Dirty hands do all the thinking in LXD

June 10, 2020

by Patrick van der Bogt

How to prepare for and perform a virtual session on prototyping?

Let’s start with a pitfall. When contributing to the wonderful Learning Experience Design Conference (LXDCON20′) this week there are two modes that became triggered for me. Firstly, as a designer my curiosity to hear from other designers and my longing for creative energy manifest themselves. Secondly, as a teacher I want to impart my passion and knowledge to others. Being challenged by the purely online environment, the pitfall for me is to be as exact as I can in transmitting information to others. Death by powerpoint looms on the horizon…

But fortunately a desire to be part of a creative process triumphed at the end of the day. But what about the need to be precise and concise, the urge to explain and create a shared understanding? For me it means I need to pour energy into some very specific things I can make. Designing shapes and letters, figures and symbols and gradually… become more playful. Instead of putting pictures and bullet points into slides, I invest time into visualising and making tangible the concepts and lines of thought that are worthwhile to share with others. And by also allowing some ambiguity and messiness, my experience is that it is easier for everyone to find an entry point into the story that is being presented.

I mostly think through my hands. Tactile sensations mix with cognitive processes and together they map out a field of ideas. Whenever a thought evokes a feeling of being stuck, getting my hands dirty for 15 minutes with pastel vaporises the blockade. (A matcha-mango lassie is another secret trick.)

And so it came to be that for my session on prototyping -in itself a very visual and tangible phase of designing- moving drawings, Lego figurines and materials around with my hands before the camera’s eye evoked the most creativity for myself. And hopefully it became a vitalising learning experience for everyone involved through watching. Not only with their minds, but with other senses tingling as well. That could be where teaching and designing become the same.

Feel free to check out my playlist (new videos are being added) on prototyping for learning experience design.