Posts filed under ‘Public Policies’

Escaping “assembly-line instruction”: Design.ed as a desirable education style?

Diagram: CM, Adapted from Dr. Barbara Rogoff 2011 

Education has been a topic touched by various disciplines, organizations and governments. But as important as it is, not many radical moves have been undertaken in places like in my home country. Today I attended a lecture in the “Center for Children, Relationships and Culture“, part of the Human Development Dept. at the University of Maryland where Dr. Rogoff presented research on the way kids [her biggest studies are from indigenous Mesoamerica or kids with that heritage] learn. Her insights suggested that kids from this area have what she calls a learning through Intent Community Participation. As she mentions: “where children are included in a wide range of activities, they are keen observers and learn through contributing to the ongoing activities of their community.” On the contrary, the way the average American is educated is through what she calls: “Assembly line Instruction“. She indicates: “Unlike learning through Intent Community Participation Assembly-Line instruction controls learners’ attention, motivation, and behavior in settings isolated from productive contributions to the community“. In her work, she exposes the benefits of going for a more engaging education that touches reality and ongoing participation.


As soon as Dr. Rogoff presented the characteristics of Intent Community Participation instruction, I started to think: this looks very much like education in design…. Diagram: CM, Adapted from Dr. Barbara Rogoff 2011

No wonder why people are talking about incorporating some design-ed strategies in the schooling system. Design, (more…)


April 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm 2 comments

Data to people: London data store, freeing data for social purposes like education

As mentioned in previous posts like the one on “opening raw data”, concept that was put forward by Tim Berners Lee in his Ted Talk: “The Year the Data went Worldwide”[2010] and made real by institutions like Google with their Google Public Data Explorer ; there are public institutions like the Greater London Authority [GLA] that have started the quest of freeing their data to democratize the utilization of it. They indicate that their intention is not only to make data accessible to the public sector but to common citizens, or “netizens” [Hauben, “Netizens: on the history and impact of Usenet and the Internet” 1997], which entail those networked online citizens that are avid to make changes on their communities over the web. This is a frequent concept in magazines like “The Economist“, when they refer to the empowerment of oppressed communities through the social networking. Nonetheless, empowerment comes to anyone when looking to freeing data to the people. The London Data Store is an interesting platform that combines the benefits of crowdsourcing or grouping social intelligence to understand huge social problems, with a friendly visual interface that allows the users to understand and negotiate thesis that can raise from diverse data connection. It also provides the grounding to “make questions to the data” in different ways, and to put it forward to resolve social issues. One example of this is the mapping of the “under representation of certain groups in higher education”, which combines statistical data with geographical mapping coming from a GIS platform.

If we do it, we want others to do it too, says the GLA: “GLA is committed to influencing and cajoling other public sector organisations into releasing their data here too”. This is a first step to a greater democratization of social innovation.

June 21, 2011 at 3:17 pm Leave a comment

When does social entrepreneurship start making more harm than good?

Pic: PF
A big part from working with social issues is to understand the pitfalls that these convey. Pablo Fernández a business-management alumni from PUC Chile and Master student from Stanford places upfront the controversy on “first world” NGO’s trying to solve some foreign problems. He reports from Kenya:
“I just came back from Nairobi, Kenya, one of the poorest countries in the world (147 of 182 according to the UN within the countries with data), where we had the chance to visit two of the biggest slums in Nairobi; Mathare and Kibera. People told us that in Kibera there are more NGO’s than toilets. Although this may sound funny, it is completely true; there is almost one or two NGO (more…)

April 6, 2011 at 1:07 am Leave a comment

Low income workers state:”Public services in Chile need more attachment”

Picture: Workshop “Nosotros los Trabajadores” [CM]

On December 2010, Pilar Opazo [Sociology PhD Student at Columbia University’s Center on Organizational Innovation] and I [PhD Student Design-Anthro NC State] decided to launch a workshop with low income workers at INFOCAP [University for low income workers in Chile]. This institution has proven to be an exceptional model of social mobility. Pilar, author of the in-press book “Nosotros Los Trabajadores” [seeks to describe the successful organizational model], which was created using information and studies developed in the Research Center at INFOCAP, wanted to “give a voice” to the workers. Using some of Lassiter’s idea of collaborative ethnography and considering our lack of budget and time frame, Pilar and I conducted a Participative Workshop and a Focus Group to listen and expose the content of the book to a group of this workers. A great and mindful discussion flourished.

Picture: Workshop “Nosotros los Trabajadores” [CM]
In this post, I’d like to share some of the insights given by the workers. We learned so much from them. One of the biggest insights came from the idea that the institution INFOCAP really cares about people. (more…)

January 6, 2011 at 3:18 am 1 comment

Public Data Explorer Google- Open public data for decision making

PIC: Image from Google Public Data Explorer.

There is already a lot of research in the social sciences [statistical orientation] that yields raw data for further analysis and decision making. Thanks to the exponential growth of the Internet, there is plenty of this data available for us, simple mortals, to use for answering our own research questions. This type of data has also the potential to be used for decision making in the realm of public policies. In a previous post, we had talked about Hans Rosling and his “Gapminder” , an interactive tool for statistical data exploration [structured data]. Today, I would like to put upfront the example of the Public Data Explorer from Google. Not too late ago, Google bought “Trendalyzer”, a data analysis tool from Gapminder and made this tool even more public. Ola Rosling, Hans’ son, talks about the tool in the following video:

But not only that, the abilities of this new “Public Data Explorer” allows common individuals to explore easily large public data sets [coming from: UN, OECD, WORLD BANK, ETC] by giving them as a default, tools to visualize and communicate this information interactively. Data becomes more accessible and universal. Give it a try.

October 17, 2010 at 5:50 pm 1 comment

Is design one of the ways to avoid “Dutch Disease” in Latin America?

Picture 01: ‘The Economist’ Sept 2010

In a special report about Latin America, due to a lot of the countries celebrating 200 years of independence [the so beloved BICENTENARIO] “The Economist” dedicates a whole issue to articles that refer to issues regarding political and economical background. Even though, as we’ve stated in previous posts, “you can’t put all Latin American Countries” in a bag, as Hans Rosling would point out; there are some issues that can be considered a general trend. Latin America is now enjoying good prices on their commodities. Could we suffer the “Dutch Disease” ? For some, the Dutch Disease, can be a well-known term. Yet it is not mentioned or taught in an ordinary design school. The ‘Dutch Disease, ‘a term coined by this newspaper in 1977 to describe the impact of a North Sea gas bonanza on the economy of the Netherlands. This malady involves commodity exports driving up the value of the currency, making other part of the economy less competitive, leading to current-account deficit and even greater dependence on commodities. This matters because all the more because mining and hydrocarbons are capital-intensive businesses, generating relatively few jobs’ [The Economist, “It’s only Natural”, 2010] The article indicates that commodities are not enough to make flourishing economies sustainable.

Picture 02: Service design project for SCL Airport@Procorp [C.Miranda, N.Cristi]

Even though the article puts upfront some policies taken by some countries like Chile [
Fundación Chile & Corfo] and Brazil which are bringing some manufacturing an other innovations in the goods exportation in order to diversify the use of the commodities; there is still a fear to this kind of scenario: commodities being a “curse”. They pose the question: ‘How do you go from copper to computers?“. Is that the question we should ask? How to get to be an industrialized country? Maybe the model that we [Latin Americans] should follow is that of being “Service leaders”. And not just in delivering the service of “Call Centers”, as the India Model shows [“The World is Flat”, (2005) Thomas L.Friedman]; but delivering other kind of service models that can fulfill the region’s needs [who knows better than natives about their own culture?], that meaning private and public services; and the Northern Hemisphere’s needs at better rates.

Service Design can be the next big thing for Latin America. IDEO and Adaptive Path are (more…)

September 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm 3 comments

Tools: Designing interaction, “making” participation happen for public policies and other enterprises

Figure 0: Card sorting and information display from my students [Kyun Hur, Celise Bravo-Taylor NC State]
As I’ve pointed out in this blog before, designers have the skills to provide tangible solutions to interaction problems. In an interview made to her, professor Amy Smith from MIT indicated: “I’m often frustrated by conferences where the results are just presentations, posters and papers. The output of this conference will be real devices, things that people can use. Participants will be able to take prototypes home with them and start testing them”. This, to me, is absolutely true. And that is one of the interests in why other disciplines are engaging with design: “the making of ideas”. We can see business schools engaging the so-called “design thinking” in Stanford’s D-School [Engineering, social sciences & business around design] the MBA at California College of the Arts or Design Thinking at Rotman School of management in the University of Toronto . There are even some schools interested in working out their public policies as a service experiences driven by design. Why is this? Why are business and PP people getting in touch with design? Figure 01: Game I designed as a researcher in Procorp
Well, design has this articulated way to bring ideas into tangible solutions. But what if we don’t use it for understanding and providing solutions for consumers? What if we use it to work with social problems? Well, we are already doing it. Design is effective in putting down ideas, creating a common language between individuals and articulating needs and goals through “making” things tangible.This design quality of “making” can also be used for research and for participation enhancement.

In my own work, I’ve design methods and tools to communicate effectively with participants. Psychologist and anthropologist Elizabeth Sanders has been working in genera­tive tools , for collective creativity. She was a pioneer in participative methods in the design field. For her, design should serve people, not markets. She talks about co-designing and how to elicit the design abilities that is inherent to every human being. She defines a four-step evolu­tion graphic to reflect the new approach to people. The first step (see image) understands designers as users, this, related to the 1980’s approach related to the Xerox Parc interest in achieving user friendly product. Later, as she sees it, there are design-serving adapt­ers. (more…)

April 29, 2010 at 5:43 pm 2 comments

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contact + citing (CC license)

Constanza Miranda PhD(c) design.anthro
* Currently @ DILAB
* Ex.VR @ Stanford's Center for Design Research [DesignXLab]
* Ex.Instructor @ PUC Chile [Design+Engineering]
Use citations ¡Citar es ético!
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Design for Social Innovation initiative by Constanza Miranda is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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