STAR framework revisited: Curriculum for user-centered design summer schools

Roberts, Joi L.; Schadewitz, Nicole and Adler, Pedro Jorge (2008). STAR framework revisited: Curriculum for user-centered design summer schools. In: Proceedings of Connected 2007, International Conference on Design Education, 9-12 Jul 2007, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.



Annually, an interdisciplinary community of students, researchers and practitioners from computer engineering, social sciences, Human Computer Interaction, visual communication and other related disciplines, gather together for 2-to-5 weeks to participate in intensive summer school sessions. Although the overall theme and the participants vary each year, these programs remain focused on the teaching and practice of User-Centered Design (UCD) in the context of the local community where the academy is conducted. By listening to lectures, working in ateliers, living with target users and facing real-world design problems, participants experientially learn a mixture of IxD processes, ethnographic methods, prototyping techniques and teamwork skills, despite the program's short duration.

Intensive design summer academies like this are essential, as they offer an environment for experimentation that is difficult to create in other educational settings. However, organizing and implementing these programs in ways that optimize the learning process is challenging. As past participants, atelier leaders and instructors for a variety of summer workshops, the authors made several poignant observations about the need for an educational framework to facilitate learning and to address the students' diverse cultural backgrounds, educational disciplines, learning techniques and cultural markers. Upon further examination of the educational literature, ethnographic observation during subsequent summer sessions and interviews of past students, atelier leaders, lecturers and organizers, the authors proposed the STAR Framework for design summer schools. [see Schadewitz, Adler, Moncur, Roberts, 2006]

While this framework offers organizers clear direction on structuring IxD summer schools, it provides little guidance on the curriculum itself. It has become clear that special attention must also be paid to the content, order and delivery of the curriculum, particularly given the limited time frame of the session. Building upon the established framework, this paper proposes a curricular construct that will maximize knowledge transfer within the summer school context.

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