The Context parameter focuses on the context the students’ final designs are designed for, and is the foundation of why the designs were developed in the first place. 

Context includes the challenge the design is addressing, the amount of people affected by the challenge(s) and how critical the challenge is. When you assess based on the Context parameter, you also assess how the design fits into the culture, geography and ethics of the society the design is intended for. In short, Context focuses on the life people live where the design is needed. Context is about “Life”.

The Context diagram is developed as a tool to assess and evaluate Design to Improve Life solutions based on the Design to Improve Life parameter Context. To evaluate a design based on Context means that you assess and evaluate the design in relation to the local and global context within which the design has to function.

The Context diagram is created using the five INDEX: Award categories: Body, Home, Work, Play and Community. By using these categories, it is possible to examine and refine the design’s context and assess whether the design is suitable for the purpose and the target group it is developed for. The diagram can be used throughout the Design to Improve Life process to assess and evaluate existing solutions to any challenge, and to examine and assess the design teams’ own designs. The diagram can act as a frame for in-class discussions about the connection between a challenge and its context and the applicability of some solutions within various contexts. 

What do the five INDEX: Award categories represent?

This category includes all types of design that are related to the body; clothes, footwear, devices and aids for treatments and care, tools to help fundamental and sophisticated needs and body shaped techniques such as hearing aids. In addition, the category includes services, which are related to illnesses and health issues, strategies that focus on vital processes, public care and democratic development.

This category includes all types of design that are related to the home; architecture, interior design, lighting, furniture, tools, household appliances, software, communications hardware etc. In addition, the category includes services and processes for the home and strategies for new ways to live and coexist.

This category includes all types of design that are related to work and education; architecture and design, tools for work, machines for production, communication, control- and management systems. In addition, the category includes services for work and education environments and strategies related to these, plus strategies for organization and management development.

This category includes all types of design that are related to sport, play, leisure and culture; play facilities, tools, games and sports equipment, cultural events and other types of recreational activities. In addition, the category includes design of strategies, services and concepts related to the mentioned areas.

This category includes all types of design that are public; roads, public spaces and areas such as parks and plazas, cities, infrastructure, transportation, signage, mass media and communication. In addition, the category includes design of strategies, services and concepts for society, network and community.

How is the Context diagram used?
The Context diagram is divided into five equal sections. The diagram includes an inner and an outer circle. The inner circle represents the local context, and the outer circle represents the global context. When you are evaluating a design using the Context diagram, we recommend that you as teacher or the students find existing Design to Improve Life solutions, to use as warm up examples before they evaluate their own projects.

First, the design teams discuss the chosen solutions. Hereafter, three colors of post-its are used to write down reflections on. Each color represents a level of strength. E.g. pink is strong, blue is medium and green is weak. If the design team feels that a design is mostly related to the Work category, they place a pink post-it in Work. The design could also be relevant in the Play category, and the students will therefore place a blue post-it in that category. The design teams have to discuss and assess whether the design fits best into a local or global context. If the answer is both, they place a post-it on the border between the local and the global circle. It is important that the individual design team discusses and assesses the design in relation to all five categories, to ensure their assessments become as qualified and substantiated as possible.

There are no right or wrong answers during the discussion – the important thing is that the students go into depths in their discussions and analysis of the design, that everyone is heard and that they write their arguments on post-its.

The following techniques use the Context diagram:
 2. Winners’ Review

How is the Context diagram used in Sum Up?
When the students use the Context diagram in their Design to Improve Life process, we recommend that they use it in the Sum Up of the Perceive phase, where they have defined the challenge they want to work with in the Prototype phase. By using the diagram in the preparation of the Sum Up, the students can specify and present their challenge, target group, context and task. The diagram functions as a visual part of the students’ presentation, and helps them gain an overview of their entire process.

In addition, the diagram can be used in the final Sum Up in the Produce phase, where the design teams present their final solutions to their challenges. The Context diagram represents their choices throughout the Design to Improve Life process and ultimately shows which category their design fits into and whether they focus on the local or global context.