Understanding what it means to be a designer is a great challenge for new interaction design students. Building on Donald Schön’s concept of the reflective practicum, which involves learning by doing in a structured setting, the ReflecTable aims to show novice interaction design students what it means to design, through a design game. The design game guides groups of students through a condensed design process, utilizing artifacts that they themselves bring with them from a real life design project on which they are working, and allowing them to reflect on their own design practices, as captured on video.
The design game is played on a custom-built hardware/software platform. The hardware consists of a 40” touch screen PC and four 11” tablet PCs, all running Windows, embedded in a custom-designed table with networking hardware, a camera, and the necessary cables. The software is a custom system based on the Surface 2.0 SDK.
In studies conducted with the ReflecTable, students learned some basic concepts of the design approach advocated by Schön, for example, the value of engaging in a “reflective conversation” with the design materials. The game also served as an opportunity for the students to reflect on their teamwork, enabling more productive future practice. The outcome differed widely from group to group, mirroring the structured-but-open design of the game.