By: Arya Patel

The understanding phase of the Open Design project has been very interesting because it allowed me to shift from a “that will be too hard to solve” thought process to a “this is an important issue” focus. While keeping this constantly in mind was difficult, it has been a really meaningful and productive experience. 

Another aspect of this week that has stood out to me is how considering multiple stakeholders can really transform and deepen the problem space we are working in. When interviewing professors, my team and I were really able to get a more nuanced point of view on the challenges and dilemmas they face. While we were previously stuck in a student mindset, now we are able to humanize professors beyond an extension of the administration and deliverers of curriculum to real people who are also trying to adjust to online learning challenges. We gained a sort of user-empathy that will definitely positively impact our creation design process. 

One challenge we faced was hearing pessimism in our users about online learning. Coming from a place of excitement, innovation and readiness for change. However, as we talked through this as a team we realized we should take this pessimism as an opportunity to ask “why?”  to get to deeper roots of concerns. This helped us pivot interviews into more productive and engaging conversations that could truly help us define a specific but important problem and give us key insights.