Design Research and Strategy, Graduate Student at Carnegie Mellon University
inst.png

Education From The Fringe

Makeshift’s transition from a quarterly magazine to a mission-driven organization started with the creation of the Institute, our research and consulting arm. Our first project was the development of a compelling academic product, tailored to the specific needs of emerging academic classwork in developmental and social entrepreneurship.

USER RESEARCH, BRAINSTORMING, PROPOSAL WRITING, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT, SURVEYING

Education From The Fringe


Objective: At the time of this project, Makeshift had published six issues. Our goal was to reorganize and extend the services of our editors, global network of contributors, and design team to client-focused products and services. We worked closely with a few external design coaches to uncover and explore potential offerings.

Interviews: Our design coaches helped us perform six interviews. I complemented the primary research with a survey and market analysis of existing academic products as well as extensive secondary research on online instruction and executive courses. Our combined efforts were detailed and documented.

 Brainstorming business ideas from our stakeholder interviews

Brainstorming business ideas from our stakeholder interviews


Insight: While we proposed an array of potential product and service offerings, our primary differentiator was our unique ability to engage our growing global contributor network to deliver subject matter expertise, finely-tuned story-driven reporting, and relevant photography. Building off this insight, we began to develop our first academic offering, an “instructional magazine.”


 Click to view our grant proposal and project overview

Click to view our grant proposal and project overview

Prototype: Using our existing resources, we prototyped a sample magazine to demonstrate the value of our offering. We shared the prototype with our six interviewees and solicited feedback. We mocked up our ability to commission stories and photography by using our existing dispatches and to provide subject matter expertise with the addition of further reading and questions for discussion.

Setting our sights on realization, we also pursued funding and grants to help produce our pilot project. We were awarded an Ideas That Matter grant from Sappi to deliver an education from the fringe with our first client.

Development: We applied for the Ideas That Matter grant along with Sarah Rottenberg, Associate Director of the Integrated Product Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania. We worked closely with her to understand her plans for the class, the syllabus she had already created, and the resources she planned to use so we could create a product that complemented her instruction.

I developed and wrote the lists of further reading and discussion questions that appeared alongside each dispatch in the instructional magazine with the intention of providing students with the resources needed to guide them through the challenges they would face on their projects. Fun fact: our field guide to hidden creativity tagline was born at this moment.


 An example of a spread in our instructional magazine (content, callouts, discussion questions, and further reading)

An example of a spread in our instructional magazine (content, callouts, discussion questions, and further reading)


  Click to view the entire instructional magazine

Click to view the entire instructional magazine

“It was a big hit!” We successfully delivered an instructional magazine called Appropriate Technology for use in Sarah’s IPD561 graduate-level design course.


Results from our team retrospective

Retrospective: One challenge we identified early on, especially in our interviews with stakeholders, was that the budget to supply classes with materials was often very limited. Therefore, we found it essential to understand the value we delivered to Sarah and her students. I designed a short survey for the students.

I also led a retrospective with Sarah and the team at Makeshift.

While the actual product, the instructional magazine, ended up being too labor intensive and costly to produce, we successfully demonstrated the value of bringing Makeshift into the classroom. Our work with Sarah led us to design and eventually offer Disruptive Design for Makeshift Cities at the School of Visual Arts.


[This] is a compelling take on the course reader—providing vivid articles, discussion supports and resources in a package you would want to keep.
— Jury Comments, 2014 Core77 Design Awards

With: Steve Daniels and Justin Levinson

For: Sarah Rottenberg, Associate Director of the Integrated Product Design Program at the University of Pennsylvania