Is it a Problem?

Is it a problem?

Lecture outline

In this week's lecture we will be introducing the course structure and discussing when and where design is useful. Full lecture slides will be available the day of the lecture.

Is it a Problem?

A welcome to IAT-438

Close All Laptops


Please do bring them as we will occassionally have things to do online, but they must be closed when we are talking.

Andrew Hawryshkewich


Reachable at:

  • Office hours — Tuesdays from 2:30-3:20pm and Thursdays from 9:30-10:20am at the Surrey campus mezzanine.
  • ac.ufs@h_werdna
  • Room 2816, Podium 2, SFU Surrey

Stanley Lai

Teaching Assistant

Reachable at:

  • Office hours — By appointment only between 12:00-2:00pm on Fridays at the Surrey campus mezzanine.
  • ac.ufs@ial_yelnats

Email Rules

What you must include

Requirements for response:

  1. Your full name.
  2. The course number (IAT-438).
  3. Your student number.
  4. A clearly articulated question.

Warning: No email crits

It is unfair for both us and yourself if we begin to offer the option of providing critiques via email. If you are looking for feedback on some work, please visit office hours or arrange a meeting to do so.


Our course-site

Should you encounter any issues, or have any questions, please feel free to ask.

SFU Course Outline

Let's take a quick look at the IAT-438 course outline.

Learning Outcomes
Course Schedule

Responsive Course Design

While Stanley and I will try to bring as well-structured, defined, and fair course as possible, we will also invite feedback on course materials such as projects and rubrics in-lecture.

Please consider items as 'responsive' until the end of the lecture they are introduced in.


Lectures are going to focus on improving your practice, reflecting, and critique. Time in between — approximately 6-9 hours per week — should be focused on projects.

Taking Notes

If you have not gotten in the habit of taking notes, I highly recommend starting. My lecture slides will not reiterate what I say word-for-


Readings are available entirely digitally. Please bring all readings printed to lecture for us to read and talk about.


aka. 'Exercises'

There will be exercises each week that there is a reading.

All the exercises will be questions requiring you to have completed and reflect on the reading.

20% of your final grade.


They move from practice to 'bestest', three in total:

  1. Practice — 20% (Individual/Group)
  2. Better — 25% (Individual/Group)
  3. Bestest — 35% (Individual/Group)

80% of your final grade.

IAT-438: P1 Practice

Group Work

A quick note

Projects move between individual and group-work as appropriate. As warning in advance, a significant number of your process deliverables are graded separately. Remember, you are responsible for your own work.

Team contracts are also used in this course.


This course has a zero tolerance policy for plagiarism on projects. If you are found presenting work that is not your own or resubmitting old work without notice, you will receive a failing grade on that project. No exceptions.

Late or Problematic Submissions

Late submissions receive 10% per day late.

Problematic submissions — i.e. we can't open the PDF or the wrong files were submitted — receive an immediate 30% off plus late penalties on the resubmission.

All Courses Are Equal

Just a quick, friendly reminder

If you feel you are being overworked by one course in particular, let the instructor know. If you do not feel comfortable talking to the instructor, chat with SIAT advising.

When Serious Issues Arise

Get in touch with Andrew

I am amenable to coming up with agreements, but I have to know that a problem has arisen first. Come and see me if an issue comes up that may seriously impede your ability to work on the course.

Any questions?

Why Read?

Isn't reading dead?

Reading & Markup

To get us started on critical reading, please read through today's reading and highlight the following:

  • Portions of the text that evoke a strong response from you.
  • Portions of the text that you do not understand.

Do not stop to note down why, just highlight and move on.

You have 40 minutes.


Would anyone be up for sharing:

  • A portion of the text that evoked a strong response from you...
  • A portion of the text that you do not understand...

...and why?

Exercise: Critical Reading 101

Critical Reading

Exercise Time

You have 15 minutes to complete the exercise. Please bring to the front once done with your marked-up reading.


Care of Jake Knapp

As part of this course we will will be working with and introduce 'Sprints'. Sprints work best for well defined or scoped problems, and typically consume five consecutive days. For the purposes of the course we will break it up.

Sprints are suggested as 'best' for:

  • Big or high stakes projects
  • Tight timelines
  • When you are stuck

Our Briefs

Not underwear

Working with a selection of the D&AD New Blood Awards Briefs we have context for our first project.


How can Barclays help vulnerable customers with mental health issues manage their money better?


Use the BBC to create a new intersection of physical and data.


Heighten the reading experience for young people with Penguin.

Do these problems sound well defined? Why so or why not?

An illustration of four discovery related activities; gather and explore (divergent), process and focus (convergent)
The double-diamond model of design which moves through discover and define - when problem definition occurs - then develop and deliver

Is it a Problem?

Please form large groups (not teams yet) around each of the project briefs. Read-through the project brief and then in groups of 3-5 discuss and write down the following:

  • What is the client's goal?
  • What is the problem they are trying to solve?

Multiple answers are possible. You have 10 minutes.

Where Are There Gaps?

Make sure to have goal(s) and problem(s) written down, and then discuss and write down:

  • How could this goal go wrong?
  • What could cause this goal to fail?
  • What do know about this problem?
  • What do we not know about this problem?

Multiple answers are possible. You have 10 minutes.


Let's chat about what you have.

What Do We Not Know?

Make sure to have goal(s), problem(s), and gaps written down, and then discuss and write down a list of what experiences or knowledge may answer the gaps.

You have 10 minutes.

An illustration showing four quadrants labelled; known knowns, known unknowns, unknown knowns, unknown unknowns
P1: Practice (This week)

Exploratory Research

The briefs provided do not give us a clear direction. We need to better define the problem for which exploratory research is helpful as it allows us to gather information relevant to defining the problem.

What is Our Question?

Given all the materials you have generated, put together at least three research questions as a group that could be posed.

Exploratory research questions should explore relationships, interactions, effects. For example:

  • What do existing intersections of physical and data look like?
  • How might mental health issues affect money management?
  • What do young people think of reading a book?

You have 10 minutes.

Evaluating Sources

We are going to start off by considering a couple of things when evaluating our research sources:

  • Who: Is this person an expert? What demonstrates they are?
  • What: Is this relevant? Does it seem credible in relation to other sources?
  • When: How recent is this material?

Primary & Secondary Sources

Good research tends to involve both primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources help illustrate individual experiences or perceptions. These may include:

  • Photographs or video footage
  • Interviews or transcripts
  • Statistical data or empirical studies
  • Newspaper articles
  • Social media posts

Secondary sources help describe, summarize, or evaluate knowledge. These may include:

  • Books or magazines
  • Articles or essays
  • Documentaries or podcasts

Any Questions?

P1: Rubric (This week)

Bring to Next Lecture

Please bring a print-out of the next reading Design Thinking is Fundamentally Conservative & Preserves the Status Quo (Iskander, 2018) for us to read.

Contacting Andrew

Your Lecturer

Reachable at:

  • Office hours — Tuesdays from 2:30-3:20pm and Thursdays from 9:30-10:20am at the Surrey campus mezzanine.
  • ac.ufs@h_werdna