This project aims to bring some of the affordances of consumer social networks to teaching and learning, and will deliver applications within CamTools, our Sakai-based VLE. This is an informal blog by the project team at CARET, University of Cambridge.

Friday, 24 July 2009

As Laura James said, the project was presented at the Sakai Conference in Boston. Preparing a 45 minute presentation is surprisingly harder as it seems. I was glad we had so much time to present it, but even 45 minutes still didn't seem to be enough to present everything...There's just too much to say about this interesting project!

When doing the presentation, people seemed to react really enthusiastic about it. Some people were familiar with bits from the used methodology like personas or scenarios, but were surprised by the colourful walls covered in post-its notes and the fact lots of methods were now used all together. Some people seemed to recognize themselves in the personas! Cool! Others made some interesting comments, like: "At this moment, those 3 personas seem to be the right set of presentation for those people, but people behaviours change, so it might be possible that there are new behaviours and also new personas coming up within X years. How would we adapt the system to those differences?" Definitely worth thinking about I would say!

Interested having a look at the slides we used during the presentation?
> Sakai PowerPoint presentation

Some people were so interested in our personas (or simply in the methodology of creating personas), so we promised to share them.
Are you also desperately longing to have a look at our personas or scenarios? Then don't hesitate to have a look!
> Personas, scenarios and the methodology of creating a persona

Documenting, documenting, documenting!

Everyone knows documenting can take a lot of your time. I've been busy for some time now and still I have the feeling we've not covered everything. Sure, these documents are mainly to make sure we're not forgetting anything because it's so easy to forget about something. This means they're actually still more drafts than final documents.

Beside some general writing ups, Tjhien, Oszkar and I thought about writing the whole methodology up within which didn't seemed to be ideal afterwards but is still helpful if you need to write things up in a collaborative way. We tried to cover all the details in this draft document and we ended up with...more than 100 pages! Really, you don't WANT to read this yet. It's still a draft.

We learned a lot though, even just by documenting. For example: It's really hard to explain certain methods through the medium 'text'. So we tried to start making simple videos of some methods we used.

They're not yet finished, but these are some examples to give you an idea:

How we did task-goal analysis (Research phase):
During the research phase, we wrote down the things participants mentioned during the interviews. We captured this in an unusual but extremely helpful way, being: writing down every entry on colour-coded post it notes. Like this it would be easier to sort this information afterwards. Just have a look how we did that.

> full version of the video with some more information and details
> video restricted to Task-goal analysis

How we did user testing (Design phase):
We made some designs of concepts and of course, we wanted to test them with real people to see how they would react on them. Are we still doing the right thing? Therefore, we used a double mirrored room with in one room the participant and a facilitator and in the other room the people who would observe and analyze the data. During the first iteration, participants were looking at paper prototypes of the designs (which you can see in this video) and in the second iteration, they looked at wire frames visible on a real screen.