To help designers capturing their empathy experience so they are able to gain additional insights when they return from their field work.
20 min to multiple class periods
Small Groups 2-6
What are Field Notes?
Field notes are a way of recording the designers observations, insights and other findings from their time with the users. In design thinking we look to record more that just written notes about what we saw. Field notes have the potential to provide more insight if they include drawings, stories, quotes and other relevant media. The more the designer can paint the picture of what they are seeing the more they will be able to use their field notes to gain even deeper insights when they return to their designing space.
Why teach Field Notes?
Different team members will have different experiences and the better they record their experiences the more they will be able share with their teammates. Additionally, in some cases, details that may seem trivial during the initial observation phase can turn out to be invaluable later on in the process.
How to teach Field Notes?
When teaching students how to take effective field notes it can be helpful to guide them through a process of trial and error so that they can begin to understand how to take notes that are useful throughout the design process. It is important for students to get exposure to a number of different methods so that they can determine what works best for them.
Sample lesson (45-55 min)Materials:
Cameras, Video Cameras, Sketch paper, pens and paperObservation (20-30 min)
Challenge your entire class to observe a single situation (this can be during recess or lunch at school or at an off site location if possible) and give different members of the class different instructions on how to record what they see, ie pictures, video, notes, stories, quotes, or drawings. Share (10 min)
Bring the whole class together and ask them each to share what they recorded. This will illustrate the value and limitations of each recording method. Discuss (15 min)
Lead the class in a discussion about taking effective field notes by asking some of the following questions:
- How did the information gathered through the different media differ?
- Why is it valuable to use a variety of media to record field notes?
- How can you use the different kinds of information gathered?
- If you were going out to do more field research tomorrow what would you use and why?
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