Design Thinking Forward – Session 4: Prototype


This session focused on providing the students an extended understanding of prototyping. For building an effective prototype, it is not enough to conceive some functionality. We must take into account that before using our prototype, the user must learn how to use it. Therefore, a human-centered focus of prototyping is to make it easy for the user to learn the usage. In other words, we must consider various modes of human learning.

I started with classical conditioning, and the students were amazed how often they encounter this learning mode in everyday life – from famous actresses in commercials, a threatening melody in an action movie, or the colors of food.

Next learning mode was operant conditioning. Everybody was clear on the basic modes of reward and punishment, i.e. positive reinforcement and positive punishment. In contrast, it was difficult for all to understand the substractive nature of removing a stimulus, i.e. negative reinforcement and negative punishment. Yet, I really believe that understanding these modes can be key to open up a whole new realm of dealing with reward and punishment.

Last but not least, observational learning from Bandura’s famous social-cognitive theory. It seemed the most intuitive learning mode to most students. Most of them really liked my life example of teaching them a breakdance move, and thereby demonstrating the acqusition phase (attention, retention) and performance phase (motor reproduction, reinforcement) of operant conditioning…