65: HCD Ideation: Synthesis Phase


Class 3 Readings in “Design Kit_The Course for Human-Centered Design.” Dropbox. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.

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Key Terms:
  • Learnings:
    • highlights from interviews, observations, and anecdotal notes from Inspiration Phase
    • communicated in full sentences to capture whole stories
  • Themes:
    • categories that organize learnings
    • capture similarities in multiple data sources
    • headlines for clusters of similar learnings
  • Insights:
    • succinct expressions of what was learned
    • offer both new and expected perspectives
  • How Might We …?:
    • generative questions based on insights that trigger brainstorming
  • Ideas:
    • brainstormed items that answer How Might We … ? questions
    • during brainstorming these ideas are not judged
    • can be represented by quick sketches
HCD Ideation Phase: Synthesis Steps
  1. Capture Your Learnings:
    • Set up a download space: space with lots of room for displaying Post-Its
    • Download learnings: 
      • document key findings on Post-Its
      • print out key photos
      • what to capture?
        • personal details – who? age? location? profession?
        • interesting stories
        • motivations
        • barriers, frustrations
        • interesting interactions with people and the environment
        • lingering questions
    • Share inspiring stories:
      • tell compelling stories
      • be descriptive and specific
      • share the who, what, when, where, why, how
      • identify resonant stores
      • Tips:
        • actively listen – compare / contrast stories, identify recurring themes
        • capture information in small pieces – quotes, succinct stories
        • display notes – display and organize Post-Its on wall by data source details
  2. Search for meaning: identify themes that can inform design
    • Don’t feel shy about retelling key stories
    • Cluster related information:
      • each picks top 3
      • cluster Post-Its in categories such as: consistent problems, shared significance, surprise elements
    • Find themes
      • name clusters
      • rearrange until all themes have been identified
    • Turn themes into insight statements
      • each theme can have multiple insights
      • express as complete sentences
    • Revisit your challenge
      • revisit initial design challenge using insights
      • narrow insights using design challenge to top 3 – 5
  3. Create “How Might We … ?” Questions (generative questions)
    • multiple questions per insight
    • use plain simple language
    • aim for proper scoping
      • too narrow – hinders creativity
      • too broad – not actionable
    • suggests starting points
    • suggests key logistics
    • select Top 3
      • trust gut
      • select most generative questions, not necessarily the easiest ones


The Human Centered Design (HCD) Process is an approach that can be used to develop projects that engage students AND teach content & 21st Century skills. The Ideation: Synthesis phase converts research into meaningful actionable insights.  It converts learnings into design opportunities.  These are skills that students and teachers can develop in order to learn how to better interpret and leverage data.


Preparation Steps
  • HCD Inspiration Steps applied to Solving Student Learning Design Challenge
    • Select a design problem that relates to student learning and complete the Inspiration phase
    • Recruit a design team that will help you document and identify key insights that you gathered during the Ideation: Synthesis phase
  • Scaffolding HCD Inspiration Steps for Students
    • Experience HCD process prior to facilitating it to learn how to better scaffold it
    • Let students in design teams select a worthy design challenge (or assign one)
    • Guide them through a student friendly, time effective version of the  Inspiration phase
    • Develop visuals and assign readings that teach students key steps in student-friendly version of the Ideation: Prototyping phase
    • Secure A LOT of Post-Its or teach them how to use a post-it app
Early Implementation Steps
  • HCD Ideation: Synthesis Steps applied to solve student learning design challenge
    • Meet with design team in a space with lots of Post Its and wall space.
    • Record these learnings on Post-Its.  See above for details.
    • Work with data team to identify recurring themes. See above for details.
    • Work with data team to identify key insights. See above for details.
    • Work with data team to formulate and prioritize “How Might We … “ questions. See above for details.
  • Scaffolding HCD Inspiration Steps for Students
    • Facilitate student design teams through a student friendly version of the steps listed above
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • HCD Ideation: Synthesis Steps applied to solving a student learning design challenge
    • Gather more research on lingering questions
    • Repeat early implementation steps again
    • Then move unto to Prototyping phase
  • Scaffolding HCD Inspiration Steps for Students
    • Let students reflect on how HCD_ Inspiration Steps can be used to develop better insights to problems in other courses and in their own lives
    • Facilitate students through Prototyping phase

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