Just experimenting some more with Prezi. Been meaning to try to explain I.A. more in a simpler way. I’d like to go back and apply a metaphor to this.
Archive for the 'User Experience' Category
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have recently exploded on the Internet. Currently participating in the “Elearning & Digital Cultures” Coursera MOOC has been both an exciting and enriching experience so far. Many of my classmates have noted that it’s difficult to connect or even find what you need. I see that. If I haven’t had experienced both participating in and designing smaller online courses, I think I might have run screaming from this class. I decided to take this class to learn more about the MOOC experience and because I knew a course like this would attract a great many folks who can teach me more about online learning and collaboration. And I’m not just speaking about Digital Vikings or Digital Experts ;).
To some extent, online learners do have to take a bit of responsibility in learning how to use the tools, discovering the rules of etiquette and how to use the content creation options (Storify, Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Prezi, Storyline, etc.). It’s like taking Dr. Who’s advice about Time Travel… it “ is like visiting Paris. You can’t just follow the guidebook. You’ve got to throw yourself in, eat the food, use the wrong verbs… “
Part of the fun of engaging in an online course is taking a few risks. And because we don’t get the interpersonal and facial cues from being in a classroom, you have to adapt and sometimes overcompensate when communicating with others online.
I have a few suggestions from my initial experience in this MOOC, and as I continue to take this course over the next few weeks I’m sure I will have more:
1. Provide a digital tour with a facilitator narrating it that walks through the major places to contribute in the course. This can include guidelines for using the forums and subforums correctly. You’re not going to prevent everyone from posting to the top threads instead of using the search to find the appropriate ones, but you’ll cut down on a great deal of the clutter and chatter
2. Provide a way for the newbies to practice using and develop confidence using the communication tools. At the TCC Education Technology Conference they allow all participants to play in ‘sandboxes’ in Illuminate. This allows them to get comfortable with the tool and engage. In a former life I designed a chat activity for our LMS chat tool that incorporated an online scavenger hunt. Students were directed to share thoughts and links on a topic and discuss. Integrating the learning about the tool in an activity that uses it while allowing students to practice helps them both master and become accustomed to online modes of communication.
3. Leverage the skills of the Digital Natives & Proficient Digital Immigrants to help get the newbies up to speed.
4. Have a learning manifesto that defines what you feel the learning should look like. Encourage the students to contribute to it. It looks like the University of Edinburgh has one... but I didn’t see it linked in our actual #edcmooc. Having a manifesto personalized by the facilitators & students of the course can help everyone start.
5. Provide a mechanism or place in the course for people to join cadres where they stick with each other throughout the course. Provide some general guidelines for providing support in the cadres. If possible have folks who are more experienced with tech volunteer to lead each Cadre. Give them guidelines to help start conversations. Encourage fun competitions between cadres that help build team spirit. I know this can be rather challenging in a course with tens of thousands of people, but I think perhaps setting up the space and modeling the behavior for the cadres is a start. I see that in our course there are some self-generated study groups, but how do they know what to do or even study online without some amount of guidance?
6. Require that students have a blog. They can build one specifically for this course or use one that exists already. The blog is a way for folks to reflect and have larger thoughts about their experience with the course and topics.
How about you? Add your ideas on how to improve the MOOC Experience at this Wall on Wallwisher.
Go to the wall and add your own comments.
I finally had the opportunity this past week to focus on preparing this presentation for Slideshare. A co-worker and I presented this at TCC (Technology, Colleges, and Community) this Spring 2011. By the way, TCC is one of the best examples I’ve found of a truly well-run virtual conference, and it’s worth much more than the very inexpensive price of admission.
Of all the projects, I’ve worked on in the past year, I really enjoyed working on the Education Award resource the most. It was the labor & efforts of a great team of truly creative people who helped put it together. Also, it’s a good example of how good content can be developed around learning objectives while meeting user needs and user-centric design principles. This was one of the first projects where I was able to use “Paper Prototyping” to help validate the appropriateness of a web design for both user-friendliness and solid information architecture design.
I’m hoping to be able to record a mp3 recording to apply to the Slideshare soon, but in the meantime, you can view the slide notes and a rough script of this presentation in Slideshare in the “Speaker Notes” tab.
Remember this image from the Simpsons episode where Homer finds his long-lost brother?
Homer thought he was building the ideal car by adding as many features and tools as he could. Sometimes adding too many features to tools and applications or even websites can leave you with a end product that isn’t so usable after all. Just a thought.
I’ve been reviewing GUI Bloopers to reaffirm some of the design issues I’ve been facing lately, and I ran across the following principle:
Basic Principle 2: Consider function first, presentation later.
Jeff Johnson goes on to better define what this means in this quote:
“A software application embodies certain concepts and relationships between concepts. Designers should fully define the concepts and their relationships before they design how to present the concepts to users.”
Applying Instructional Design principles used to do a simple task analysis can help facilitate better design. Simply, you should be able to clearly define the tasks you want the users to complete in interacting with your site, application, or GUI.
I have a somewhat simple example.
Say you’re creating a site for users with the purpose of informing them how to effectively podcast.
You do a simple task analysis that asks the following:
- What knowledge do the user/learners need?
- What behaviors do they need if any to do this?
- What skills do the need to be able to perform?
After you answer these questions (identifying the content items for your site), you will need to create formal learning objectives to guide users through the content they need to be able to accomplish the task, activity or perform the skill that the site is teaching. There is an art to writing good learning objectives that are measurable, and there are whole websites and books devoted to this subject, but for the purpose of this exercise, I am writing them in a very simple form. In the podcasting example, a set of learning objectives may look like this:
Learner will be able to:
- Define what a podcast is and how it is used by both podcasters and listeners.
- Identify tools needed for downloading podcasts.
- Use a simple audio recording tool/software to record a podcast.
- Publish their podcast.
In this scenario you could organize the learning content by the learning objectives. Let’s say you create a simple schematic/wireframe for your web page that looks like this:
This, of course, is a very simple example but the same steps could be used to determine the page layout or content for a site or sub page to a site. From this point you could treat all four of the items above as main categories in the site and determine sub or enabling learning objectives and content items needed to meet these over-arching objectives.
It may seem like this method is over thinking the development of content for the web, but I have found that this method of determining content by ‘Task Analysis’ actually helps better address learner needs rather than simply spilling out a pile content items and then trying to figure out an organizational structure around your pile after wards.
The same task analysis methods can be applied to GUI design of a tool. Just ask yourself (bear in mind some of these questions are over-simplifying things but but there are still users out there who don’t know these things):
- What to the users need to know to be able to use this application?
- Example question – Do they know how to use a file menu?
- What skills do the need to successfully work with the tool?
- Example question – Do they need to know how to upload a file such as a .gif or a .wav file?
- Are there any behaviors or attitudes about technology your audience has that may impact how they use and view the tool?
- Example question - Do the users in your audience like to read printed materials? (Though personally I think we should discourage this as much as possible)
I believe that if you answer some of these questions up front before you start designing the tool, you win at least 80% of the the battle when it comes to conceptualizing design effectively. The result: More happy users.
Tags: #dl09, personalization users demographics targeted learning
Key take aways:
1. We don’t leverage data we collect to improve learner experience in the now
2. Amazon uses 3 things to personalize user experience: user created content (reviews); analytics/data; collaborative filtering
3. Personalization can be scaled see white mindmap.*
* I think we should keep the following chart in mind when we are developing solutions in Drupal.
Tags: Corpulent Blob that Eats Civilization and Poops it Out, Evil, Microsoft, Monopoly
I can name a few things that come to mind….the “Ipod Killer,” attempts at Voice recognition software, their MSN web, Vista….
I know they have a few good things (at least from appearance) like the “Surface” project. Though I have never actually interacted the with device, so I can’t give a personal assessment of the tool.
This whole takeover of Yahoo by Microsoft worries and annoys me. Maybe it’s because MS is just again throwing their muscle around rather than focusing on creating new and innovative tools that people will like. Maybe I just don’t like the idea of large, looming bodies of companies that swallow up smaller businesses and then pass them through like refuse. Didn’t these Microsoft executives read the “NEW RULES” for running a corporation? I suppose you could just say that this is ‘normal’ behavior for a large predatory company and we should just write off these actions as expected. But as a consumer, I just want to make sure the products that I have available to me are “usable” from my perspective as a user, not a software engineer’s idea of ‘usable.’
Maybe it’s because I’ve worked in a very dysfunctional corporate environment similar to Microsoft’s, and I’m just assuming that most large corporations operate the same way (with very little imagination and too much politics). The are so fat and lard ridden that they have no choice but to throw their weight around like a corpulent bully, who must rely on manipulative and predatory tactics to maintain his position.
I also know that large companies use their patent attorneys to search out new and innovative processes developed by smaller companies. These patent attorneys work around the clock to develop broad patents so that once they find instances of small businesses and individuals actually developing something that works, they claim the right to the patent. Evil, huh?
I realize that History shows that Microsoft has given us products in the past that have pushed computing forward. Also, so many companies and people have become dependent on their software and tools. They’re big so they have better resources for offering technical support* Gee, I’m starting to sound like that bit in the film Life of Brian where the group of Judean Peoples front (or Peoples’s Front of Judea) asks…. “What have the Romans done for us?!” I just take issue with the way Microsoft does business, and before anyone points out that their behavior as a company is natural for their size and position, it seems that their way of doing business doesn’t meet everyone’s (the end users) needs. Therefore it’s in all of our interests to have other companies large and small who can fill these niches for us.
But when it comes to this recent takeover, I really can’t see them improving tools like the photo sharing tool Flickr. Also, having had a great deal of experience using Microsoft tools like MS Project and Sharepoint. I really don’t get the feeling that Microsoft really has a cultural appreciation of usability. Maybe Microsoft also suffers from the innovation drain, or their execution of new products just stinks. I could be wrong, but my intuition tells me that companies who are innovative and dynamic usually draw the right types of people who can think, create and implement dynamically. Maybe the combination of the doldrum suburban location and the restrictive politics and culture hurts some companies who can’t draw ideal teams of innovators and star project developers, I don’t know.
- Robert Scoble isn’t cool with Micrsoft
- Read Scoble’s post-I love his suggestion to to post Ballmer’s Stanford speech up in the Google halls to motivate every Google employee push the company forward
- When you type “Microsoft Sucks” into Google you get 1,940,000 results.
*Though one might argue with a well designed product you need less support.
What have the Romans done for us?