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Design, Development, Creativity

The learning log

“Keeping a journal is a humbling process. You rely on your senses, your impressions and you purposely record your experiences as vividly, as playfully, and as creatively as you can. Generating learning log, is a learning process in which you are the learner and the one who teaches.” Holly, 1991.

As a student of Digital Innovation programme, through the first semester of my studies for the Design, Development, Creativity module, I have enhanced my knowledge around the topics of designing and programming software development cycles. And also I have broadened my research skills in order to conduct a corrective proposal research project for a digital service or product.

The overall accentuation of this module was about learning basic theories, practices of these theories, research methodologies and frameworks and also enhancing our knowledge in designing and sketching user interface mock ups.
Project planning in tech systems have become more challenging since their subject matter are becoming more intangible and challenging with the improvement of the technology, and also there is a huge demand for more specialized skills to managing these subject matters.

The entire knowledge that I’ve gained in this module could be categorized into three main classifications which are mainly the basic theories, practical exercises, and frameworks or methodologies, which are as follows.
Regarding to the basic theories that I have read in literatures since the beginning of the first semester, Generally I’ve been learning a wide range of topics about programming, designing and researching in terms of software development processes. During the first days of the semester we have been introduced with different definitions of a system, particularly, the definition of tech systems in software development lifecycles.

According to the papers that we have read for this module, there are some models of software development cycles- Namely, Waterfall, SCRUM and Extreme Programming- studying all of which could show the progress of software development cycles through out the time.
The waterfall model is the conventional model for programming which has four steps of analysis, design, implementation and test. These steps are the initial steps of programming in software development cycles. In the process of creating and developing a software with using the waterfall model, programmers could deploy the entire four steps without repeating, in order to ultimately develop a platform. Regarding to the longitudinal nature of waterfall model, there are some limitations which make this model less effective and inflexible. These lifecycles as a matter of perspective are more rigid, hence they tend to overlap with the other parts of the development process in that they are inflexible to change. (Racoon, 1995)

According to Beck through out the entire software development life spans, “if the long development cycles were bad, because they couldn’t adapt to changes and perhaps what we needed was to make shorter development cycles.” (Beck, 1999)
Therefore, the later generations of software development models have been generated to address the problem of traditional approaches which tend to have more values with comparison to the waterfall model. As such, SCRUM and Extreme Programming(XP) models which have shorter life cycles, and they are more flexible to adapting changes, therefore programmers are able to gather early and tangible feedbacks and also they could test before coding, which are the privileges of the Agile Software Development cycles. The SCRUM and Extreme Programming models are the agile approaches which have iterative life spans which means developers are able to gather early feedbacks before coding and also they are more simple, hence the coders with these prototypes are no longer needed to change the entire platform after coding. The agility culture has some privileges such as small release, pair programming, continues integration, to name but a few.
In this regard, I could find the opportunity to enhance my skills about different life cycle archetypes and the progress of these cycles which have been improved in software development domain.

With considering the daily iteration of agility culture, developers are able to increment the functionality of the coding process by optimizing or continuing on the procedure of the development while the whole process is still in progress. The Extreme Programming as one the agile software development cycles, has some advantages which make it to be more effective and flexible such as small releases and its iterative nature.

Furthermore, regarding to the practices of XP programming, there are some practices which tend to deploy much more frequent than others, such as refactoring, pair programming, testing and continuous integration, which shows the primacy of feedback process for this framework of software developing. Hence, in my point of view, the emphasis on iterative lifecycles, leads this methodology to an effective quality, since the ratio of making mistakes during the programming would be lesser than, when only one person is in charge the whole coding procedure.

Through our classes we went over varied exercises in terms of putting theories in practice. The aim of these practices was about to evaluate the results of the theories whilst putting in practice and try to find out the potential challenges which are underlined in theories. The first activity that we were required to do, was to record a time lapse video in order to asses an activity in a system over a period of time and so we could analyze the errors and find out the the potential problems. I approached to this activity by recording a time-lapse video of the cars which are queuing and waiting for payment before entering or exiting to a parking lot. Finally, I proposed automated plate recognition system, which is able to recognize the plate of each car and every one could charge their plate for this system and so they could interact without queuing for paying parking fares.

The other exercise that we have carried out was creating a cantilever in groups, while each group had same amount of materials and time. The activity was to build the most stable and tallest cantilever in a limited time, in order to evaluate our brainstorming in an open-ended problem solving situation. The challenge of this practice for me was the limited time which could moderate the quality of brain storming. It should be noted that while group members were working on building the cantilever, each five minutes one of the members required to evaluate the quality of brain storming and at the end each group should create a design activity graph. With creating this graph the members who you were working on the cantilever unconsciously tend to work better since they had known that they are observing and so they tend to behave better. On the other hand, I assume that the graphs would be more accurate, if the scoring process had specific standard and criteria and each person could be able to follow the standards, since by scoring to the quality of anything, quality would be assumed differently by any individual in that every one has their own standards in terms of scoring the quality. Moreover, during this module I could find the opportunity to learn how to design user interface mock-ups with balsamiq tool which is a mock-up designing platform. During this task first of all we sketched a text-free search interface on paper and then a digital sketch by the balsamiq platform. The experience of learning how to design an interface was precious for me in that this skill could also be useful for other aspects of my studies and even for my professional career.

Finally, for our research project we were required to chose a digital service or product in terms of evaluating the feasibility and usability of the service or product and ultimately propose a corrective proposal due to improvement of the service. We have chosen the usability of the UCD mobile application in terms of its indoor navigation services.

Throughout this project we did a survey with 30 participants with a questionnaire which entails questions with the purpose of evaluating the application in terms of its usability for digital indoor navigation services. The questions were targeted to asses the design of the user interface and also evaluate the perception of the users. All of this is underlined with the premise that the role of interface designing is impactful on the user friendliness of all digital services.

As our methodology we chose the IDEO methods which has tools and techniques such as look, learn, ask, try and we managed our tasks with the purpose of these tools, hence at the end we could gather effective feedbacks due to the problems the application. With utilizing each of the techniques we gathered some information and feedback about the application and ultimately we proposed a corrective proposal for the UI design of the application.

During the process of our survey we made a video of the participants while they are asking to do the tasks in order to capture their behavior under real conditions.

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