Herron School of Art and Design

VC5 / Methods for Innovation

Syllabus / Fall 2018


HER-V 410




MW 8:30–11:00am


Aaron Ganci
Steven Williams


This course will prepare you to successfully utilize design as a catalyst for innovation and change. Along the way, you will investigate the world of People-Centered Design, Innovation, Creativity, Design Thinking, Design Process, Design Research, Research Facilitation and Design Research Methods.

In this class you will first gain an understanding of people-centered design and design research. Through practical application, you will gain practice conducting a range of methods for design research, both inside and outside of the studio. You will use design research methods to sort through and tackle complex conditions— where you must identify and define those unstated needs for design—possibly utilizing design that goes outside the classic concerns of traditional visual communication design. You will utilize your visual communication design skills to create appropriate and meaningful data visualizations to convey and communicate data collected in your methods. This skills learned in this course should augment and feed into your Capstone course, becoming both a resource and testing ground to try out new tools, methods and approaches that you can utilize in your Capstone projects.

Structure and Process

This class meets 5 hours each week. Monday/Wednesday class time will be structured around the following kinds of activities: lectures & in-class activities, discussion from assigned readings, studio work time, individual and group critiques, individual presentations, field research preparation & field research, individual or group analysis of collected data, and individual development of visual communication outcomes. You are expected to work a minimum of 7.5 hours outside of class per week to achieve the class goals.

Learning Objectives

There are few high-level learning objectives we have for you this semester. These objectives will be addressed in different ways through each project.

  • Understand the relationship between design, research, and innovation.
  • Identify the root causes of problems
  • Recognize patterns that are present in defined contexts
  • Test and evaluate design solutions
  • Develop a research plan
  • Embrace risk
  • Rely on people in your design process
  • Communicate effectively.

Learning Outcomes

After taking this course, you will be able to...

  • Discuss the theory, practice and outcomes of commonly used design research methods.
  • Apply design research tools and frameworks.
  • Execute commonly used design methods individually and in groups.
  • Conduct analysis of collected design research data.
  • Speculate on relevant solutions in future-state contexts.
  • Synthesize and present research processes, findings, and reflection about practiced methods.
  • Engage in critical reflection about your own research and design process.


There are few principles that should define our collective approach this semester.

Be present, not perfect

"Design, as a problem-solving activity can never, by definition, yield one right answer: it will alway produce an infinite number of answers, some 'righter' and some 'wronger.' The 'rightness' of any design solution will depend on the meaning which which we invest the arrangement [of design elements]."

-Victor Papanek, Design for the Real World, 1971

Outside of a few issues (spelling, craft, promptness), We will never ask you to be perfect in this class. Your daily goal should be to make your best effort, learn from your mistakes, and continuously improve (even if by very small amounts). Rather than executing perfect solutions, focus on being present and attentive in class, during critique, and in discussions and we promise that you will be a much better designer by the end of the semester.

Be smart about your data

Losing your computer (either from a software crash, hardware failure, theft, or otherwise) is an inevitability. Embrace this and plan for it: have a plan to backup your computer. We recommend having a two-pronged backup strategy. You should have one hard backup on an external hard drive somewhere. If you use a Mac, make sure Time Machine is connected and use it regularly. The other backup should be remote. Aaron recommends using Backblaze for a reliable, seamless, and relatively inexpensive experience: https://secure.backblaze.com/r/019kbx (affiliate link, includes 1 month free).

Be an informed citizen

As a student, you have access to a lot of great resources for free or reduced prices. Take advantage of these while you can. Get your news from somewhere other than Facebook. For example, the Washington Post offers a free subscription for students. Learn how to access it here: http://time.com/money/4671856/get-free-subscription-to-the-washington-post/. You can get the New York Times for only $1/week (https://www.nytimes.com/subscriptions/edu/lp8LQFK.html). Wherever you get your news, get good at assessing the credibility of what you see.

Be forthright

To do our best work together, we need to have a good working relationship. Trust is the cornerstone. Do your best, and if you fall short, be humble and ready to learn. If you need to miss class for any reason, just tell us. We've heard it all and that's okay.

Honesty also works both ways. If something is not going as you would like in this class, tell one or both of us. I'm ready to talk about it and work through it.



In the schedule below, you can see each day's class activity. When assignments are due or you need to bring materials to class, it is noted in the schedule with this icon: . Readings are listed on the day they should be completed and are marked with this icon:

Schedule is subject to change at the instructor's discretion. Changes will be noted in the Change Log

Project overviews:

Week Class Topic

20 Aug

Introduction. What is Design. What is innovation? What is Design Research? Introduce "Day-in-the-life"

22 Aug

Continue 'what is design' discussion. Introduction to analysis. Introduction to "Explore" methods.

Completed Day-in-the-life journal

Papaneck, Manzini, Frascara


27 Aug

Best practices in secondary research. Infographics discussion. Continue secondary research

Muratovski, Nini, Friedman

Design, Research, and Innovation essay

29 Aug

Small group critique of infographics


3 Sept

Labor Day, No Class

5 Sept

Infographic critique

Printed infographic for critique (tiled)


10 Sept

Introduction to Discover/Observe methods. Assign groups, start developing research tools.

Infographic (final print)

Kumar, Chapter 1

12 Sept

Discover/Observe analysis

Research data


17 Sept

Discover/Observe presentations

Presentation/Slide Deck

19 Sept

Introduce Define/Envision methods, start developing research tools


24 Sept

Discuss plan for Define/Envision research

Draft of your Maketool canvas and stimulus

26 Sept

Practice analysis of collected data (bring at least 2 completed tools).


1 Oct

Define/Envision presentation

Presentation, slide deck

3 Oct

Introduce Augmenting Reality; form Design Pairs


8 Oct

Augmenting Reality Secondary Research

10 Oct

Augmenting Reality Secondary/Primary Research


15 Oct

No Class: Fall Break

17 Oct

Augmenting Reality Primary Research


22 Oct

Augmenting Reality Small Group Critiques

24 Oct

Augmenting Reality Primary/Evaluative Research; solution refinement


29 Oct

Augmenting Reality Primary/Evaluative Research; solution refinement

31 Oct

Augmenting Reality Small group critiques (solution and narrative); Halloween party??


5 Nov

Augmenting Reality Solution refinement; pair meetings with instructor

7 Nov

Augmenting Reality Solution refinement; pair meetings with instructor


12 Nov

Augmenting Reality Solution refinement; pair meetings with instructor

14 Nov

Augmenting Reality Project (specifics TBD)

Augmenting Reality deliverables Due; Group Critique


19 Nov

Capstone Exploration

21 Nov

No Class: Thanksgiving Break

24 Nov

The Game (Go Bucks!)


26 Nov

Capstone Exploration

28 Nov

Capstone Exploration


3 Dec

Capstone Exploration

5 Dec

Capstone Exploration


10 Dec

No class session

All Capstone Exploration Deliverables Due

Grading and Projects

Your grade will be broken down into the categories below*. Participation includes: being present and on time, asking and answering questions, helping to improve understanding of course content for others. Your full attention is expected during class time.

Category % of overall
Exercise: Design, Research, and Innovation 5%
Process and Methods 30%
Augmenting Reality 50%
Capstone Exploration 10%
Reflection 5%

*Categories and percentage breakdown subject to change. You will be informed of any changes and they will be noted in the Change Log.

Late work

Every assignment in this course will be due at the beginning of the class of its defined due date. Work that is not handed in via the method requested by the instructor (Canvas, email, etc) by the predetermined time will be considered late. The consequences of late submission fall on sliding scale, increasing in severity over time. Grade reductions will be assigned on a case-by-case basis (depending on your specific situation) but the following scale will be used by default:

Due date/time – same day, end of class -10%
Same day, end of class – same day, end of day (11:59pm) -15%
Next day (midnight – 11:59pm) -20%
Any subsequent day -50%
Grading scale
A+ 100-98
A 97-93
A- 92-90
B+ 89-87
B 86-83
B- 82-80
C+ 79-77
C 76-73
C- 72-70
D+ 69-67
D 66-63
D- 62-60
F 59-0



101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization by Vijay Kumar, 2012 (Amazon)


Universal Methods of Design: 100 Ways to Research Complex Problems, Develop Innovative Ideas, and Design Effective Solutions by Bruce Hanington et al., 2012 (Amazon)

Design, When Everybody Designs: An introduction to Design for Social Innovation by Ezio Manzini, The MIT Press, 2015 (Amazon)

Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek, 1972 (Amazon)

Design Studies: Theory and Research in Graphic Design by Audrey Bennett et al., 2006 (Amazon)

Just Enough Research by Erika Hall, 2013 (A Book Apart)

Research for Designers: A Guide to Methods and Practice by Gjoko Muratovski, 2016 (Amazon)


Attendance Policy

Being present and active in this class will have a positive impact on your design skills and abilities. What you learn in this class and your growth as a designer is directly related to your engagement with course projects and in-class discussions. I plan the semester around how I can most effectively impact your learning within the time we have together (a.k.a. our class sessions).

Attendance will be taken at the beginning of class every day. You will not receive an standalone "Attendance grade" however, most/all projects will include 'soft skills' points that will factor in attendance. Missing class will ultimately result in lower grades.

As with all IUPUI courses, we follow the Administrative Withdrawal Policy. This policy basically says that if you miss 50% of the sessions in the first quarter of the course, you may be administratively withdrawn from the course. That withdrawal may have financial ramifications as you may no longer be eligible for a tuition refund. Read more about Administrative Withdrawal Policy.

General Course Policies

All university approved course policies apply to this course. To reference the policies about course withdrawal, disabilities, academic integrity, and more, please see http://registrar.iupui.edu/course_policies.html.

Academic Integrity

Pay careful attention to the university policies on Academic misconduct. Cheating, fabrication, dishonesty, interference, and especially plagiarism will not be tolerated in this course. You can find more information about these topics in Indiana University's Code of Student Rights, Responsibilities, and Conduct.

Two-Step Login (Duo)

Duo will be required for all students beginning November 2. Be sure to bring your primary device (like a cellphone or tablet) to class so you can log in to secure IU systems. Also make sure you have a backup device like a hardware token or Google Voice. If you get stuck without a working device, the UITS Support Center can give you a bypass code, but it takes up to 20 minutes. You can learn more about Duo here: https://kb.iu.edu/d/bfgm.

Other important links

  • For students with documented disabilities, please visit Adaptive Educational Services.
  • The university has several policies and procedures when dealing with emergencies. You can find many of them, including Active Shooter situations, Bomb threats, Fire, and more at Protect IU. If you have not signed up for IU-Notify, you should now. This service keeps you informed of emergency or weather related events happening on campus. You can sign up here.
  • Here are links to the Fall 2018 Academic Calendar and Finals schedule.

Header source: http://gph.is/2bWVxuD

Change Log

4 December 2018: Updated the grade breakdown. Previously, it was:

Category % of overall
Exercise: Design, Research, and Innovation 5%
Process and Methods 15%
Augmenting Reality 50%
Capstone Exploration 30%

2 October 2018: added Augmenting Reality assignment sheet and updated schedule to include details for that project.