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Last week, my classes began working with the Baltimore Orchard Project, a non-profit here in the city that seeks to connect people to food and each other through orchards. The two classes that are working with BOP are my Interaction and Interface Design (IDIA 612) and Advanced Interaction Design (IDIA 712) students.
The connection was facilitated by our Director of Experiential Education, Darien Ripple. I talked with them in an initial meeting about problems they might be having (we approached them, not the other way around) and was there any online, or in-person interactive "things" that they liked. I compiled a list of interesting problems to solve and brought that to the class. In true User Research fashion, the classes met with the client and asked them hours worth of questions to better understand the situation and really find out what the problems were.
The IDIA 612 class will be working on developing a mobile app that works to raise awareness of the organization, get general information to and from people about orchard trees in their neighborhood, and support education and stewardship programs. The IDIA 712 class was taking a bigger view of the problems and looking at designing a lifestyle-based app that incorpoorates the mission of BOP with daily activities, GIS-based designs (maps, orchards, etc), and place making technologies to encourage the third place at the orchard sites.
It's a really exciting semester for us and I appreciate BOP's involvement. We'll have mid-semester design briefings for our client as well as an end-of-semester program where we'll present the ideas to BOP.