Kevin Henry
Columbia College Chicago


Kevin Henry, IDSA
Columbia College Chicago

As most design students can attest learning to rapidly ideate is difficult; it takes a lot of time and effort to become proficient enough to connect the pieces into a seamless design workflow. Many students simply never achieve a significant level of competence and feel hampered by their lack of finesse. Making matters worse is the reality that students need sketching in beginning studios to develop their form-giving sensibilities.  As upper level design studios become more challenging, the weak sketcher loses a sense of confidence in his/her ability and this lack of fluency not only impacts the early design stages but hinders the overall creative workflow. 

Rapid ideation sketching requires clear instruction of technical knowledge, repeated practice through meaningful exercises, the right context to connect sketching to innovation and other design processes, and the encouragement that comes with peer-to-peer learning from students and teachers. In other words, a design student doesn’t need a textbook but needs a coach. D-school director George Kembel in a 2010 Forbes article says: “In 2020…..the lone professor will be replaced by a team of coaches from vastly different fields. Tidy lectures will be supplanted by messy real-world challenges. Instead of parking themselves in a lecture hall for hours, students will work in collaborative spaces…..”. This squares well, in my mind, with the rule-breaking we are seeing in true smart classrooms. As educators we need to begin training the coaches for all types of synchronous and asynchronous learning and no technology is more fit for the purpose than tablets. 

With the advent of mobile tablet devices like the iPad, the possibility exists for a virtual form of coaching that could augment and extend traditional teaching by combining rich media (video, audio, and animation) with traditional text/image explanations all wrapped in an intuitive and engaging interactive mobile app that feels very game-like in its content and delivery and connects to the larger community. This presentation will focus on a year long collaboration between an industrial designer and game designer to develop an interactive book (gamebook) for teaching rapid ideation sketching. The game-like interface combines designer interviews, over-the-shoulder video clips of designers at work, animations to break down the process, illustrations and interactives to engage students directly with content. The presentation will include a prototype demo and an exploration of the challenges (and rewards) of conceptualizing, prototyping, and refining such a ‘game’ book.