Beginnings of the JHiSquare Protocol
Developing a script to guide our data collection session was the starting point of our collaborative efforts on the iSquare team, and therefore, many decisions were made at this stage. First, Professor Hartel and the iSquare team provided us with a script that we used to guide and inspire our own approach to addressing the scholars participating in our study. We felt that many features of this pre-existing script were essential to include in ours, such as the background information on the iSquare protocol, our methodological focus on arts-informed research, as well as the ethical guidelines central to participant-driven studies. Some new features we included in our JHiSquare script were a series of thought-provoking questions about information, as well as a verbal request for participants to refrain from using their cell phones or any aids during the session. Both of these decisions were made in an attempt to create a more immersive and contemplative atmosphere for our participants.
Here are some of the questions about information that we included in our script:
· How is information conveyed and presented?
· Where does information exist?
· Can information be a catalyst?
· When do you need information?
(Credits to Mahika for these incredibly inspiring questions!)
In addition to formulating a script for our study, perhaps the most significant consideration we pondered as a team was regarding the materials that we would feature in our session. Since the JHiSquare protocol was the first to feature colourful drawing instruments among conventional black pens, we initially felt inspired to include a variety of colourful media in our study. Some of the materials we considered were pencil crayons, crayons, oil pastels, and markers. However, after further discussion, we feared that drawings executed with certain materials, such as oil pastels and crayons, would smudge upon the collection and storage of data. Thus, we decided to abandon the inclusion of crayons, and oil pastels to avoid compromising the integrity of our data. In order to ensure more control and consistency among media, we decided to only feature black pens, coloured pens, and coloured markers as materials in our study.
Lastly, upon the recommendation of the iSquare team, we decided to use paper tablecloths to cover the table surfaces that the participants worked upon. By doing this, we hoped to create an inspiring, carefree, and creative environment that provided participants the opportunity to liberally experiment with the diverse materials provided.
How is information conveyed and presented?
The Physical Environment
How Space Affected Data Gathering
Initially, we were going to use Wymilwood Lounge at Victoria College’s Goldring Student Centre to conduct our research gathering. However, when we went to look at the space, we discovered that it lacked the furniture items we needed - namely, tables. The SiR also had a presentation in the space directly before we were going to be using it, making set-up very difficult. Due to these factors, we chose to move our research gathering to Burwash Hall.
This move benefited us enormously - the space is huge and allowed for us to use the large dining tables. We also had the advantage of the windows which line the hall on both sides, letting in significant amounts of natural light that aided in alleviating the clinical feeling often associated with research gathering. The space is also where we eat communal dinners during the program, which seemed to have contributed to a more relaxed atmosphere. We set-up the space by moving chairs around four large tables. We further divided the tables in half by running a piece of tape across the center. This allowed for us to divide our materials between the two sides and avoid hoarding.
The Social Environment
The latter half of this week focused on the data management of newly collected iSquares. Stephanie Power, the Data Manager of the iSquare Team, provided the JHI Fellows with an overview of how the iSquare Team developed its strategies to manage the growing quantity and complexity of data and the range of storage options available for preservation.
The iSquares collected from our data gathering activity with the other JHI members were then labelled, scanned and recorded in our following process. This management activity was conducted in the University of Toronto Library, using the scanner and computer programs available to the group. Stephanie Power emphasis the digitization of the collected iSquares to the archival quality; thus, requiring a higher print resolution of the scanned material. The cropping and final export of the iSquares were completed in Adobe Photoshop and then uploaded into the cloud.
The process may be less active and more repetitive than the data gathering stage as we are only labelling and digitizing the iSquares. Nonetheless, the group was introduced to the inner workings of data management for the iSquare team and uncovered valuable insight into the significance of having an organized and accessible data management system. Writing from retrospective, this stage can be viewed as a short and dry part of the iSquare project, but it is the reason why the iSquares are still accessible geographically and periodically. Without these systems in place, the projects would be disconnected between each sampling and further analyses would be impossible. Moreover, as the iSquare project is prepared to keep their data accessible in the future, adds another layer of the functionality of information onto the information we collected. Every step of organizing the data collected needed to be thoroughly evaluated and designed with the future in mind.