Cultural Probes

This course is an overview of how, why, and when to use cultural probes for the purposes of design research as well as the aesthetic and socio-cultural considerations necessary for using probes in research at a variety of field sites.

Cultural probes are playful and creative artifacts or stimuli that are introduced into a design research process in order to elicit inspirational responses. We will review examples of cultural probes and stimuli that might be used in a variety of design research traditions including critical making, critical design, design fiction and speculative design approaches.

Learning Objectives
Students will become familiar with the use of cultural probes as they are situated within different design research traditions. Specifically, the goals, opportunities and advantages will be compared with the limitations, difficulties and disadvantages of using cultural probes through a series of examples from design projects around the world.

Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe the history of cultural probes within design research traditions
  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of using cultural probes
  • Articulate the features and purpose of successful cultural probes
  • Understand potential applications for cultural probes in a variety of sectors and with a variety of topics and issues
Managing Interdisciplinary Teams Design Connoisseurship Engaging Stakeholders in Innovation Special Topics Faculty Research Design Process and Knowledge Making the User Centered Case
Modeling Complexity Theories of Communication Fundamentals of Visual Communication Advanced Diagramming Metaphor and Analogy in Design Diagram Development Communication Strategies Communication Design Workshop
Extensions of Media and Technology Interactive Space Interaction Design for Embedded Systems Interaction Design for Immersive Systems Prototyping Interactions Persuasive Interaction Design History of Interaction Design Interaction Design Methods Digital Development Workshop Interaction Design Workshop
Planning + Strategy
Designing Futures Adaptive Leadership Strategies for Open Innovation Organizational Models for Innovation Social and Economic Context of Design New Venture Design Innovation Methods Planning Implementation Business Models and Value Webs Business Frameworks and Strategy Design Planning Workshop Introduction to Portfolio Planning
Design Development & Implementation Product Architecture and Platforms Form and Materials New Product Definition Product Design Workshop
Systems and Systems Theory in Design Networked Objects Networked Cities Human System Integration Systems Modeling and Prototyping Platform-based Design Strategy Systems Approach to Design Information Structuring and Management Structured Planning Workshop Service Systems Workshop
User Research
Stimulus in Design Research Behavioral Economics Online Research Methods Principles and Methods of User Research Coding and Analysis Co-Design and Participatory Research Methods Survey Methods Cultural Probes Experience Modeling Interview Methods Research Photography Research Planning & Execution