Sketch-Ins: A Method for Participatory Design in Technology-Enhanced Learning

Authored by: Brock Craft

Handbook of Design in Educational Technology

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  June  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415807340
eBook ISBN: 9780203075227
Adobe ISBN: 9781135118969


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One of the most useful and inexpensive tools for designing technology-enhanced learning (TEL) systems is probably on your desk right now. I am not referring to lightweight programming environments, developer tools, mock-ups and wireframes, or even paper prototypes. No, I mean the humble bit of graphite enrobed within a couple of pieces of wood—the pencil. In this chapter, I will describe ‘Sketch-ins’, a participatory design approach that leverages the value of freehand sketching for creativity, collaboration, and problem solving in TEL design teams with two or more participants. A Sketch-in is a group design activity in which participants use freehand sketching to collaboratively identify, process, and resolve design problems. The approach is simple, rapid, requires only a few inexpensive tools, and is suitable for a wide variety of TEL design problems, including creating new software or re-engineering existing systems. I will explain the kind of problems you might expect to solve, how to set up and run a Sketch-in, and what you can expect to get out of it. Along the way, I will also highlight some of the research on why and how sketching works.

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