Fieldwork for Human Computer Interaction: A 4-Part Workshop on Ethnographically-Informed Fieldwork
October 5, 2014
Sara Bly and Françoise Brun-Cottan
A growing number of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) researchers and practitioners use the results of fieldwork to guide the design and evaluate the user experience of interactive systems and technologies. Why? Because data about real people in real situations spurs creativity and innovation around practical challenges, resulting in more useful and usable artifacts.
Fieldwork for HCI typically consists of firsthand observations made in the naturally occurring environment of use (as opposed to studies performed in a controlled environment). Many techniques are adapted from anthropology – particularly ethnography.
As the mobile app and manufacturing industries grow in Oregon, UX designers are increasingly recruited from out-of-state. The Computer-Human Interaction Forum of Oregon – CHIFOO – recognizes a local need for more basic training in this area.
This practicum is a new offering by CHIFOO, separate from the popular monthly guest lecture series. Developed with industry experts Sara Bly and Françoise Brun-Cottan, this unique pilot program serves as a first test model for future educational programs by CHIFOO.
To conduct fieldwork well, the researcher needs the knowledge, ability and access to observe the activities and complexities of people within the context of their day-to-day pursuits. This makes it difficult to practice in a classroom-only or online environment. The methodology is best learned by apprenticeship and experience.
Each session builds on the prior one. Participants are expected to attend three private classroom sessions, to complete group assignments in between, and to ‘report out’ on the experience in teams at the last session, an open CHIFOO event. Sessions will be held:
- Sunday, October 5, 12-4 pm
- Wednesday, October 15 6-9 pm
- Wednesday, October 29, 6-9 pm
- Wednesday, November 12, 6-9 pm
Who Should Participate?
The practicum is tailored especially towards locals who seek a better command and understanding of the skills utilized by User Experience Analysts, Design Engineers, and Interaction Designers.
To make the learning experience as rich, collaborative and personalized as possible, the # of participants is capped at 16. Group exercises are designed to be completed in teams of 2-4.
About the Instructors
Dr. Sara Bly – Head Instructor – Sara Bly has been an active researcher and practitioner in qualitative user studies for more than 25 years. Ethnographically-informed fieldwork is a major component of her user experience studies, which focus on understanding the context of an activity as well as the specific user task. During Sara’s tenure at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, she served on multi-disciplinary teams with anthropologists, designers, and computer scientists. Sara has worked in a variety of companies and development teams, and has experience teaching user study techniques for both industry and academia. She holds a PhD in Computer Science from University of California, Davis. Currently Sara Bly lives in Oregon and consults nationally.
Francoise Brun-Cottan, Phd – Instructor – Anthropologist Francoise Brun-Cottan spent over a decade as a Work Place Ethnographer and Interaction Analyst with Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). Specialties include:
- Integration of ethnographic insights with engineering research, product/services development and design to inform innovation.
- Ethnography – Observation and interviewing, analysis and representations of work practices and user experience.
- Conversation and Interaction Analysis
- Work Practice and Participatory Design Studies.
Currently Francoise Brun-Cottan consults for libraries, government agencies, large corporations and research agencies.
Clodine Mallinckrodt – Facilitator – From Wall Street to MarCom Way, Clodine Mallinckrodt’s varied background spans the early days of interactive multimedia and distance learning to data security and strategy consulting. Currently, Clodine is Manager of Ambulatory Reporting & Analytics for Providence Health & Services, where she enjoys enabling analyst teams to deliver data visualization and exploration tools to healthcare executives throughout the west. She helped develop new Providence Consumer Segments, is a GE-certified Change Facilitator, and trained in Lean. Based in Portland, OR, Clodine Mallinckrodt is Program Co-Chair for CHIFOO.