Ethical Design: Evaluating Digital and IRL Experiences (and how one might support or hinder the other)
Communication Design/City Tech
UX and UI Design
Activity Description: Provide a brief description of the activity
In a Data for Good lecture at Columbia's Data Science Institute, dana boyd of Data+Society told the audience that her proudest achievements are often when she convinces a client not to create something that can potentially do harm.
When does it make sense to NOT make a digital version of something that would be better designed IRL? Are there activities that are more suited to online than IRL? Or are there cases where a combination of both appropriate?
In this exercise, I shared a few articles about online activities that have had an impact on real life. We discussed both positive an negative reviews of online activities, including Pokemon Go, which is often discussed in terms of it's getting gamers to be more social and active to Instagram, which has been shown to have a negative effect on the self-esteem of teenaged girls. A third example was on how social media use is contributing to the political polarization of America by removing the public commons from public space to largely anonymous forums.
After discussing these articles, students formed breakout groups to find a news article about an online activity and discuss the pros and cons of that activity online. And to also discuss how that activity could be replaced by or combined with an IRL activity to improve the experience. Finally, they posted a reflection on the exercise to the class Slack group.
Learning Goals: What do you aim to achieve with this activity?
This activity focuses on three learning outcomes: Reading, Information Literacy and Ethical Thinking. Students are asked to read an assigned text describing Digital vs IRL spaces and then in select an example from the reading of a digital experience that might be better In Real Life or paired with an IRL experience. After discussing in groups, they then share back to the class what they discussed and finally post a reflection on course discussion board about their understanding of the pros and cons of digital vs IRL for the chosen scenario.
To address Information Literacy, students must find one additional example of digital applications where the IRL experience takes precedence over digital. What might someone gain from a physical experience that they can't get from digital? When might a digital application enhance the IRL experience?
And to expand their understanding of who is impacted by their design decisions, they then work in groups to make a stakeholder map showing who is affected by the designed experience of your example. Who is participating in the experience? Who else might be affected by the experience? Or harmed? Who might be left out?
In addition to the reading, information literacy and ethical Thinking student learning outcomes, students gain gain from two High Impact Education Practices: Place Based Learning and Collaborative Assignments.
Students consider the physical and embodied experiences of IRL versus digital experiences
Students participate in Discussion of the pros and cons of selected digital experiences
Timing: At what point in the lesson or semester do you use this activity? How much classroom time do you devote to it? How much out-of-class time is expected?
This activity was part of the Ethics and Accessibility lecture in Week 7 of the Spring 2022 semester. It took a little over a half hour to complete. There was no out-of-class time except if a student wishes to post their reflection after class. If we had more time (and were not otherwise online this week) we might have been able to go outside and play Pokemon Go or survey people about their online and offline political activity on campus grounds. We may still try to create an online/IRL activity during a later session and follow up with a stakeholder map, which we did not have time to do.
Logistics: What preparation is needed for this activity? What instructions do you give students? Is the activity low-stakes, high-stakes, or something else?
The activity was low stakes and ungraded. The only preparation was to find three articles to discuss as examples of Online activities that either replace or compromise IRL experiences.
Assessment: How do you assess this activity? What assessment measures do you use? Do you use a VALUE rubric? If not, how did you develop your rubric? Is your course part of the college-wide general education assessment initiative?
Because this assignment is ungraded, I plan to use it as part of the participation grade. I do not believe my course is part of the college-wide general educaiton assessment initiative. It is an elective.
Reflection: How well did this activity work in your classroom? Would you repeat it? Why or why not? What challenges did you encounter, and how did you address them? What, if anything, would you change? What did students seem to enjoy about the activity?
Students enjoyed discussing online versus "In Real Life" very much. They are very aware of online activities that are creating unrealistic expectations for their real-life relationships and are concerned about exacerbating these experiences through their design careers. I would like to refine the activity and possibly replace a duller accessibility study that they do for credit and that could be done in class in groups or as a demonstration. Not being able to go outside or actually be IRL was an issue with this activity, though some students mentioned that it made it easier for everyone in their group to search for articles since they were all sitting at a computer anyway.
Additional Information: Please share any additional comments and further documentation of the activity – e.g. assignment instructions, rubrics, examples of student work, etc. These can be links to pages or posts on the OpenLab.
The activity presentation for the Living Lab course is openly available at : https://cuny907-my.sharepoint.com/:p:/g/personal/noreen_whysel27_login_cuny_edu/EeDP7sDKTAROh1Nle8uKlagB5bMXEem7EM4k6Lvh7nagBA?e=FgnQIx
You can also read about the activity on the course blog at https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/-whysel-comd-3562-he93-sp2022/2022/03/28/ethical-design-evaluating-digital-and-irl-experiences-and-how-one-might-support-or-hinder-the-other/
Please share a helpful link to a pages or post on the OpenLab
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