Once your thesis proposal is approved, you break out into a happy dance as you jumped over a Masters hurdle. You are elated that the online graphic design committee at your university approved the topic presented. However, after all the confetti settles and the adrenaline subdues, you realize the huge journey you are about to embark. Starting this semester I was both anxious and excited to begin developing my thesis. I began by researching my audience (foster children), stakeholders (foster parents, biological parents, social workers, respite and mentors), my competition (similar memory recording companies/organizations/products) and topic field (foster care community). I did this through both primary research, with surveys, questionnaires, and interviews, as well as secondary research, through books, articles, and websites.
I had various solutions on how to help foster children document memories but only through audience feedback was I able to determine which methods were the best option. In my research I found that recording memories is difficult in an unsure and dynamic environment. Obstacles such as time, resources, finances, commitment, and accessibility drastically impact memory analoging. I learned that children create most of their memories outside of school, usually during some form of event surrounded by family and friends. Children describe memories as feeling important and happy, learning lessons, experiences gratitude, and practicing problem solving. Although my topic has gained positive feedback, some express concern regarding remembering bad times, screen time control, and the unsuccessfulness of LifeBooks (a life recording book idea circulating the foster community).
After analyzing my data, I decided that a website and packaging would be the ideal solutions for my thesis problem. The website will have a portal for each individual foster care child in which they can upload entries, images, and audio that will be stored. Caretakers and others in the same network can uploaded additional information for the foster child to store. Once the child has completed a stage (elementary, junior, high school), a printed version of the personal portal will converted into a book format. Initially I thought my main focus should be on rebranding Lifebooks but given the nomadic lifestyle of foster children, they need a place of virtual stability, such as analogical website. Packaging will help children transport their artifacts while being in foster care. These tangible items are objects that cannot be stored via the website and are in need of a safe, conserving container.
Each decision made, from my visual system to deliverables, was due to new insights I learned about my topic and audience. I was able to network and build strong connections within the foster care community. I still have a long have a long way to go, focusing on creating more sketches in order to finalize my logo and refine my DS chart, Thesis Progress timeline and Materials Matrix. Once my social media page, Thesis HQ website, and blog became effective, I felt my thesis truly come alive. I am ready for the next chapter of this thesis journey.