The integration of open source design and fablab [practices] into Interaction Design Education

Cangiano, Serena and Fornari, Davide and Botta, Massimo (2013) The integration of open source design and fablab [practices] into Interaction Design Education. In: 9th International Fablab Conference, 21-27 July 2013, Yokohama.

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Practices related to open source hardware and software, open design, and digital fabrication are increasingly affecting the way things are designed and produced. These issues are having an impact on the way technology-driven innovation is generated, and in particular on the process of designing innovative products and services, which designers and prospective designers are not completely aware of. Within this process, community-driven platforms and spaces dedicated to electronic prototyping and digital fabrication have a main role: they offer the information and tools for implementing physical and interactive objects and they become the new libraries for making. In the context of interaction design education the combination of these libraries play a pivotal role in the teaching and learning process. Students access open source tools and knowledge while using digital fabrication machine to develop the design of the artifacts. In our experience as interaction designers and educators in the field of interaction design, one of the main sources of efficiency in education was the integration of a fablab into the infrastructures of our Master of Advanced Studies. Furthermore, the urge for physical prototyping, based on the use of open source hardware and software platforms, brings our students in contact with the issues connected with intellectual property (IP). Even though Swiss jurisdiction on IP allows for reproductions and copies within the educational environment without copyright infringement, we envision a system in which students and teachers focus on the use of Creative Commons licenses and make the results of their interaction design activity available in the same way they can profit of the open knowledge approach of the open source communities, namely those connected with design and technology. The goal is to experiment the implementation of the open source approach and the fablab format into a European academic curriculum. The aim of our paper is to present the integration of these elements in the design process from a methodological viewpoint, focusing also on by-products such as how to return the knowledge produced in design schools to the open knowledge and open source community. The paper addresses several and more general challenges such as: the use of Creative Commons license within universities, the requirements for an expanded documentation of interactive prototypes (text, code, licenses, images, video, audio, sketches), open interfaces and tools for accessing these resources.

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