DRC Projects

Children’s Mental Health Responsive Website/Online Resources

This initiative is a response to evidence-based research conducted in Denton County, Texas in 2008 and 2012 that revealed the need to address mental health issues as a significant factor affecting the health and well-being of children in this region. It involves DRC-based faculty and graduate student design researchers working with personnel from three major public service organizations in Denton County, Texas and one of its premier children’s healthcare providers.

The goal is to create a web-based solution that facilitates mental health awareness, information delivery, community building and data collection on behalf of four key stakeholder groups in Denton County: providers, caregivers, educators and young people.

This web-based Digital System of Care (DSC) will accomplish its goals by catalyzing and sustaining a community of care comprised of these groups by meeting the particular individuals within them. It will also function as a robust data collection tool that will aggregate and sort information provided by groups and group members. The parents, educators and young people who use this set of online resources will be able to educate themselves about mental and behavioral health issues, and gain access to highly localized and tailored information that will link them to appropriate providers and assist them with making informed mental health decisions. The providers and practitioners who use these resources will use the datasets the DSC generates to improve their individual and institutional abilities to effectively deal with the mental and behavioral health issues that are affecting select children and their families in Denton County.

more

This initiative is a response to evidence-based research conducted in Denton County, Texas in 2008 and 2012 that revealed the need to address mental health issues as a significant factor affecting the health and well-being of children in this region. It involves DRC-based faculty and graduate student design researchers working with personnel from three major public service organizations in Denton County, Texas and one of its premier children’s healthcare providers.

The goal is to create a web-based solution that facilitates mental health awareness, information delivery, community building and data collection on behalf of four key stakeholder groups in Denton County: providers, caregivers, educators and young people.

This web-based Digital System of Care (DSC) will accomplish its goals by catalyzing and sustaining a community of care comprised of these groups by meeting the particular individuals within them. It will also function as a robust data collection tool that will aggregate and sort information provided by groups and group members. The parents, educators and young people who use this set of online resources will be able to educate themselves about mental and behavioral health issues, and gain access to highly localized and tailored information that will link them to appropriate providers and assist them with making informed mental health decisions. The providers and practitioners who use these resources will use the datasets the DSC generates to improve their individual and institutional abilities to effectively deal with the mental and behavioral health issues that are affecting select children and their families in Denton County.

Context/Need for This Online Resource

According to the Children’s Health Assessment & Planning Survey (CCHAPS) conducted by Cook Children’s Hospital of Fort Worth, Texas in Denton County in 2008 and again in 2012, children’s mental health issues are at the forefront of seven key areas of concern identified in this region as negatively affecting children and their families. More than 7% of people living in Denton County under the age of 18 suffer from mental health problems and disorders, including ADD/ADHD, developmental delays, learning disorders, anxiety disorder and autism/Asperger’s syndrome. Additionally, children’s mental health status has been shown to be a reliable indicator for the eventual onset of adult mental and behavioral disorders, functional disabilities and chronic health conditions. Families who have children with mental health disorders spend significantly more on health care than families who have children with physical disorders.

Our Faculty and Grad Students’ Response

Using a select array of theoretical approaches—grounded theory and activity theory among them—to frame our methods for designing and re-designing the interactive features and functionalities of this web-based resource and tool, we’ve developed a workable prototype. It will be tested and re-tested with the active participation of our project partners and many different types of potential users/audience members throughout 2013. The system will be implemented in iterative stages in the summer, fall and winter of 2013.

The West End Project

Jul 18, 2014

The elements of "The West End Workbook" available for download below were produced by faculty and students working in the Design Research Center in 2011 and 2012. This document is a self-proclaimed "Swiss Army Knife" of ideas and approaches that can positively inform strategic urban planning. Although much of what is chronicled here involves a neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, the primary concepts that have been developed and operationalized here can be applied in many places around the world. 

The West End Workbook has been written and designed to provide those who help plan and execute the development or re-development of urban communities with flexible sets of tools that can help these communities revitalize themselves economically, socially and technologically. It presents AND simply explains how particular types of design research approaches can categorically affect the achievement of these goals. 

Examples of how these approaches have guided the evolution of several innovative ways for transforming the West End neighborhood of downtown Dallas, Texas are articulated here, as are examples of how the essential ideas that gave rise to these innovations were developed. 

The entire workbook is available for download here in eight (8) .pdf sections.

more
Jul 18, 2014

The elements of "The West End Workbook" available for download below were produced by faculty and students working in the Design Research Center in 2011 and 2012. This document is a self-proclaimed "Swiss Army Knife" of ideas and approaches that can positively inform strategic urban planning. Although much of what is chronicled here involves a neighborhood in Dallas, Texas, the primary concepts that have been developed and operationalized here can be applied in many places around the world. 

The West End Workbook has been written and designed to provide those who help plan and execute the development or re-development of urban communities with flexible sets of tools that can help these communities revitalize themselves economically, socially and technologically. It presents AND simply explains how particular types of design research approaches can categorically affect the achievement of these goals. 

Examples of how these approaches have guided the evolution of several innovative ways for transforming the West End neighborhood of downtown Dallas, Texas are articulated here, as are examples of how the essential ideas that gave rise to these innovations were developed. 

The entire workbook is available for download here in eight (8) .pdf sections.

 

1 - West End Workbook - Introduction

2 - West End Workbook - Overview

3 - West End Workbook - Foundations

4 - West End Workbook - Remembering

5 - West End Workbook - Rediscovering

6 - West End Workbook - Connecting

7 - West End Workbook - The Value of Ideas

8 - West End Workbook - Moving Forward

The West End Workbook is available for download in its entirety, but this could require a bit of patience on your part, as this is a large document that will NOT download quickly if the normal speed of your browser is slow.

West End Workbook

KERA Kids’ and Families’ Interaction Design

Dec 13, 2012

During the summer of 2011, Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television and radio affiliate KERA began a collaboration with a design research team at the UNT Design Research Center (DRC). They set out to re-examine how to best meet the needs and wants of the people who use KERA’s Kids’ and Families’ Programming content online. Over time, the primary objective of this design-led, interdisciplinary research endeavor shifted. It evolved from being primarily focused on how to improve the experience of use of this web-based resource to being much more broadly focused. The project team is now working on the development of a variety of means to better meet the needs of the diverse array of parents, caregivers, teachers and children who use KERA’s unique early-childhood-learning resources.

more
Dec 13, 2012

During the summer of 2011, Dallas/Fort Worth/Denton’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) television and radio affiliate KERA began a collaboration with a design research team at the UNT Design Research Center (DRC). They set out to re-examine how to best meet the needs and wants of the people who use KERA’s Kids’ and Families’ Programming content online. Over time, the primary objective of this design-led, interdisciplinary research endeavor shifted. It evolved from being primarily focused on how to improve the experience of use of this web-based resource to being much more broadly focused. The project team is now working on the development of a variety of means to better meet the needs of the diverse array of parents, caregivers, teachers and children who use KERA’s unique early-childhood-learning resources.

What We’ve Set Out to Accomplish

To achieve our more widely framed objective, the joint DRC and KERA team have begun working to meet the following goals that will improve access to high quality resources that will in turn aid the efforts of all those trying to raise children who are socially, physically and emotionally healthy and who are well-prepared to succeed in school and in life:

  • re-design the look-and-feel of the Kids’ and Families’ portion of the KERA website to ensure that it visually communicates the essential message that this array of content is “useful and usable to adults and fun and engaging for kids;”

  • ensure that both the visual presentation and the basic functionality of the unique, well-crafted content found on this website makes it easy for many different types of users to search it for topic and age-specific information, and for these people to pose questions about what they’ve found;

  • ensure that this website offers its users opportunities to make suggestions regarding informational resources, and allows them to learn about area activities that are available for them and their children;

  • enable these website users to share the knowledge they’ve gained from this content with others, in both online and face-to-face interactions among individuals and in small groups in their respective communities;

  • ensure that KERA’s early-childhood-learning resources are eventually made available via the mobile internet, so that users may access this content from their smart phones and other portable communications devices.

Reaching Traditionally Under-Served Populations

Just because much of the early-childhood-learning resources that have been discussed thus far in this project description will be made available through online resources does NOT mean that the scope of what emerges from the KERA + UNT DRC collaboration will be limited to those who have internet access. Another essential objective of our endeavors is to reach traditionally under-served groups, which include those who do not have access to the internet, or who only have limited access to it. These people include childcare providers and parents who have limited income or literacy.

To enable these groups to gain and sustain their access to KERA’s array of early-childhood-learning resources, the project team will work with a select array of childcare provider and parenting groups that exist within these communities in Dallas to determine the best means to deliver our content to them. Both UNT and KERA have close and long-standing relationships with several north Texas-based organizations that provide services to the parents of young children, and we plan to involve representatives from them to help us guide the development of strategies and tactics for effectively reaching these under-served audiences. Some of these interactions may also help us develop aspects of how to best design and operate the online-facilitated aspects of these early-childhood-learning resources, especially as these evolve. Some of these organizations will hopefully include:

  • HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters)

  • Head Start

  • AVANCE-Dallas

  • Childcare Group

  • Campfire Boys and Girls

  • Educational First Steps

The primary ages of the children whose early-childhood-learning experiences we’re attempting to help their parents, childcare providers and teachers improve range from newborns to third-graders. It is important to conceive of what we propose as a simple-to-access-and-operate, integrated communications system that will store, organize and deliver topic-specific content on an as-needed basis to those responsible for the physical care, literate development and emotional well-being of children. It is also important to understand that much of the content that will be delivered through this endeavor by the KERA + UNT DRC collaborative team will have been built on the foundation of award-winning early-childhood-learning materials.

produced by KERA, PBS Kids and the aforementioned north Texas-based organizations that provide services to the parents of young children.

User-Centered Design

Downtown Dallas, Inc. (DDI) Project

Dec 13, 2012

Discussions between senior members of DDI — the principal advocate, champion and steward of the city’s central core — and the UNT Design Research Center (DRC) revealed that both groups could benefit from design-led interdis­ciplinary research into ways that could directly benefit targeted districts within the central core, and provide the DRC and DDI with an opportunity to transform applied research into more generalized means to benefit other districts. Thereby allow DDI to further its ongoing mission and strategic goals.

more
Dec 13, 2012

Discussions between senior members of DDI — the principal advocate, champion and steward of the city’s central core — and the UNT Design Research Center (DRC) revealed that both groups could benefit from design-led interdis­ciplinary research into ways that could directly benefit targeted districts within the central core, and provide the DRC and DDI with an opportunity to transform applied research into more generalized means to benefit other districts. Thereby allow DDI to further its ongoing mission and strategic goals.

To test this position, DDI and the DRC have embarked a one-year collaborative pilotresearch project focused on issues and concerns both shared and yet to be identified by stakeholders in the City’s Historic West End District. This project will involve DRC research faculty and graduate students along with numerous DDI,Dallas and district stakeholders.

The project brief entailed five major areas (“Focus,” “Structure,” “Timing,” “Outcomes” and “Success”):

1. Focus > enhancing localized capacity > benefitting all

DDI’s stated mission is to support 13 unique districts that comprise the city’s central core. It ac­complishes this broad charge through interconnected programming focused on housing, commercial development, transportation, quality of life and four other targeted urban concerns. As a private 501(c)3, DDI accomplishes its mission with a small permanent staff led by a volunteer directorship.

The increasing needs of a growing metropolis coupled with DDI’s finite structure suggests that the organization’s ability to affect hoped for positive change is limited by virtue of its available internal resources and by the resources of the individual districts it supports. Thus, it seems logical to suggest that if DDI could enhance the capacity of the individual districts to affect autonomous, localized change, the organiza tion could function as a targeted force multiplier in addition to being a broad-based service provider. The proposed pilot project would explore this hypothesis:

That it may be possible for DDI to augment its current offerings by developing and providing districts with adaptable tools, processes and resources that could help them to increase their respective capacity to achieve unique goals andaspirations. And that, taken together, these localized successes could support the overall vitality of the central core while concurrently enhancing DDI’s ability to accomplish its mission.

2. Structure > 1 district > 5 phases > soft systems methodology > faculty led student teams

The pilot project would take one district (or an organization within a district) as its subject of study and development partner — DDI and the DRC jointly determining the best candidate. The project would progress through five phases: discovery, engagement/development, testing, implementation and assess ment. Working inductively and abductively, interdisciplinary teams of faculty led graduate students will identify and deploy cross-disciplinary, hybridized thinking and 2research methods.

3. Timing > benchmarks

The pilot project would commence upon approval of a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) between DDI and CVAD. The MOU would detail the pilot research projectspecifics along with the respective responsibilities of DDI and the DRC. The project is expected to run for 9–12 months with intermediate, measurable benchmarks occurring at stipulated intervals.

4. Outcomes > expected work products

Although subject to change based on the research findings accrued during the pilot project, the DRC research team expects that the outcomes of this research will offer DDI:

A richer, more complete social, economic and political description of one segment of the Dallas central core. Out of this data gathering and analysis could also emerge methods for more systematically ascertaining these types of data forother Dallas districts.

Adaptable tools, processes and resources that could be offered by DDI to other Dallasdistricts or groups for their respective localized use. These tools, processes and resources might include system designs, technology led solutions, and new knowledge about development best practices.

A repository of intellectual assets that DDI could employ to catalyze widespread community development among other Dallas urban districts.

5. Success > measurement and assessment

Efficacy – do the work products (various means, methods, tools, processes and resources discovered or invented during the course of the pilot research project) work as intended? If not, how might they be improved in their future iterations?

Efficiency – do the work products result from the prudent application of existing resources? If not, how might the efficiency be increased or how might needed resources be identified and leveraged?

Effectiveness – do the work products meet the immediate needs of the local district as well as the larger, long-term needs of the central core and DDI?

Once the project is more clearly defined, these metrics would be adapted to reflect more specific qualitative and quantitative variables and benchmarks.

Research