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Meet the 2014 Summer Instructors: Jodi Leo

A few quick questions with Jodi Leo, summer instructor for Research Methods in Interaction Design.

For the past two years, students attending the Summer Intensive in Interaction Design have had the chance to work with Jodi Leo, a designer, researcher and educator by trade. Jodi helps students overcome any fears or myths in approaching design research, and generally makes the process lots of fun.  We caught up with Jodi to learn what she’s excited for this summer.
Jodi, tell us something about your summer course we might not expect based on its course description.
Students are often surprised that the final project is so focused on producing design. While we do survey research techniques and practices, we do so in order to pair them with the iterative problem-solving skills we need to hone as designers. 
What will students be making or working on in your class this year?
The final 3 contenders for a focus of our research and design are (1) a major national newspaper, (2) a popular social network and (3) a lifeline to the community. I’m still working with my contacts at each organization to make sure they can commit.
Got a good book or article recommendation for people interested in the course?
Steve Portigal’s book, Interviewing Users (5/2013, Rosenfeld Media) really helps students get into the right mindset for the class and provides and outstanding take on setup, moderation, and analysis. My favorite recent article was written by a 2014 Code for America Fellow named Kavi Harshawat and is called “Research and Cookies.”  I would point students to it because of how resourceful Kavi was in setting up his research station, meeting participants where they are, and because it shows what I often see in class, which is how observing people use what you make can really change your worldview. I’m also really excited that Jan Chipchase just started his own embedded design and research studio, Studio D Radiodurans.
What are you excited for in NYC this summer (aside from the summer intensive)?
As a resident of Brooklyn Heights, I take advantage of Brooklyn Bridge Park quite a bit each summer. For those of you staying near SVA and up for a 4-mile walk, I recommend getting up early on Sunday with a favorite book (or the NY Times) and walking down to the Brooklyn Bridge, walking over, hitting Smorgasburg for lunch, then walking up to Brooklyn Bridge Park, stopping to do the crossword or read by the public pool or in any one of the beautifully landscaped areas, and stopping for a beverage at any one of the outdoor cafes in the park. You can time all of this to coincide with one of the Celebrate Brooklyn Dance Parties – I’m going to the one on May 22nd, the African Dance Party with Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars. You’ll also find me taking advantage of two amazing scenes near my office – the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club and on Monday nights, Night Train with Wyatt Cenac at Littlefield. 
What are you working on these days?
I’m a founding member of a brand new product called Imprint, which aims to amplify and preserve the love in peoples lives by creating beautiful, lasting, living records of loved ones. 
With Imprint you can easily collaborate with friends and family to gather personal stories, pictures, and memorabilia to make beautiful, lasting, living records. We just launched our private beta last week and we’d love readers to sign up for an invitation to the private beta at

Research Methods is one of five summer intensive courses in interaction design offered to the public by the MFA Interaction Design program at SVA. To learn more about the program, visit the Summer Intensive in Interaction Design

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