Final Reflection

Arjun’s Final Reflection

And that’s a wrap! I can’t believe the quarter is already over, it feels like it was just yesterday when my teammates and I were all huddled around a table, voting with emojis on what problem we wanted to work on for the quarter. 


One thing I’ll certainly take away from the class is the value of drawing out your ideas, and the practice of sketchnoting. This is my first 247 class, and honestly, I was skeptical of sketchnoting at first. I thought it was going to turn into a situation where I take notes like I normally do first, and then spend hours afterwards drawing it out. Instead, I took the advice of the sketchnotes book that we were asked to read, and tried sketchnoting as I was taking notes. And that was honestly a game changer. I’m someone who’s looked into tons and tons of ways of taking notes. ROAM and Obsidian, Backlinks notes, the concept of a 2nd Brain, Zettelkasten, I’ve read through and tried more note taking systems than I can count. All for the same goal – to help me remember the big ideas of what I learn. Part of my note taking process is to review what I remember / learned out of every class I took in a quarter, and I did the same for 247. And surprise surprise, what I remembered was highly correlated with what I sketchnoted. Sketchnotes are certainly something I’ll try to do more often – maybe not for every domain (i.e Math sketchnotes might be tougher than Design or Education sketchnotes), but definitely more often. They’re also a great way to refer back to your notes! I’m a big fan of learning where you actually generate something – it requires way more synthesis and evaluation work than simply regurgitating what you already learned.  And sketchnotes are a great way to integrate synthesis directly into the notetaking process – I’m actually interested in the GSE’s take on sketchnotes as a learning tool. 


Another takeaway from the class for me is the expansion of my ability to think in systems. Last quarter, I bought a book on Mental Models, and absolutely loved it. This idea of having mental “coat hangers”, and when you learn something new, you’re simply “hanging it” on one of those coat hangers, putting it on something you already new, or integrating that new piece of knowledge with a previous mental framework. A big part of this is assembling those initial coat hangers though. And while that book and my own research have helped me create coat hangers for life and life decisions, I was excited to learn about mental models for design and creating products. And the class definitely didn’t fail to deliver. From Bubble Maps to the Path diagrams, I really enjoyed both learning these models and putting them into practice. Personally, I think the Bubble Map, the 2×2, and the Connection Circle are the systems that stuck with me the most, and are the ones I’ll be using the next time I design something. 


On the Ethics side, I absolutely loved the discussions of the readings, especially when we began grouping with other tables to share what we’d learned. These lead to more than a few passionate conversations. My favorite revolved around the discussions of who should be designing for a problem, and who should they be designing for? Obviously these are questions with no perfect answer, but my takeaways were that a) participatory design is the most practical way to go (it allows for diverse perspectives in the design process, while also allowing designers not in the problem space to contribute their skills to the design process), and b) designing for the extreme user. The example of the Air Force designing for the hypothetical “average pilot” is one I’d heard before, but when connected to the design of tech products, it’s a powerful analogy. By designing for those at the extremes, you’ll naturally account for those in the middle. (Actually, a great example of this is NASA’s new suits for the Artemis Moon missions – they’re much more inclusive than the Apollo suits, and showcase this idea perfectly.) 


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