Design Principles

My design builds from museum research as well as the findings from my observations, interviews and analysis of learning materials. Drawing from the APE and FLP research studies, I follow noted key features necessary for an effective learning experience. Specifically from the Family Learning Project : the exhibit should allow the group to cluster around multiple sides and support interaction from several people at once. The exhibit should be usable by all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and knowledge levels. The text should be readable and organized, and, since I am trying to motivate patients about issues personal to them, the material should be relevant to the users’ existing knowledge and experience \cite{FLP}. Some key implications from my findings are discussed below.

1. Collaborative

There is a requirement that all patients under the age of 18 attend appointments with an adult. Yet, with an average family group size over two, it implies that many patients are attending their appointments with additional family members such as second parents, siblings, or grandparents. This presents an opportunity for collaboration between and within patient groups that share an interest and potential motivation to learn. Moreover, our observations revealed that people, both children and adults, in waiting areas interact with one another as they wait. This could provide an opportunity for knowledge exchange and supporting discussions between children and adults.

2. Engaging

Typical health education materials are neglected or not memorable, nor are they targeted at younger users; for our research it is important that our design engages patient groups, especially children. The primary goal of this project is not just to attract people as they wait for appointments, but, more importantly, help them to understand relevant health issues. Ideally education materials will keep people’s attention and provide opportunities for discussion.

3. Reusability

In many cases, patients visit the same clinic repeatedly throughout their life for routine checkups. In the sickle cell community repeated visits are very common. Since these patients will be waiting frequently it is important that the material provide multiple opportunities for exploration over the course of months and years. The materials need to draw patients in to explore even after they have been used in multiple prior visits. They should be able to use it in different and engaging ways with every visit.

4. Mobile Devices

Another potential aspect of design comes from the prominence of mobile devices. The majority of SCD patients and families spend most of their waiting time on mobile devices; a mode that is common and easily used to create educational experiences and opportunities for local community building. Having an experience that can travel with them as they continue to their appointment or leave the clinic provides additional opportunities for learning and conversation pieces with physicians and staff, even other patients. Mobile devices also support the patients in clinics where the wait does not occur in the main area. In the Midwest clinic, for example, the patients spend hours in the exam room waiting, but only a short period in the main area.

5. Detailed Biological Explanations

While clinic staff have reported that they do not highlight the biological details of the disease to the patients, they do believe that this information would help with compliance to medications and good health practices. It is difficult for staff to find the time to go into such detail during appointments, so if we can find a way to share that information at any time it may show some benefit. If the material explains the fundamental concept of the disease, then we can further explain why taking medications or other treatments correct or change those issues to improve health; for example, if we detail cell structure in sickle red blood cells and show its resulting effects on the body’s blood flow, we can also detail the effects of medication on that structure and its corrections to the blood flow. Ideally these explanations will help patients understand why they need to adhere to medical routines and result in better overall health.