answer)
-

Student (elaboration/development)


Where the conversations go


How long the conversations last

Analysis of Communication

Dynamics of Learning
1
4
7
10
13
16
19
22
25
28
31
34
37
40
43
46
49
52
55
58
61
64
67
70
73
76
79
82
85
88
91
94
97
100
Introduction
Acceptance
Rejection
Clarification
Evaluation
Repetition
Referencing
Revisiting
Lecturer
Student 1
Student 2
Summary of “the role of place”


Research methodology was adapted from a
method used in cognitive science and then
compared to methods used in studying new
technologies in education and learning


The analysis of the data is the starting point for
finding patterns and therefore identifying
principles and characteristics that can generalise
beyond a single experience

User
-
centred Virtual Architecture

Premises


Virtual Architecture is a kind of virtual place that uses the
metaphor and components of physical architecture to
create places for online human activity


Current virtual architecture follows the same process of
physical architecture: design and build persistent
infrastructure


There is potential for virtual architecture to be designed
and used as needed, and then removed when not
needed.

Research Plan


Propose a model for user
-
centred Virtual
Architecture


Develop and implement the model


Demonstrate the use of the model


Identify the contribution of the model

Research Methodology


Combines models from artificial intelligence and
design research:


Agent models


Design grammars


Adapt the models for the new context


Incrementally develop, implement, and test the
model


Build a demonstration system

Background: Agent Models


Reflex agent and utility agent

(Russell and Norvig, 1995):


An agent in general.


The reasoning processes involved
.


Agent models of 3D virtual worlds

(Maher and Gero, 2002):


A society of agents.


Each agent is represented as a component of the world.



Rational agents
(Wooldridge, 2000)


An agent reasons about its environment


An agent has beliefs desires and intentions

?

environment

actions

sensors

effectors

agent

What the world

is like now

Condition
-
action rules

What action I

should do now

Agent

Sensors

Effectors

Environment

Basic Agent Model

Interpretation

Hypothesizer

Action

Sensors

Effectors

The World

Virtual World Agent Model

Design Process in a UcVA Agent


4 computational processes:


Interpretation
: transform the raw inputs to data for
reasoning and learning.


Hypothesising
: identifies the design goals for the
agent.


Design
: reasons about how to achieve the design
goals.


Action activation
: identifies the actions needed to
realise the design solutions.


Shape Grammar Formalism


Shape grammar

formalism

(Stiny and Gips 1972,
Knight 2000):


Shape grammar
: a set of shape rules.


Shape rules
: description of the spatial forms of the designs, or
relate to the goals of a project that describe from functions to
meanings to aesthetics.


Shapes
: basic components of the shape rules, could be
points,
lines, planes or spatial volumes
.

Generate Shape Rules


Analysis of
the CRC World design
:


CRC world
: a virtual environment in AW supporting
collaborative research.


Aim
: generate shape rules that capture a specific style.


Style
: the common characteristics of using forms and
representing functions.

Analysis of the CRC World Plan

Shape Rules Evolved from the
CRC World Plan


Rule 1 and rule 2
:






Rule 3 and rule 4
:

Shape Rules Evolved from the
CRC World Plan


Rule 5 and rule 6
:






Rule 7 and rule 8
:

Shape Rules Evolved from the
CRC World Plan


Rule 9 and rule 10
:






The CRC World plan could be regenerated by applying
the above rules in a certain order.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Initial Shape

of the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 1

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 2

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 3

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 4

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 5

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 6

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


Step 7

for generating the CRC World plan.

Re
-
generating the CRC World Plan


From the initial shape to the CRC world plan.

Replacement Rules for Generating
3D Spatial Volumes


Replace 2D shapes with
3D units
:

Replacement Rules for Generating
3D Spatial Volumes


Replace 2D shapes with
3D units
:

Re
-
generated Form of the CRC
World Design


Re
-
generated form
of the CRC World design:

Design Rules for Representing
Functions


Three rules for representing

the functions

of a meeting
room in the CRC World:

Generating A Meeting Room
Design Using the Design Rules


Generate a new meeting room plan
:
initial shape
.


Generating A Meeting Room
Design Using the Design Rules


Generate a new meeting room plan
:
step 1
.



Generating A Meeting Room
Design Using the Design Rules


Generate a new meeting room plan
:
step 2
.



Generating A Meeting Room
Design Using the Design Rules


Generate a new meeting room plan
:
step 3
.



Generating A Meeting Room
Design Using the Design Rules


Generated plan
:


A Meeting Room Design Using the
Shape Grammar Formalism


A view of the generated meeting room design.

Summary of Virtual Architecture
Research


Research Methodology is similar to the methods used in
computational models research


The “interesting idea” is to turn the process of designing
virtual architecture inside out


The computational model combines models from AI and
design computing research


The implementation and use of the model highlights the
contributions

Comparison of Two Research
Projects


“Role of”: identify new technology and
collect data on its use (empirical)


“Virtual architecture”: develop a new
model, implement, and demonstrate
(conjectural)