Digital Media and Learning Competition / Badges for Learning, Application Concept, 2012
Interaction Design, User Interface and User Experience Consulting, Technology Consulting, Grant Writing
Project Description: Working with the American Social History Project, I worked closely with professional development experts to write a competition proposal for how badges could be used to promote lifelong learning and teacher development. I sketched interaction prototypes and worked with other grant writers to create a testable user-interaction proposal.
Since then I’ve been directly involved with the content and developer teams working in a project management capacity and helping facilitate the creation of user-interface design components and user testing. I am a participant in all the team meetings providing “expert analysis” and “heuristic analysis” to help guide the design and implementation teams.
This is an early sketch of the theory behind how the different badges in the system would reinforce and support one another in creating a system which enforces the rigors of teaching in an online space. A big point of discussion in the early going was “how to make collaboration a vital component of learning, even though teachers will be learning on their own in an online space?”
…The initial concepts led to the diagram below which describes the internal logic of the badge system including the steps which are necessary to be a successful teacher and which badges are associated with the development of those skills.
During the initial development process before the design team became involved, I did sketches and mock ups of forms and interaction elements, outlining expected behaviors and relative hierarchy. I worked with the development team to ensure these user interface elements act as expected and accomplish the goals set forth by the concept team.
Over the course of my interactions with the development team, we developed user stories based off of previous focus groups, surveys and product tests with teachers to ensure that the form was early on meeting the expectations of our users. There process allocated a budget for user testing later on.
These forms were implemented step-by-step by the development team. I worked closely with them through this process to identify potential problems and suggest other usability recommendations. At this point we also conduced a small scale focus group with teachers to identify potential issues before we brought in the design team.
We then worked closely with a designer to skin the layout. This included working with the designer to create visuals which support and illustrate key components of the badge system. Though I did not do the actual graphic design, I helped make recommendations for UI enhancements to improve the system. The one illustrated below was a suggestion to alter the appearance of the badges to better reflect there are “four steps” required to become an apprentice builder, something which the previous zero through three star badge model was not doing effectively.
This project is still in development and is therefore not complete and ready for testing yet. I have organized a dedicated user test which will get teachers in front of the badge system to see how they use it and how they feel about it. The end product will be a limited beta (25-30 teachers), before either a public launch or a second round of funding to upgrade the system pending user feedback.