DM-UY 1143 Ideation and Prototyping


Integrated Digital Media • Technology, Culture & Society Department

Arlene Ducao • [email protected] • Spring 2018 
Fridays • 11:00AM-2:40PM • 2MTC MAGNET 820 • 3 credit hrs

Office hours by appointment (e-mail the instructor) or directly after class. Remote office hours (via Skype or Google Hangouts) are an option.

Gitbook Repository:

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious."

~Albert Einstein

Welcome to Ideation & Prototyping!

In this class, the creative process will be investigated in order to generate ideas for art, design, technology, and business endeavors. The course will show how ideation, design research & thinking, and prototyping can inspire, inform, and bring depth to what one ultimately creates. Students will expand their arsenal of design research skills, learn how to think critically about their audience, content, form, and processes, as well as, understand the importance of utilizing more than one research and design strategy.

Prerequisite: None


The following Integrated Digital Media program goals are introduced and reinforced within this course. Students will:

  • develop conceptual thinking skills to generate ideas and content in order to solve problems or create opportunities.
  • develop a research and studio practice through inquiry and iteration.
  • develop critical thinking skills that will allow them to analyze and position their work within cultural, historical, aesthetic, economic, and technological contexts.
  • develop collaboration skills to actively and effectively work in a team or group.


To get students to:

  • develop a rigorous, iterative process for looking, questioning, thinking, making, and communicating that challenges assumptions and preconceived ideas
  • use their imagination to create something entirely new & innovative OR to reinvent an old idea into something new
  • introduce students to the many research & design methodologies available to them
  • develop skills of description, research, analysis, visualization, design and critical thinking.
  • improve writing, documentation, and presentation skills
  • facilitate collaboration


By the end of this course students should be able to:

  • to search and spot ideas, and transform these invisible ideas into visible realizations


The course will be comprised of lectures, critiques, discussions, readings, screenings, exercises, projects, and a collaborative research paper.

Critiques are the best way to articulate your ideas to others and get immediate feedback. The class analyzes and suggests ways to increase the impact of your project. Take notes when your work is being critiqued and do not edit the responses, whether you agree with them or not. Review your critique notes and reflect upon what was said. Ask yourself how you could combine, transform, or expand what you are doing to make your project better. However, resist the temptation to incorporate all suggestions and comments. Only utilize the ones that work for you and your project.

Rules of the Critique:

  • Be Present and Engaged
  • Give Feedback to your classmates
  • Do NOT take feedback personally.

There will be discrete team and individual exercises and projects that require you to apply the tools, techniques, and methods presented in the lectures, discussions, readings, and other material. These fundamentals are organized according to five phases:

Phase 1: Discovery / Inspiration

  • Seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, feeling
  • Collecting, obsessing, hoarding
  • Reappropriating, remixing

Phase 2: Research / Ideation / Brainstorming

  • Asking and listening
  • Visual researching
  • Materials researching
  • User / audience researching and ethnographic researching
  • Systems researching
  • Activity researching
  • Primary researching
  • Scholarly researching
  • Brainstorming, gamestorming, ideation

Phase 3: Design / Sketching / Mapping

  • Visualizing, drawing, sketching
  • Planning and mapping
  • Grouping, clustering, comparing, contrasting
  • Organizing and designing
  • Reorganizing and redesigning
  • Shaping and forming
  • Discerning and revealing
  • Connecting and disconnecting

Phase 4: Prototyping

  • Making, building, creating
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Iterating
  • Selecting and editing
  • Breaking then repeating all of the above

Phase 5: Positioning / Pitching

  • Framing and positioning
  • Storytelling, engaging, communicating, selling

Students will conduct self assessments as well as be evaluated by the professor during or after midterm and at the end of the semester. Any action without reflection is meaningless. Real learning only occurs as part of a reflective process. Reflection is studying your own practice as seriously as you study anything. It involves thinking about why, what, and how you create something.


  • Schedule your time (keep a calendar of some sort)
  • Come to class on time and participate (be present and engaged)
  • Study outside of class (ideally with classmate(s)
  • Devote at a minimum 4 to 8 hours per week outside of class, fulfilling homework assignments, reading, and studying concepts covered in class.
  • Consult email for up to date info
  • Complete all assignments by due dates
  • Acquire and read all assigned readings before they are due
  • Action – do your absolute best
  • Strive for continuous improvement
  • Email re: contact about logistics (when, where, how many?) only
  • Talk to me in person about issues and problems. Do not email me long conversations. (if your email turns into a paragraph or two that means you should be talking to me in person, not emailing me.)
  • Have desire amounting to enthusiasm (to learn, to explore)
  • Have patience, persistence, and discipline
  • Be creative
  • Pay attention to detail & craft
  • Have self-confidence and pride in your work
  • Take risks & be fearless in your projects
  • Have fun!


  • Attendance is mandatory and will be taken at the beginning of every class. Since there is so much technical, conceptual, and design information to absorb, regular attendance is essential.
  • Unexcused absences will affect your grade. One absence is allowed; after that, your final, overall, numerical grade will drop by 5 percent (1/2 a grade point (e.g. A to an A-)) for each additional absence.
  • Be on Time. Partial absence (tardiness or leaving early) will affect your grade. For every 15 minutes of class missed, your final, numerical grade will drop by 0.625 percent.
  • For an absence or lateness to be excused, you must provide official documentation to justify the lateness (e.g. from your doctor, from the MTA for a train delay, etc).
  • Contact the professor IN ADVANCE if you will not be in class (in person is preferred).
  • Attendance is mandatory for the midterm and final presentations / critiques.

Your final grade will be based on a synthesis of quantitative & qualitative rubrics:

  • Makeup assignments are only available when discussed with and approved by the instructor in advance of the due date.
  • Each student will be judged on the commitment, fearlessness, and continuous improvement that their work shows. Incomplete or unsatisfactory work will receive a failing grade.
  • Lateness: For every week an assignment is late, I will subtract 5 points out of 100 as the highest possible grade. This will be enforced starting on February 2 (for assignments due Feb 9).
Quantitative Grading Overview
Qualitative Grading Overview
A. Excellent (90-100: Work of exceptional quality; Exceeds Expectations)

Performance, participation, and attendance of the student has been of the highest level, showing sustained excellence in meeting course responsibilities. Work clearly differentiates itself from other work, has memorable impact, pursues concepts and techniques above and beyond what is discussed in class. The student thoroughly understands the theory and practice behind ideation & prototyping.

B. Very Good / Good (80-89: Work of high quality)

Performance, participation, and attendance of the student has been good, though not of the highest level. Work demonstrates a better than average understanding of ideation & prototyping theory & practice.

C. Satisfactory (70-79: Average; Satisfies course requirements)

Performance and attendance of the student has been adequate, satisfactorily meeting the course requirements. Work is average and competent, showing a basic understanding of ideation & prototyping theory & practice.

D. Poor; Below Average (60-69: Deficient, but passing)

Performance and attendance of the student has been less than adequate. Work is lacking in many or most areas that show any understanding of ideation & prototyping. Problems may include lack of interest, procrastination, poor planning and poor craft.

F. Unacceptable (59 & Below: Failing Course Requirements)

Performance and attendance of the student has been such that course requirements have not been met. Work shows no overall understanding of the course material on many levels or either a severe lack of interest.


Laptop computers and other mobile devices are invaluable tools for artists, designers, and students when used responsibly. However, this technology can also be incredibly distracting, especially in the classroom. When in class, you may use your laptops and other devices for any activities pertaining to the course: taking notes, researching material relevant to our readings and discussions, doing VFS homework, making class presentations, etc. However, the following uses are unacceptable: checking email, instant messaging, texting, using social networking sites such as facebook, etc. Also, during class screenings and class presentations, your laptops should not be used.


All work for this class must be your own and specific to this semester. Any work recycled from other classes or from another, non-original source will be rejected with serious implications for the student. Plagiarism, knowingly representing the words or ideas of another as one’s own work in any academic exercise, is absolutely unacceptable. Any student who commits plagiarism must re-do the assignment for a grade no higher than a D. In fact, a D is the highest possible course grade for any student who commits plagiarism. Please use the MLA style for citing and documenting source material.


If you are student with a disability who is requesting accommodations, please contact New York University’s Moses Center for Students with Disabilities at 212-998-4980 or [email protected]. You must be registered with CSD to receive accommodations. Information about the Moses Center can be found at The Moses Center is located at 726 Broadway on the 2nd floor.


  • A Notebook or Sketchbook (Analog or Digital (i.e. Evernote, Paper by FiftyThree, etc.))
  • Digital Camera (You can also use a smartphone.)
  • Digital Storage (Thumb Drives or External Hard Drive, Laptop, etc)


The following list of required readings may be incomplete and is subject to change. Please see the course website for updates.


The following list of required media may be incomplete and is subject to change. Please see the course website for updates.

See Appendix


All due dates can be found in the calendar. This is just an overview and description of all the projects for the course. Please name ALL files as firstnameinitiallastname_i&p_fa17_assignmentname (i.e. dduff_i&p_fa17_assignmentname.pdf)




See Appendix

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