Expertise and Experience
UPDATES: The A-team (A for Asthma!) has been working on rapid prototyping. We’ve focused on a storybook model to address the following question, which was developed after months of user research and reviews of the clinical literature:
How might we clarify or facilitate a child’s expression of their asthma symptoms so that their parents may know what actions to take for their care?
The storybook would feature colorful pictures and appeal to children between the ages of 3 and 6. We wanted to incorporate a “choose your own adventure” type of feature, so that children could decide what story line to follow, depending on how they felt that day and what symptoms they were experiencing. At the same time (and more importantly), the book would serve as a teaching tool to allow for better communication between children and parents (which addresses our question above).
So far, we’ve visited the children’s section of Barnes and Noble (see previous post) and dedicated a meeting to developing quick prototypes to get things started. This week, we’ve been trying to develop some more workable prototypes. Sensing some slowed momentum, I wanted to reach out to someone with a lot of design experience, especially with projects geared towards kids, and to try to get some insight—perhaps we could find some new meanings and directions for our project in this way.
So yesterday, I got the chance to talk to Hannah Chung, one of the original DFA co-founders, who along with another DFA alum (Aaron Horowitz), is currently working on their project, Jerry the Bear, at the Betaspring accelerator. Jerry’s ancient relative to other projects—he followed soon after DFA’s inception at Northwestern in 2009; I first met Hannah during Summer Fellows 2010. I remembered that she had worked on another children’s health project for DFA: Color Me Brave, a coloring book for kids with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I figured there might be parallels between the design process for Color Me Brave and Hannah’s other projects that could help out the A-team.
After getting updates on Jerry (he’s doing very well), Hannah and I got to talking about the A-Team’s progress and our attempts at rapid prototyping. In a nutshell, this is what she recommended: take a step back and create a journey map. For example, we could match the symptoms that we’ve researched with how children actually communicate about those symptoms with their parents and others. In other words, our rapid prototyping could benefit greatly from some highly-focused user research that links what we’ve learned and studied to what words and phrases (in the real world) actually flow back and forth between children who have asthma and their parents.
Hannah and I talked about some other things, too, not all of them about journey maps, but what I did take away from our conversation is something that I’m going to term “translational design,” a way for me to describe applied design using the language of one of the hottest fields in medical science today. “Translational medicine,” currently a popular undertaking for clinicians, policymakers, and scientists, describes how we can take clinical or basic science research findings, combine them with what we know about our society and its people, and use all that insight to treat and/or improve the health of patients in some way (e.g. via new drugs, new devices, or even new systems—all for therapeutic benefit; the movement of biological findings in the lab to the market, or from the proverbial “bench to bedside”).
Analogously, during this stage of our project, “translational design” can help us map out all the medical and pediatric asthma-related research we’ve accumulated in a way that can show us how children actually communicate their symptoms with their parents. This way, our storybook will be better informed, both in terms of the science/symptoms and the communications/reality. Ultimately, we too would like to translate our months of research into a workable solution that addresses our question way up there.
I’m excited to see what new directions our project might take once we start developing a journey map for our users’ experiences!
Next Steps: We want to create a journey map to capture what’s actually said between parents and their children with asthma. We’re looking for anyone whose got a child with asthma to help us with this part—please contact us if you’d be willing to give us your input! We can even honor or feature you and/or your child on our blog if you’d like (but only with your permission, of course).
We went to Barnes and Nobles for our meeting, which turned out to be quite fun. So we are thinking we should mix it up in the future as far as meeting location goes.
We read a few story books to get a feel of what writing a children’s book for kids with age ranging from 3-8. One of the few characteristics that we thought of include:
Claire, if you want to add to any of these pointers, since you took notes, whereas i’m just recalling from what I can remember, please do!
I enabled comment for this site! You are welcome to post any relevant information or questions for our project!
How might we clarify or facilitate a child’s expression of their asthma symptoms so that their parents may know what actions to take for their care.