Submitted by Leah, Issac, Pei-Wei, and Arjana
Nelson & Stolterman in the Design Way (2012) has several underpinnings from Wenger’s Communities of Practice (CoP). One element both authors discussed is reification, the making something real, bringing something into being, or making something concrete. While Nelson & Stolterman did not explicitly use the terminology of reification, they discuss how “It is design will and design intention, guided by design judgement, that transform the abstractness of relevant scientific knowledge and other forms of knowledge into a final unique design, the ultimate particular. The ultimate particular is that which “appears” in the world” (p.32). CoP consider reification as a “process to giving form to our experience by producing objects that congeal this experience into “thingness”, and this helps to focus the negotiation of meaning. Nelson & Stolterman believe the importance of design as a process of the ideal becoming real, and how design inquiry is essential to designers.
The second element both authors discussed is meaning making and creating a community. Nelson & Stolterman’s chapter on service emphasises the importance of design being about service on behalf of the other. Designers should “make meaning” for clients by listening and finding out their desires. They must develop their own meaning making and trusting relationships with their clients. “It is important, at this juncture, to make a distinction between “finding meaning” -that is, adaptive expertise-in things that happen, and making meaning” -design expertise-by causing things to happen. The former is reactive and adaptive, while the latter is proactive and intentional. To be in service is to be proactive. In this case, the designer must help bring to the surface a clearer articulation of a client’s desiderata as a positive proactive impulse.” (p. 43)
We were thinking about how to facilitate the making of self-awareness, as described by Nelson & Stolterman. We can imagine an online site with fillable self-assessment forms and a place for self-journaling. This would probably be part of a digital learning portfolio incorporated into the class assessment and evaluation, maybe even with an online checklist that feeds information directly into an excel file for the teacher. These artifacts would partially serve as scaffolding for learners to articulate evidence of their learning process and goals. Part of their “grade” might be essay assignments or individual blogs and one-on-one meetings with the instructor at mid-term and culminating sessions to discuss and show evidence of the steps they have taken in the learning process. Alternatively, this could be done as video-recorded focus groups or even multi-media group productions. If we want learners to participate in self-directed research and to bring in and share the information they find, then we should also expect them to be able to justify the work they have done, both in terms of how it transforms their individual knowing and feeling, but also how it is important to creating real change.
Therefore, to be service centered designers, the service relationship is “distinct, complex, and systemic relationship with a particular focus on responsibility, accountability, and intention” (p. 42). To help designers achieve this, they should consider embracing the 3 major dimensions of Wenger’s (1998) description of community: 1) mutual engagement, 2) a joint enterprise, and 3) shared repertoire. These three elements and their sub-characteristics directly relate to the importance of meaning making and a service design focus which negotiated enterprise, mutual accountability, doing things together, discourse, artifacts and relationships are all important elements, creating a balanced relationship. As a result, design should come to it’s meaning as service that won’t separate the designers from their customers but truly become the community of design.