Communication Breakdown (Part 1 of 2)

By Kameko Branchaud, December 11, 2014

Grade Level

  • High School

Category

  • Beautiful Users

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Technology

Lesson Time

1 class period

Introduction

Our opening exhibition Beautiful Users: Designing for People tells the story of how designers began to consider the experience and needs of the user in their product designs. This lesson focuses on the evolution of the telephone through the lens of user-centered design, beginning with Henry Dreyfuss’s Model 302. Through this inquiry, students will discover the impact of everyday people on the world of design. Students will analyze the development of the phone by looking at select examples from the Cooper Hewitt collection, and then compare those artifacts to contemporary telephone designs. This activity is one of two, and can be facilitated with or without its extension, which is also available on our Educator Resource Center. 

National Standards

Common Core CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.R.1-3, 7, 9; W.1, 2, 8, 9; SL.1, 2, 6; L.1, 2, 4, 6

New York State Learning Standards: 

Mathematics, Science, and Technology Standards 1, 6, 7

 English Language Arts Standards 1 & 3

 The Arts Standards 3 & 4

 Career Development and Occupational Studies Standards 1-3b

Social Studies Standard 4

Objectives

·         Analyze the physical transformation of the design of the telephone by looking at photographs of historic objects.

·         Interpret the role and needs of the user on the development of the phone.

·         Analyze and interpret an historic advertisement for one of the objects.

            Compare an historic advertisement to a contemporary one. 

Resources

Lupton, E. (2014, November 6). Model 302 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.cooperhewitt.org/2014/11/06/model-302-telephone-henry-dreyfuss/

Lupton, E. (2014, November 7). Model 500 Telephone, Henry Dreyfuss [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.cooperhewitt.org/2014/11/07/model-500-telephone-henry-dreyfuss/

Lupton, E. (2014, November 8). Princess Phone, Henry Dreyfuss [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://www.cooperhewitt.org/2014/11/08/princess-phone-henry-dreyfuss/

Artifact Analysis worksheet from National Archives: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/artifact_analysis_worksheet.pdf

Photograph Analysis worksheet from National Archives:

 

http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/photo.html

Materials

Pencil and paper for writing and for sketching designs

Vocabulary

Design

Designer

User

Aesthetics

Sketch

Prototype

Smartphone

Phone

Procedures

INTRODUCTORY DISCUSSION AND SLIDESHOW

30 MINUTES | STEPS IN DESIGN PROCESS: Defining Problems and Getting Ideas

Begin by asking your students what they think of when they hear the word “phone.” Give them a few minutes to sketch it (sketch being a quick, loose drawing; they should not be concerned with making it perfect). When everyone is done, look at what they come up with. Pull up the Object of the Day article for Henry Dreyfuss’s Model 302 and the Princess phones. Point out and discuss any interesting results and trends. For example, maybe a surprising number of drawings resembled one of these, or maybe most of them resembled smartphones.

 

Define and discuss the term user: a person who operates or experiences the design. In his 1955 book Designing for People, industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss argued that products should be designed around the needs of the user. This concept of user-centered design is the theme of the Cooper Hewitt exhibition Beautiful Users: Designing for People, and is still central to design fields today. Emphasize the ideas of users and needs throughout this discussion. This opening analysis can be facilitated as a discussion, or as a written assignment (such as an essay or a series of written responses). If you would like your students to complete worksheets for the following objects, follow the link provided for the Artifact Analysis Worksheet by National Archives.

 

Return to the Model 302 Object of the Day article to begin a series of visual analyses with guided questioning. Have your students think through their answers using visual information alone before visiting the accompanying text for extra information. Ask your students to refer to the picture of the Model 302 to answer the following questions:

·         What do you imagine this phone feels like? Consider both texture and weight.

·         Why is the handheld part shaped the way it is?

·         How did the designer plan for the user’s body to interact with it?

·         What are the limitations of this design?

 

Next, show the Object of the Day article for the Model 500 next to the model 302. Lead your students through a visual analysis of the object with the following questions.

·         What changes have been made to this model? What do you think were the reasons for these changes?

·         Which do you find more aesthetically pleasing?

·         Which do you think is more practical?

·         What do you imagine the new model feels like in comparison to the older one?

·         Why is the handheld part shaped the way it is?

·         How does it plan for your body to interact with it?

·         What are the limitations of this design?

 

Next, show the Object of the Day for the Princess Phone next to the previous model. Lead your students through a visual analysis of the object with the following questions.

·         What changes have been made to this model? What do you think were the reasons for these changes?

·         Which do you find more aesthetically pleasing? Which do you think is more practical? Are both answers the same?

·         What do you imagine the new model feels like in comparison to the older one?

·         Why is the handheld part shaped the way it is?

·         How does it plan for your body to interact with it?

·         What are the limitations of this design?

 

Scroll down to the ad for the phone.

·         Based on what you are observing in the ad, who was the target consumer group for this product? What do you see that makes you think that?

·         Follow the link for the Photograph Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives if you would like your students to complete a worksheet for this part.

 

Pull up a current ad for an iPhone.

·         Based on what you are observing in the ad, who was the target consumer group for this product? What do you see that makes you think that?

·         How is this advertisement different from that of the Princess Phone? What does that say about the change in the user?

·         How do the needs and priorities of the consumer influence advertising, or how does advertising influence the interest of the consumer?

·         Follow the link for the Photograph Analysis Worksheet from the National Archives if you would like your students to complete a worksheet for this part.

 

Finally, have your students compare these phones with their own phones (or show an iPhone on the screen).

·         How has the phone evolved since the Model 302?

·         How have the original parts and functions been integrated into smartphones?

·         What were the needs of the user that lead to these changes?

·         What are the limitations of your phone/the iPhone?

 

·         Why are the old phone models in a museum?  

Assessment

Have your students write down their responses, either using one of the analysis worksheets (see links provided) or using your own format. Alternatively, you can do a quick assessment using exit slips. Have your students write the following on a piece of scrap paper:

(Name)

1.                   What is a user?

2.                   What is user-centered design?

 

3.                   Choose one of the phones we discussed today and briefly describe how the user was considered in its design. 

Enrichment Extension Activities

·         See Part 2 of this Lesson on the Educator Resource Center for prototyping and evaluation activities!

 

·         Compare the Princess Phone advertisement to an iPhone ad. How are these products being marketed differently? Who is the target audience for each of them? What features are being highlighted? 

Teacher Reflection

Look around, and think outside of the classroom. Point out things that have been designed with a user in mind, and come up with ways in which these items could be improved. 

  1. I had not thought about how much phones have changed. I think this lesson would be very relevant to students. I know when we do plays that have old phones in them, everyone is fascinated by the old phones.

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