For the second class, we had a guest professor from Cornell Tech: Dr. Marc Brudzinski. The focus of the class was to “listen with your eyes”. He organized three activities:
- For this class, we were asked to bring photographs of things we carry everyday, spaces or things that we care about, and something that makes us happy. During the class professor asked us to stick those pictures on the wall. Then your team members would try to guess what those pictures mean; basically try to understand people through their interests, habits and things they value. One person said that his team members were able to point out certain things about him that were true but he never himself has consciously thought about it. I think this activity was a great exercise to use your vision to interpret things and you will be surprised how much you can guess correctly because picture speaks a thousand words.
- For the second activity, the professor first showed us a hack that someone has put in a park to create a sitting place. It was a park, but did not have any place to sit. Using that as an example, the professor then asked us to go outside the classroom and look around the University for any hacks or workarounds that people have created or anything that you find interesting such as people using a rock as a sitting platform near a water stream, a painting to cover up a broken window or a chain fence to lock a bicycle. We took the pictures of all such things and emailed to professor. We all came back after 20 minutes and went through the pictures that teams have sent to the professor. We tried to interpret what people were trying to achieve in those pictures. I think I idea behind the exercise was to pay attention to the way people interact with their environment because many times they do not explicitly say what their paint points are, but you could discover an important problem through your observations and find a great opportunity to create products and solutions.
- The third activity was to learn how to interview someone. The professor first showed us an example of a bad way and a good way to do an interview using a mock interview with one of the student. As part of the activity, we were supposed to go outside the class and find someone who has used Airbnb. In the process have one person ask questions, another take notes and others observe the body language of the person being interviewed to get subtle understanding of the person feelings when they booked and stayed at an Airbnb listing. He said the interview should be like a conversation, where the other person feel comfortable in sharing his or her experience. The questions should be open-ended and not the ones that have “yes” or “no” answer. A great way to interview is to ask the person to recall the last time they used Airbnb and what their experience was like. Then ask questions with an intrigue to show that you are interested in learning more.The professor shared an important thing about whom should we select to interview. He said usually the people who are on the extreme ends provide good insight; I mean person who either had a great experience or a horrible one. Finally, everybody went with their teams and interviewed an Airbnb guest. It took us some time to find a person who has used Airbnb. I was surprised not many students have used Airbnb or may be I was unlucky that day. We managed to find someone when only 10 minutes were left before we were supposed to be back in class. But we were able to ask questions and learn about her experience using the methodologies that professor shared in class.
Overall, it was a very useful class and I very much enjoyed learning by doing.