KMD Capstone Students impress at the KMDI Spring Poster Session

On April 24th, KMDI held it’s fourth bi-annual Spring Poster Session. The event, designed to showcase student work from KMD Collaborative Program, also featured projects from the MI KMD Concentration Capstone course. This event enabled students to engage with the community, faculty across the University of Toronto, and industry to discuss knowledge media applications.

This years winners were Fern Burge, Al-Ni Cheung, Junoh Kim and Peter Richard from the Re-design of OneHSN Group.  This is an especially momentous occasion as the winning team is from the first graduating class of the new MI Concentration in Knowledge
Media Design, launched in 2013.

Spring Poster winner group_
“For the Knowledge Media Design Capstone Course, our team engaged with RBB Innovations to complete a User Experience Re-design of their online childcare enrollment service, OneHSN. We completed a heuristic evaluation and identified a restrictive linearity, an invisible algorithm, and an unassuring conclusion as the key usability issues. Our UX intervention tackled these issues by designing a more visible process and engaged users with more control, agency, and intention.”

Of the winning project, Dr. Colin Furness, lead professor of the Capstone Course said he was very proud of the RBB design team’s output. “I think the success here was a perfect storm of complementary student talent, a group that gelled together, the right size design problem of the right complexity and a client that was really forthcoming”, said Dr. Furness.  “You can’t predict any of those in advance, which is a delightful consequence of a real-world orientation.”  Part of what was award-winning about this poster was that it was a project that needed, “an analytical design approach to dismantle the user experience and build it up again.  That’s exactly what the group did and the client was thrilled.”

Dr. Furness has been part of the University of Toronto iSchool since 1994 and says the best things about teaching the KMD Capstone Course are working closely with students, enacting the iSchool’s first studio-oriented course, and gaining insights that will lead to enhancements and improvements next year.

Colin Furness_ImageAbout the purpose of the Capstone Design Course and how it differs from other courses at the U of T, he says it is different in two ways: “First, universities are good at transmitting knowledge, but poor at inculcating skills: knowing by doing, instead of knowing by talking.  Embedding students with an industry partner for approximately 6 months allows students to form skills from the base of knowledge they have already acquired.”  He continues by saying that, “presenting to clients and listening carefully to their feedback is an extremely important skill that can only be learned by doing it.” Another important way the course is different is that students self-evaluate to identify knowledge gaps and undertake presentations to address those gaps.  Peers critique those presentations subsequently gaining another industry-related skill.

When getting ready to teach the course, Dr. Furness said his main goal was “to enable students to be able to enter the workforce with the confidence that comes from having an improved knowledge base, and a strong portfolio piece having developed skills in dealing with a client and a sustained design process.

It may be difficult to articulate the main skill students gain by studying Knowledge Media Design, as KMD is a term that exists within the University of Toronto, and not on a typical job description. However, as the Poster Session wonderfully showcases, students will have enough practical design work, grounded in a solid knowledge base, to get their first career-oriented job.  Dr. Furness says that potential post-grad titles can include Information Architect, User Experience Architect, or Interaction Designer.

Congratulations to Fern, Ali-Ni, Junoh, and Peter.  We look forward to seeing the implementation of your redesign and wish you all the great success as you leave the iSchool and KMDI.

To view the winning poster please click here — Winning Poster from the Poster Session.

-written by Raquel Russell