CMU School of Drama

Friday, September 30, 2016

Concept Mapping for Designers of the Future

Cooper Journal: Recently, Cooper and the Speculative Futures group teamed up to conduct a joint workshop introducing designers to Concept Mapping Together, a collaboration protocol based on the work of Joseph D. Novak (see The Origin and Development of Concept Maps) and his fellow cognitive and educational researchers. The protocol is an adaptation of their methods oriented to design facilitation practice. Cooperista Kaycee Collins, Phil Balagtas, and I led the workshop with ten expert design facilitators to teach attendees the protocol and explore it’s powerful application to futures design.

7 comments:

Natalia Kian said...

We. Need. More. Of. This. In. THEATRE! Especially in design and production. After taking a look at conceptmappingtogether.com I have begun to realize just how much extra time and effort it takes to get working in the right direction on a group project or production when everyone is not on the same page. Concept Mapping, from what I can gather, is an adaptive model for visually communicating the collective ideas and thoughts of a group of people. It is meant to transcend time, technological development, language barriers and project classifications and focus solely on the understanding of the topic at hand. I have been noticing in all the group project we sophomores have been working on lately that the greatest time suck is when everyone is thinking the same thing but can't express it in one succinct way. I recently referred to this in a meeting as all the members in our group being "on the same page of a book in a different translation." What concept mapping could have done in this situation is to help my group and me start using the same vocabulary. I hope to learn more about this method so that I can utilize it in the future, and hopefully by doing so achieve the discovery of bigger and better ideas without getting stuck on communicating them.

Chris Norville said...

I like the bit in the article where they describe the concept mapping as similar to the exploded view of a machine that an engineer would draw. This is really appealing to me as someone that draws exploded views of machines. Many of the problems and inefficiencies I see on a daily basis, here in the school of drama and in the large world, I think arise from a lack of understanding of the larger system at work. I want to understand the system I exist and work in, so that I can do more and do it better. I don’t wan to be the person that says fuck the system, and then is unproductive because they think they are sticking it to the man. I want to say fuck the system, and build my own system. The idea exploded view concept map is a useful tool to forward that I think.

Tahirah Agbamuche said...

As a busy college student, anything I see about organization piques my interest. I find any new organization technique equally as important as my class content because as a potential designer, I'm anticipating needed these skills on the job. I really liked the fact that video talks to different designers and their experience with concept mapping, as well as their definition giving us multiple perspectives. As a visual learner, I definitely think this would be beneficial to me.

Emma Reichard said...

The standard brainstorming process I use involves writing down every word that comes to mind on a subject for several minutes. The end result is usually a jumbled mess of seemingly unrelated words, and a mad scramble to string them together into a cohesive idea. Concept mapping seems like a reliable and efficient way to take whatever your brain spits out, and make sense of it. Being able to visualize the interconnected relationships that comprise a single concept is vital to understanding not only its function, but its potential. The linking words seem incredibly important to the process. When the example of ‘Apples are red’ was presented, I took that at face value to be correct. But later on, when green and yellow apples were introduced and ‘are’ changed to ‘can be’, I really understood the importance of one or two small words in the creative process. By changing something as simple as ‘are’ to ‘can be’, you go from pigeonholing yourself into allowing room for every opportunity. This process of concept mapping seems incredibly helpful, and is something I’m definitely going to try in the future.

John Yoerger said...

This is an interesting technique. I think one way this could contextually be applied to theatre is if you asked the dramaturgical question "Why this play now?" to the entire production team and then worked to answer the question to develop a foundational concept. In doing so, every designer would have the opportunity to have their voice heard and this contributes to the collaborative process making the work bigger than just one vision. Because everyone has a different culture, or groupings of experiences that make them who they are, it is imperative that more people have the opportunity to contribute to the development of a theatrical work and I think concept mapping would be an appropriate process to use to achieve such a goal. Additionally, I could see concept mapping as a very useful tool for actors. "Why does this happen?, "Why is this character doing this?," or "What do I want?" would be good questions to concept map as you could unhinge new things about the work while collaborating with others to dive deeper into the script.

Kat Landry said...

Okay, so, initially I didn't see much value in this (and I'm still not totally sold), just because it seems like a very long-winded way to say "The apple is red" or "Email is to communicate." Um, okay? Sounds good. After reading some of my colleagues comments, I can absolutely see where the value is in determining those connecting words. Lately we've been working a lot on developing an experience design Playground piece, and the brainstorming sessions have been exciting, but inconclusive. I wonder if having some form of connecting words would help us take the long lists of topics and tools, etc. and turn them into strong ideas. So far what we've found is basically a long list of key words that appeal to us, but no way to tie them together and create one whole thing. Perhaps that is the next brainstorming meeting we have: taking the words that appeal to us and figuring out how they tie together.

Daniel Silverman said...

I’m still not sure I fully understand the idea behind the concept map. I’m not sure how or where this relates to design in the theater. I can see where this idea might be helpful in something like season planning where you are looking at a very broad product. It also seems like the concept mapping lends itself more towards forming ideas as groups rather than individuals. The concept mapping process is an offshoot of brainstorming with a specific name and strategy. While I don’t quite understand it, I think it could be useful, especially if someone were to lead me through the process. Then again, with everything going more and more digital this is a great way to get people up and off the computer. I’ve learned in TD3 that a lot of times technology isn’t always the best place to start. While this isn’t a typical situation, I think this will help a lot of people flesh out ideas.

Pics from CMU Drama