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Present B3.2: Stress Project
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Information

DreamBuilder is a web based application that assists users in making their lifelong dreams come true. By asking the user to think in realistic sub-goals to their lifelong dreams and letting users tie realistic time frames to these sub-goals the user is challenged to think in realistic terms. Sub-goals are then broken up into knowledge and skills and the user is asked to think of learning-activities that develop these skills and knowledge, this step in the process makes sure the user is thinking in Learning-Oriented-Goals instead of Performance-Oriented-Goals. Learning-Oriented-Goals have proven themselves to be significantly more effective over Performance-Oriented-Goals, because the focus is shifted from the end result to the learning path that needs to be followed to achieve these results.

After the user has gone through the process of setting up their dream, sub-goals to their dream and learning-activities they are assisted through the process of realizing their dream. DreamBuilder allows users to intuitively create schedules from their provided learning-activities and dynamically synchronizes these activities with their digital calendars, or allows users to print a calendar displaying the activities to be done on a daily basis. The user can input the amount of invested time in their learning-activities daily in DreamBuilder, this allows the user to keep track of their progress through charts that reflect the users development over time.

The image below shows the full process of dreambuilder. Click the image to enlarge.

Flexibility

It’s a common event that users want to adjust their process along the way, this may happen due to a change in perspective into their field of interest. DreamBuilder allows users to dynamically change and adjust their dreams, sub-goals and learning-activities and see the feedback of these changes in the process dynamically influence their schedule.

Connectivity

DreamBuilder has access to a database of sub-goals and learning-activities; this database helps users to find out what sub-goals and learning-activities are useful to them by providing the user with suggestions specific to their lifelong dreams and sub-goals. The database can be expanded by other users, experts and educational institutes that use DreamBuilder to assist students.

Assistance

DreamBuilder can automatically notice when a user is not on the right track of development. The user is confronted with this issue and DreamBuilder can assist the user in finding solutions to the obstacles. DreamBuilder does this by creating opportunities for reflection for the user by asking questions that troubleshoot the developmental path of the user.

A more detailed description of DreamBuilder can be found in Part 3 of the project report, this report can be found below, or at the evidence tab.

Goals

Just done with my minor psychology I was curious to get back into a design project again, but I wanted to do things different this time. Since Psychology had a much higher focus on scientific thinking and reinforcement (at the start of the minor this was practically new to me) I wanted to use this in my project. This meant that the influences on society my product was to have needed, at least to some extent, a scientific foundation. Since none of the projects I did before were reinforced by scientific theory; it was a new way of designing to me. I was also curious to which extent science would be useful in a design process; I was aware of the fact that to be innovative, a scientific foundation could become more of a burden to accomplish results, and hold back the process. But as a faculty of an academic institution I think scientific thinking and reinforcing can be a valuable addition a project. I choose to at least use scientific findings as a foundation and inspiration for the process, and would at a later point in the process decide whether the scientific foundation was useful to be extended to be part of the end result or not.

Since my vision underwent such radical changes during my minor in psychology (read here) I wanted to use these new ideas from my vision in my project. Since I think a vision is really about the designer’s understandings and beliefs, any step or decision in a design process will be lead by the designer’s vision; this should be an automatic process steering the design towards the designer’s vision. As my vision changed so radically I was very curious to what extend my vision would be suitable to a design process and to what extend my vision would manifest itself in my results. The goal here is actually: a goal to reflect, so I will delve deeper into this issue in my reflections.

Reflection

As stated in my goals I wanted to use a more scientific approach to the design process. This lead to me starting off with a broad research into the topic of my project: Stress. The initial research gave me a broader understanding of the concept stress, which in turn gave me a better idea of what the design process should yield in the end, but still left me without a clear direction. It wasn’t until I mentioned, the levels of stress produced through performance anxiety, in a conversation which ended into the advice of the book “The art of failure”. When I was working my way through this book I was happy to discover that the theory also induced some stress reducing effects. I decided to use this theory as the basic inspiration for my design process.

What an important learning experience here is that I think many of these self help books, or in a broader perspective: books describing theories, can be a great source of inspiration for design since many of these theories have already proven themselves to useful be enough to be written a book about. Especially the more widely used theories because of the following two reasons. 1. A widely used theory has a bigger chance of being functional, in other words: it has proven itself. 2. A product based on a widely used theory has the potential to be financially interesting to be developed. I think I can use theories like “the art of failure” which are based on practical and in this case also on scientific research as inspiration in future projects. The reason for claiming that practical research should be enough is that many theories work but cannot be scientifically proven to work. A good example of this is the Placebo Effect, which is sometimes near to impossible to explain scientifically, but yields promising results in practice.

With regard to the implementation of the more scientific approach I can say that the approach did take some extra time; the research phase took me more time then in my previous design processes. I think this is a very acceptable incident, since the concept behind the design also shows a lot more depth than the concepts produced in previous projects, and is, as I stated for a goal, scientifically founded. Although this does include that the final product (the DreamBuilder app itself) has become only usefull to provide an impression of what the final result should be, I believe that having a strong concept that has the depth and potential for further development has great values and this makes me more than pleased with the end result. Having a strong concept, a working product and convincing results of user testing would be a very nice end result for a project; I believe this may be, in some cases, near to impossible to achieve in one semester.

The learning experience here would be that this approach to the design process can yield strong results. Although the results may not yield working finished prototypes in a half year, the potential behind the concept makes up for this. Unlike in many projects in which I always wanted to get my hands dirty as soon as possible just to have “something to show”, leaves this approach me pleased with the resulting concept. The concept has, in my opinion, great potential to be developed in a continuation of the project.

DreamBuilder bridges a few very interesting theories, which have been brought together through a creative process. I have to credit my coach here to have made some impressive links to other theories in response to my abstraction of the theory behind “The art of failure”. These links must have come from a broad knowledge and interest in psychology and in this case entrepreneurship as well. This project has shown me that conversations with others can lead to great results, the randomness of the people one meets and the conversations produced can cause many unexpected variables. This leads me to conclude that although it didn’t seemed so to me at one point, talking to people can be highly creative due to its randomness of input to the process. This may seem very logical, but at some point in the start of my study I did tell my coach “I don’t need coach meetings!”

As expected does the vision influence the process. The concept shows high focus on human development and makes use of the malleability of humans through setting goals and realizing these through self development. This does relate closely to my vision that focuses on human development.

For reflections per competency area I want to refer you to the competencies page.

Feedback

The feedback given by the Project Coach can be viewed by clicking the link below

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Reflection on Feedback

My coach shows a good understanding of the DreamBuilder and I am pleased to with his recognition for the potential of the design. I share the pleasure of working with Dirk as wel, we have overlapping interests and this made our meetings very useful for the design proces. Besides I think Dirk has a great capacity for Abstract Thinking and this is something very useful as a coach, it allowes the coach to keep an eye on the bigger scheme of things. (something I hope DreamBuilder will do for many one day as well). Dirk is right that I could have been more often on the faculty, but I did not find this a very stimulating workingenvironment at the time, since much of my work evolved around research and thinking this is best done in solitude in my opinion.

Evidence

The following pieces of evidence can be found below: