Graduate Research Project at OSU Department of Design
Darwin M / Caroline W / Abel H / Tally Wolff
Adobe Creative Suite / Maketools
Type-1 Diabetes (T1D) is a chronic illness that accounts for between 5% and 10% of all diabetes cases. It often is first diagnosed in childhood and it is estimated that about 80,000 children develop the disease each year. In this project, we brought in people living with Type 1 Diabetes and relevant stakeholders to co-design with us.
As part of our experience to build empathy and better understand the experience of living with T1D, all members of our group immersed ourselves in either measured blood glucose levels with a meter, wore a continuous glucose monitor, or wore an insulin pump (Medtronic & AccuChek) for at least 1 week, which we would then journal throughout the week to document our experience.
The stakeholders for our project include people with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) and people within the secondary circle of care , which we describe as “the community.” This group includes classmates in school, teachers, coaches, school nurses, coworkers, employers, and the general public. For the first several weeks, we focused on learning about Type 1 Diabetes. We then conducted 3 different types of interviews with stakeholders to better understand the experience of living with T1D and common issues that occur. We decided to focus on education about T1D as the primary topic for our final workshop because we realized that a majority of these issues and negative experiences occurred because community members lacked knowledge about T1D.
Working from a Socioecological framework, we discovered the importance of fostering a culture around T1D. To establish a culture, there are two main components in play: Message and Environment. On the one hand, the function of the message is to create awareness in order to affect the environment that supports T1D. On the other hand, good policies from the environment are necessary to provide a platform and support for the message to be be heard in order to create awareness. It is this paradox that led us to focus on education as the ground to spread both the awareness and policy not only inwards to the individuals and close groups (parents & friends), but also outwards to the state and federal level where cultural awareness would influence policy.
From here, we created 2 activities the first for envisioning the ideal experience for T1D students in a middle school, and the second for creating a strategy for how to implement this vision and spread awareness and knowledge about T1D. We decided on the environment of a middle school because we believed it covered a majority of issues described in elementary and high school as well as transition periods in between.
From the generative research session with the participants, we looked at their ideas and synthesized them with the underlying principle of “fostering a culture in which the message influences the environment, and the environment supports the message.” We created a framework based on three general categories: Knowledge, Experience, and Communication. The three categories influence each other. Knowledge improves Experience and contributes to the content of Communication, Communication improves Experience and informs Knowledge, and in turns, Experience contributes to Communication and enriches Knowledge.
While the three categories feed off of each other, we started from Knowledge as a catalyst for change. One of the recurring ideas from our co-designers (or participants) is incorporating the issue of T1D into school curriculum, i.e. making classroom be relevant to the real world. One of the possible models is to integrate different disciplines into one project ( Figure 18 ), for example Math, Nutrition, and Physical Education where teachers, nurses, and coaches work together to design a project that not only covers the topic of T1D, but also include daily life scenarios so that students and teachers alike would discover experiences that they cannot obtain from textbooks.
Finally, we wanted to create a journey map that depicts the ideal experience of a T1D student throughout a school day based on the framework we established. By mapping the envisioned journey of a future T1D student, we got a better understanding of what they might be “feeling, thinking, and doing at any given point in time when they are interacting with the school system. The journey map begins with the ‘Guiding Principles’, which is the foundation of what the future school department system could be built on.
The three principles include: foster and build a culture where the message could influence the environment and vice versa, create policies to improve the educational experience of T1D’s, and continue to use technology as a tool to spread information and increase T1D literacy. The three guiding principles help shape the journey of the student, as the policy, technological element, and experience help create a more informed community that is knowledgeable about many elements of T1D. With a more informed community, the data (blood glucose levels) of the T1D student is seamlessly synced between caretakers to make sure they are up to date on blood levels.
The success of our journey map is based on three factor: 1) all caretakers are properly T1D trained and in sync with the data provided to them, 2) the student’s stress level is minimized (because of policy changes and a more knowledgeable culture), and 3) their blood glucose levels are average in order to ensure a healthy life where they are not excluded from school activities.