Study Abroad and Exchanges



TCP2031 : Digital Civics - designing applications for digital public engagement

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


The aims of this module are to introduce students to user-centred design (incl. user research, prototyping, user testing) and development of a digital application prototype. Avoiding a theoretical treatment, students work with a client, e.g. community groups, local governments, charities) on design a prototype of a digital application. Sample projects from the last year include, a platform to support volunteering and skill attainment, a dashboard for an energy cooperative, a digital game to engage young people in master plans, and a public air quality meter. With no coding skills required, on this module you learn to research, design, and propose a prototype the client can implement. In the process, students learn about the design process for a digital application, digital media, entrepreneurship, and what it means to work for a client. These skills are of increasing importance for individuals joining the planning profession.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module combines theory and practice through a series of weekly lectures, practice-focused seminars, and an accompanying client project. Students develop a work relationship with the client assigned by the module leader, and engage in a consultancy project. Lectures and seminars are designed to provide all essential support. Additionally, students are supported by a project mentor with expertise in the area the project is in.

The indicative sequence of lectures includes:
1.       Topic intro and module overview: What is the ‘digital civic’ turn in urban planning?
2.       Intro to user research: Intro of, e.g., contextual interviews and similar simple techniques for requirements gathering with users
3.       Overview of key technologies enabling digital civics: No programing skills are required.
4.       Creativity and tools for the design process: An overview of design thinking and some tools to document insights from user research, such as story boards, and process maps
5.       Feedback session: Teams present initial findings and receive feedback from staff and fellow-students.
6.       Local government and digital technology: A look at IT transformation in local government to enable digital public services.
7.       Civic groups and digital technology: A look at software and digital media used by civic groups in their campaigns
8.       Prototyping techniques: An intro to the role of prototyping in design processes; a basic overview of simple techniques for visually prototyping an app / service idea. No technical skills are required.
9.       Introduction to usability testing: We discuss how interactive prototypes can be used to test and validate project ideas .
10.       Project surgeries: Help with project work
11.       Pathways: What is involved in taking your idea forward
12.       Final project presentations

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Formal lectures
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture12:002:00Final presentation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading125:0060:00Working within project group
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops112:0022:00Design workshops
Guided Independent StudyProject work194:0094:00Working within project group
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

This module raises students’ awareness of digital technologies in processes of public choice, for example, as part of a participatory / consultative campaign. Thus the module teaches, discusses, and involves projects involving people and technologies in a context of an applied problem context. Thus, the teaching methods emphasise guided live client projects that put students in the position of a designer and advisor for a community group or other third party stakeholder. Outputs from such design-based teaching, including learning logs, creative and visual designs, are best suited to enable students to understand and handle failure and successes in a constructive way. Self-reflective practice, within for client project, challenges students to be self-evocative to their problem-solving capacity, integrity, and resilience. Evaluation of knowledge through blogs, all hands meetings, and a client presentation also encourages risk taking, creativity. The team projects enhance students’ ability to collaborate and develop a client-focused approach combined with understanding of technological possibilities.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Design/Creative proj2M45This component assesses designs produced (including story boards, videos, presentation slide, and app prototypes).
Report2M45Group work, Reflective log documenting the teams' activities, challenges, failures. 5,000 words.
Prof skill assessmnt2M10Peer assessment
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Oral Presentation2MInterim group presentation and progress review
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The assessment contains a group-based client project fostering collaboration and team-work, widely expected in the ‘industry’ and thereby fosters students’ employability . Based on student feedback, the module assessment contains elements of peer assessment and individual contribution to encourage equal effort.
• For the group project, the write-up of a prototype or concept, the reflective log, and peer-evaluation is an appropriate set of assessments to assess both theoretical understanding and problem solving skills as relevant for design contexts. Assessments were chosen so to pro-vide incentives for work consistently spread throughout the term.
• The log enables students to rotate writing posts so to include a personal voice and open space for individual interests and observations.

The assessment methods have been chosen so that they test the student groups’ work commitment throughout the term. Keeping a self-reflective process document encourages students to keep engaged with their client project and will be combined with a non-assessed feedback presentation early on into the module (week four). In this non-assessed presentation, student groups will present their client project, the problems they are seeking to ad-dress, and the method they are planning to take. Feedback from the student audience and the lecturer will give them input at an early stage.
The client output (report and / creative project) as well as the reflective log are weighted equally. The client has an influence on the assessment of the creative project through the final client presentations and a feedback form provided to them.

Reading Lists