Modules & Organization


This course will introduce students to responsive mobile environments and encourages them to explore speculative terrains that intersect art, technology and design and space. Iteratively, introducing students to the idea of responsive mobile environments, the first half of the semester will tour facets of connected devices and intelligent spaces through readings, applied explorations and guest lectures. The second half of the semester will be organized as an applied, open-ended, collaborative project.


Exploration (10 weeks)

  • Introductions: Lays the foundations for the course. Mini-assignments will be used to: interview (course) participants, identify constraints, open questions, challenges, and assumptions and find opportunities for investigation.

  • Investigations: A series of small collaborative exercises that build towards a bigger vision. The format is 3-week rapid explorations of a theme, idea or theory.

  • Fusion/Reflection: Develops a single shared brief for a scale prototype. A week of reflection where the class as a whole will review design explorations and synthesize a common vision for a large collaborative prototype.

Application (5 weeks)

In the second half of the semester, teams will work together to identify a prospective idea for a speculative, critically-informed responsive mobile environment, prepare a working prototype, and deliver supporting process and outcome documentation.

All students will work on a shared topic or agenda and subdivide into groups based on skill, interest and needs. Collectively the students will realize a series of integrated components that prepare a interactive, connected and thought-provoking solution.

For the outcome students will prepare:

  • a design from low-fidelity sketches to high-fidelity prototype
  • a proposal and project plan;
  • a demonstration of their idea (a working prototype);
  • a conceptual explaination for their design (concept video);
  • and a well-illustrated documentation explaining the outcome;

For this phase, students will work in collaborative teams and will be tasked with weekly deliverables towards a well-realized prototype. In-class times will be used to facilitate instructor feedback, critique sessions and group meetings. Critiques with external guests will also be scheduled as a mid-point and final review of outcomes.


The course will largely take a design-build approach. Students will be expected to prepare three main outcomes regularly.

Within each Investigation, we’ll engage in a range of small activities to creative explore terrains and topics. These will include:

  • Case Studies - Students will uncover interesting precedent projects, labs, spaces, sites that are directly related to a creative project and the themes of the module. Students will synthesize and share a short report on these discoveries with the class.

  • Think Pieces - Students will prepare five short essays that provide thought-provoking perspective on topics related to the course. Students will independently research, review and synthesize literature, theories, research and concepts from the field into a 750-word statement that demonstrates thinking, raises questions and shares a critical and insightful perspective with their peers.

  • Project Logs - Within each investigations, students will prepare a short weekly update of their journeys with technical experiments, project exploration, and critcal making. The post will share what they have made, what they discovered through the act of making, and illustrate their work with photos, code, videos, etc.

  • Creative Explorations - During investigations, we’ll use creative experiments to try out ideas in low-stakes practices. These will range from quick design mock ups through to conducting home tours and interviews or engaging in out-of-class experiences that build first-hand knowledge of our topics.

Major deliverables will be

  • Investigation Projects - Students will develop an experiential prototype or speculative design based on ideas introduced in the course. The prototype should be accompanied by clear documentation that describes to include realization, implementation (code, design files), context (explanation, rationale, precedents and background), and concept (vision video, goals, objectives, etc.).

  • Final Project - Students will collaboratively realize a conceptual design, techical and experiential prototypes and supporting materials for a near-future scenario. Deliverables will include a concept video, documentation, a prototype, code and supporting design files.

  • Oral Presentation and Demonstration: - Both the investigations and application projects will culminate in a critique, which may include invited guests. Outcomes from creative project will be presented and demonstrated to peers, instructor, and invited guests. Students should prepare supporting documentation, slides and a narrative for their demonstration to showcase their ideas and exploration.

Tools and Technology

As part of the course, we’ll use a few digital tools to help keep track of goings on, ideas, outcomes and process.

The IDeATe Gallery: All assignments will be documented and shared through the IDeATe gallery. It’s an online documentation platform where students from across IDeATe programs will present and share their work. It’s designed as a flexible and supportive tool for your work and specifically designed for the IDeATe program. Read more on using the Gallery.

Slack: We’ve created a Slack to give the course community an easy way to connect and communicate. Slack is a fun new platform for group conversations in open channels. Use the course slack to share ideas, post open challenges, or items that need exploration, share projects, papers or research you encounter, and discuss next steps. Read more on using the course Slack.