The Journal of Sonic Studies
Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Daniel Hug; Moritz Kemper: FROM FOLEY TO FUNCTION: A PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH TO SOUND DESIGN FOR NOVEL INTERACTIONS

To refer to this article use this url: http://journal.sonicstudies.org/vol06/nr01/a03

Pedagogical Framework and Implementation in Workshop Setting

One strategy to mitigate these issues is to approach sound not from a technical, but from a "sound studies" perspective, understanding its role and relevance both for the sensory being of the individual as well as on a socio-cultural scale. Second, we need to put the “design” back into “sound design": We need to motivate our students to treat sound as equivalent material of design.

Building on this, and the understanding of the educational challenges described above, we have devised methods that allow students of interaction design to explore and implement interaction design scenarios, using sound from the very beginning, in a dialogical setting. In the following we describe our pedagogical principles and the resulting educational framework.

Pedagogical Principles

The Classroom as Dialogical Research Lab

This point may sound surprising, as it is not directly connected to a teaching outcome, but to a research question. We are "teaching" about artifacts, which may become future products, but are not (yet) part of our everyday live experience. Thus, in these workshops, we co-create the reality about which we teach. The consequence is that these workshops are also part of a general research setting where we investigate the emerging phenomena (see also [Hug 2007] and [Hug 2010a]). More precisely, we investigate the discourse and phenomena occurring in design and interpretation of interactive everyday artifacts that do not exist yet as "real commodities", but are projections of possible futures in the form of prototypes and mockups. Thus, we are trying to contribute to a discourse of sonic studies that deals specifically with an emerging field of (potential) everyday sound experience.

As a consequence, we aim for an exploration of sonic interaction design that is not “expertise driven”, building on what (little) could be known already, but rather, on a setup that enables a dialogical, discursive approach. For this, we need a responsive, flexible design approach, which is able to deal with insights emerging from the interaction process. This process, and by consequence also all tools, have to be open to improvisation and variation, also when used by non-experts. This flexibility is also needed, because we understand the experience of technology as an inherently dynamic, dialogical process (McCarthy and Wright 2004).

Appropriate Scope and Tools for “Non-Sound Designers”

In order to reach our goal, a radical reduction of conceptual and theoretical aspects and the related empirical research is necessary. Auditory display and sonification, and their related design principles, are not discussed in depth, because the goals we aim to reach do not depend on this knowledge, and our approach to education as experimental laboratory works better if a design bias is avoided.[2]

On the other hand, in response to the related pedagogical issue mentioned earlier, there is the need to demystify sound design, as a prerequisite for reducing the inhibitions and increasing self-confidence in students, independent from their background and experience with sound. This is partially achieved by using “quick’n’dirty”[3] low-tech methods that are readily available and do not require extensive practice or experience with technical tools, but offer an access to the richness of a vast, nearly unlimited, range of sonic possibilities as well as the possibility to increase the impact of the design demonstration by practice and experience. Such methods allow for a process that begins with drafting interactive sound experience and gradually works towards a final, technically elaborate, implementation. In so doing, we try to make sure that no compromises on sound design are made.

Maintaining a “Sound” Focus

In order to fulfill the promise of investigating sound in its full potential, it is critical that sound remains at the center of the creative and reflective process. As outlined above, interaction designers usually deal with many different aspects in design; therefore, the methodical framework has to encourage, and sometimes even enforce, a maintained focus on sound.