The thesis… It’s complete!

RecommendedApproach

My final recommendation to the client after evaluating the prototype

Here’s the abstract from my paper titled ONBOARDING XMOOC PROJECT TEAMS:
Designing learning for professional development.

Purpose: The goal was to design and test a best-practice Onboarding approach, informed by literature and an instructor survey, to address challenges in executing MOOC projects,
and to improve the Onboarding experience for MOOC instructors and project teams.

Theory: The author compiled challenges and best practices into the ADDIE framework as
inspiration for selecting critical learning objectives for an Onboarding curriculum,
employing the 70-20-10 model (McCall, Lombardo, Lombardo, & Morrison, 1988).
Iterative design techniques were informed by thoughtful interaction design
(Stolterman & Löwgren, 2004). Evaluation of a beta prototype was conducted using
the framework proposed by (McKenney & Reeves, 2012).

Method: The project team previewed the alpha prototypes of a MetaMOOC learning design. The beta prototype was developed with indicative content and formally evaluated with five experts using qualitative interviews. Coding of the feedback included
categories to inform future iterations.

Results: Evaluations of the beta prototype learning (formative) objectives and content provided showed these to be largely appropriate with suggested improvements. The design (summative) objectives were proven to be unrealistic. The author recommends a more comprehensive curriculum as well as project management toolkit, spanning the entire project lifecycle.

Here is the final document if you wish to read it!

PHEW! Now I can enjoy life just that teensiest bit more… and decide what to learn next. MWAAAAAHHHHAAAAHAAAA…

Cross-Cultural Communication

WVS_Map

World Values Survey Map: an incredible long-running programme!

I was asked to create a cultural awareness and communication training for a group of technical experts who advise retail partners across EMEA, including some countries in Central Asia. Although team had not struggled with this significantly in the past, the team leader felt it was important to increase awareness of cultural differences and how these could impact even rather factual technical communication. The challenge is to telescope “awareness” of a rather broad concept down to how to transfer these behaviours once one goes back to work. We agreed this type of soft-skills training would best be conducted in a classroom to take advantage of the group dynamics. Please see the presentation here which I drafted to facilitate the session.

I used a few frameworks to discuss the idea of culture: The World Values Survey and Hofstede’s Dimensions of Culture. We explore a few typical scenarios at work to reflect on these models, and which dimensions seem to most impact communication. Then I rely heavily on inspiration from Richard D. Lewis’ classic book When Cultures Collide to talk about concrete behavioural differences in how people communicate. Again we talk about some scenarios. As a final exercise the learners are asked to reflect and share what concrete actions they can take away to their work.

My concern with this training is that it would be too “fluffy” for a group of technical experts. We reviewed it with a couple of them and they said the first part about what culture means was challenging to grasp, but otherwise they thought it would be helpful. One said it would even help his teammates to understand him a bit better! Unfortunately due to circumstances I wasn’t able to deliver this concept but maybe someday…

 

 

Well-being in a remote study context

girl-4981766_1280

Not exactly within a remote study context, but definitely important for well-being!

As part of a job application process, I was recently asked to prepare a one-hour training course about well-being in a remote study context. I was allowed to define the delivery method and course structure. Please see the presentation I crafted to facilitate the discussion.

I made some assumptions about the learners and that there would be the possibility to set up a social media group for the participants. I planned that this learning would be a virtual meeting using some tool with interactive features such as whiteboarding, pointing, etc. I used learning design techniques of Before-During-After, active learning, and constructive alignment to create a well-rounded session.

For the Before part of the session, I leveraged some tools I have found helpful in my own life to help make the session practical. First, a life balance assessment on Remente.com, and two concepts about forming good habits from the book Better Than Before by Gretchen Rubin. 

For the During part, I pondered the challenge of taking two rather large subjects (well-being + remote/distance learning?) and creating a practical takeaway from a one hour session. In my reading for school, I’ve been curious about why learners have challenges engaging with remote learning programmes. I explained some of those reasons and asked learners to think about what might be obstacles for them. The most-common reason is that the learner gets behind on coursework, gets discouraged, and decides they will never catch up. This means understanding one’s self, understanding the importance of well-being in life and developing some discipline and good habits are important. We talk about what type of habit-formers there are, and what type of strategies can be effective for forming habits.

After the session, learners have a follow-up assignment to reflect on what habits they want to form in terms of well-being and studying, and devise a strategy for how to do this over a week. They must post on the social media group and encourage each other. The instructor will ask for reflections after the first week and likely periodically as the group interacts with one another.

Picture courtesy of Pixabay.

Week 8: EdX 300x Capstone Assignment

Just click on it to play!

I married several of my previous assignments to create this e-learning. Here is how it satisfies the capstone assignment requirements:

  1. Digital document (ebook, infographic, interactive text)
  2. Original digital video (2-3 minutes in length) published online with closed captioning (non-auto generated)
  3. Your video can be a screencast or mash up (splicing together) of other Creative Commons licensed work you edited / enhanced to create an original work,
    • My video from number 2 is a screencast.
  4. Enhanced Digital Images (at least 2 images) that you have created or edited in some manner.  identify how you’ve enhanced the images,
    • I created my own avatar as a sort of trademark, the Swedish Nerd, which appears on my slides. She is a mash-up of an avatar I created at avatarmaker.com and added the helmet/hair from an image I found on oercommons.com. I mashed them using Snag-It. Here she is! SwedishNerdAvatarWithHelmet
    • In the Quick Reference to Importing References with X9 End Note document there are several screenshots which I annotated using Snag-It.
  5. Interactive (adaptive type) module
    • See the above e-learning, which has quiz questions and links to relevant resources and content embedded within it.
  6. Identify at least two Open Educational Resources to support identified content.
  7. Label your media with a Creative Commons license (student have a choice on which level of rights to allow or to retain all rights)
    • See the thumbnail of the e-learning video above, and below in this blog post.
  8. Apply your updated Digital Media Checklist created in week 1 to each of your digital media, provide the overview of findings and describe in a short statement or rationale why each digital media artefact will support content development or your lesson.
    • Please see the Digital Media Checklist for this assignment.
    • Each assignment’s blog post has a link to its checklist at the end. You can see each assignment in order in the Categories drop-down to the left of my blog.

Reflections and what I would have done differently:

  • I would have preferred to take the time to create the e-learning as a SCORM package with full accessibility, then publish it on SCORMCloud. Maybe next time!
  • I would have recorded the audio first instead of trying to fit existing video to audio done second. Combining audio and video is always tricky. This video I watched to learn how to edit audio recommended this and now I know it’s true!

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Week 7: E-Learning with Camtasia

For this week’s assignment I wanted to explore the limitations of Camtasia using PowerPoint as a basis for e-learning production. Camtasia is a very powerful tool and I’d like to fully master it before I play with other tools like Articulate or Lectora. I published it on Screencast.com so that I could take advantage of the quiz functionality. Click here or on the image to launch my short e-learning course.

APA_ReferencingPart1_Thumbnail

 

My impression is that Camtasia is great for certain things but for an e-learning tool it’s still rather fiddly. I acknowledge that in order to meet accessibility guidelines, I really need to add audio and closed-captions. I didn’t have the time to fiddle with audio at the moment, perhaps in the next iteration. I found this gentleman Lon Naylor’s video very helpful in making decisions about how to produce the project.

Things I liked with this solution:

  • I can manipulate the video track easily
  • Importing the PowerPoint as a Windows Media Video meant I could keep my built-in animations.

Things I didn’t like with this solution:

  • The quiz functionality does not have the possibility for multiple correct answers to a multiple choice, which I didn’t understand until I started configuring.
  • You can only have ONE active hotspot on the page at one time. I had planned to have four at once, which wasn’t possible. To compensate for this, I had to give a hint to the learner to click through.

Please see the Digital Media Checklist for this assignment.

Unfortunately it is not technically possible to indicate within Screencast.com that the video is licensed under Creative Commons. I have added this directly within the thumbnail, so if I produce it again I’ll ensure it’s on the title page.

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Week 6: Meal Planning: a Nerdy Path to Sanity for Busy Parents

vegan wrap with side salad

My family loves anything in a wrap!

My “podcast” is about getting started with Meal Planning, which I find streamlines my life a lot when I’m running from one thing to another. My first attempt had my son in it but I unfortunately had to scrap that version due to poor sound quality.

For some reason WordPress has decided it’s not safe to upload .m4a file types so I had to do this as a .wav file, which creates a much larger file. Sorry about that! I recorded this a couple of times with different types of microphones and I wasn’t able to really equalise my voice very well. I thought I spoke quite softly but there are points where my voice sort of “buzzes” and I’m not good enough with the editing tools to get rid of it.

I played around with recording in Audacity but ended up editing in Camtasia because I’m just more comfortable with it for video, and I wanted to understand what audio features are available.

Here is a transcript for the hearing impaired or those who prefer skimming:

Hey , everybody. Welcome to my first ever podcast called Meal Planning: a Nerdy Path to Sanity for Busy Parents. So I want to tell you a bit about how I got started doing it and a few steps so that you can get started . I started thinking about meal planning when I realised that one of the most stressful part of my days was standing in front of the refrigerator hoping for inspiration to come to me , and I had to decide what to cook after a long day of work , so I decided to relieve my own stress level, I would give meal planning a try. I had heard of it before and it just seemed like way too structured for me and I didn’t want to try it.

But I did get started and the first thing I did was Google…Microsoft Excel meal planning template or something like that. And then I got one that I could edit for whatever I liked.

I decided to plan for breakfasts and dinners only because lunch usually we eat outside during the week and then on the weekend it’s a bit more relaxed. Then I recommend you think about what rules you have for your family to help you put structure around your planning. Like, in our family, we love to have pizza on Friday. I try to cook vegetarian one day a week and I like to have something special for dinner on Sundays. And then I leave one day open for just sort of cleaning out leftovers and stuff like that. And so that puts a bit of shape around your plan and makes it easier for you.

Then the next step is, think about what sort of things could you make ahead and freeze and put those into your plan. Maybe once or twice a week you decide to cook double. You can Google some websites for freezer-friendly meals. This is especially good for breakfast when you’re tired and you don’t have a lot of energy. So I do things like make veggie muffins ahead, healthy quesadillas with spinach and beans, and I even make bacon or sausage ahead and I freeze it so I can just warm it up in the morning. Soups, stews, anything pasta-related . You can freeze it really nicely and have it ready to go in the fridg , defrosted to warm up when you come home from work .

Then when you start to get ready to plan , you can also ask your family what they would like to have included . My family loves anything in a wrap. So if I ask them what they want , they’ll probably want halloumi and sprouts with hummus and a wrap, chicken in a wrap or something like that . Ask your kids for ideas. We made a little game out of it at one point where I put things on little scraps of paper and my son was allowed to pick things out .

So I guess you’re ready to get your pencil out, the next step . And how much should you plan at once ? Start small and see if it’s for you . Start with one week at a time and see whether you like it. I currently do four weeks in advance because I think it’s just easier. I can sit down and do that and plan for a whole month.

You get your shopping list ready. I even went and googled the same web site where I got my meal plan template. I got a grocery shopping template…Grocery list . Then you can go for your big shop . Maybe you want to do it online.

And then you can put your beautiful plan on the fridge . It might not stop your family from asking you for what’s for dinner, but maybe sometimes you never know . I hope this was interesting for you, the steps to get started with meal planning.

Enjoy the benefits and reduced stress level!

We must evaluate our digital assets using our checklists. Please see the checklist for this entire blog post here.

Image attribution: stenholz, Pixabay

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Week 4: Storyboarding and video


 

Hello dear reader, I recorded this video as part of my original concept of an e-learning course for selecting a lifelong digital transcript. It is broken up into chapters for the functional requirements I set out in my selection matrix, which in my final course would come before that and would add a bit of context. I defined these in the Week 2 Assignment.

I’m sad to say that this video is a hot mess for these reasons:

  1. I recorded the demo portion in Screencast-o-matic free version so the watermark shows in the corner.
  2. I edited in Camtasia and added some transitions but…
  3. I forgot I didn’t want my own LinkedIn profile header showing so I had to blur a lot of it out.

If I had to do it again I definitely would have just created a fake account and demoed from that, using Camtasia to do the recording. Camtasia is worth the money for me if I will be creating a lot of videos. Some things I got skilled at in Camtasia whilst preparing this one:

Lesson Learned: The Speech-to-Text tool on Camtasia is very poor. Honestly it’s not worth using, even if you try to train Camtasia’s speech recognition tool. I should have taken the extra couple of minutes to split the video from the audio and uploaded the audio to Nvivo Transcribe, which I find is excellent for transcribing English. It would have been quicker in the end!

We were required to storyboard our demos. See my storyboard for the video, which I did in Microsoft Powerpoint.

We are required to evaluate our media using our checklists. Please see my evaluation here.

Week 5:EndNote X9 Special for GU Students

For the last three terms of my Master’s programme I have manually managed and proofed my APA references in papers and EdX assignments. Now that I’m working on the thesis, the number of references became too many to continue this way.  So I forced myself to learn how to use this EndNote thing. You can do it too, I promise it’s worth it.


 

I made this video as a tutorial for my classmates in the International Information Technology and Learning programme. It summarises the features I have found useful with the EndNote referencing tool once I got it installed and went through the basics, and contains the things I know they would want to do, like get references from our library search engine. I had to watch some videos and play around quite a bit to learn how to use it. It’s an intimidating tool to get started with but it now saves me SO MUCH TIME. As a gesture of love to my classmates and future generations of ITL@GU students, I wanted to put this together. It will form one part of my capstone assignment for the UMUC 300x course on EdX. It will be a short course for new students on getting started with EndNote.

I recorded the video using Camtasia and incorporated the closed captions feature. I also have a table of contents in the YouTube notes so viewers can go quickly to the sections they are most interested in.

If I had more time I’d like to incorporate some transitions. It would have been good to highlight my mouse whilst I was recording as well.

We are required for the UMUC 300x course to submit a storyboard of our videos, find that here.

Additionally I have critiqued my video using my Digital Media Checklist, please find that here.

TIA 132 Digital Tools for Communication and Learning

NewUserOnboarding1stIteration

First iteration of an “Onboarding” tutorial targeted to new senior users of Facebook

This course involved a group design project. We were assigned to work with a research team looking at “Digital Seniors” and their use of social media. Due to limited time for the project, the prototypes were not tested on actual seniors, however we did our best to incorporate design touches inspired by the literature. To prepare ourselves for the design project, we read selected literature in the domain and informally interviewed senior Facebook users in our social circles.

The scope of our design project was not defined for us when we started. To keep scope manageable, we considered Porter’s (2008) framework for designing social applications. The user is confronted with choices during the sign-up, first-time use, and ongoing engagement phases of using a new application. We chose to focus initially on the sign-up and first-time use scenarios.

We defined our design objectives as:

  1. Address typical UI challenges faced by seniors e.g.
    1. Reduce the text and replace with icons if possible
    2. Avoid slang or informal wording
    3. Use very clear fonts and colour schemes, avoiding too many similar colours
    4. Do not use pop-up windows
  2. Employ elements of Multi-layered Design when appropriate, specifically:
    1. Present only the most popular or interesting features and coach the user how to get started
    2. Make the revealed features easy to find later
    3. Coach the user on how to explore the platform when they want to learn how to do something new
  3. Consider Porter’s (2008) framework and limit the designs to the sign-up and first-time use scenarios.

Our first round of storyboarding produced several ideas: a simplified account sign-up, a simplified home page, and a new user “onboarding” tutorial which would introduce a new user to the features seniors are most interested in. As a design team we reviewed this first artefact together with our instructor. As a team we decided to go with the onboarding idea but incorporate ideas from the other two, because realistically it would be unlikely that Facebook would ever open the API enough to redesign the account sign-up or the home page. The third idea looked like this:

NewUserOnboarding1stIteration

First “operative image” of the onboarding concept

The second design iteration we established some clear assumptions, specifically that the user was using a mobile phone device, the tutorial would be presented upon first login, and it would end in the user being delivered to their home page. A set of tickboxes indicated progress through the tutorial, and a section on privacy educated the user on things to consider when posting content. Additionally, one group member wanted to experiment with adding a friendly coaching character to the tutorial as this seems to be an interesting technique employed even on Swedish government websites. This version looked like this:

NewUserOnboarding2ndIteration

Second iteration operative image

We reviewed this prototype together with the expert research team and one assistant. The research design team reacted negatively to the Smiley character and discussion of “fun” things one could do in Facebook. The lead researcher remarked that older men would likely find this type of approach too frivolous and likely would not want to continue with the tutorial. Based on their experiences so far working with seniors, the research experts’ impression was that seniors have fixed ideas about what the mobile phone is used for, and such a character was not serious enough. The expert team recommended creating a genderless, ageless character similar to the Microsoft Clippy character instead. Furthermore, they recommended making it obvious how to re-take the tutorial at some later stage, and to take them to the Homepage at the end of the tutorial with the icons activated for the concepts discussed.

In the third iteration, we added a new character based on the Facebook icon, Fifi. Fifi focuses less on “fun things you can do” and more on how to educate the user on “useful” things to do on the platform. The screen flow mostly stayed the same but the team added some colour. Here’s how it looked:

NewUserOnboarding3rdIteration

Third iteration operative image

We then previewed the screen flow to our classmates and requested their feedback.  They seemed sceptical that senior users were actually using Facebook on their phones, whereas our research showed seniors mainly use touchscreen devices for accessing Facebook.

We concluded it would be wonderful to actually show some senior users our ideas and get feedback from them! The team cited our biggest lessons learned as, first, ask the client questions until you understand the expectations, and second, just commit “something” to an operative image to get that creative tension started. Hopefully our designs are inspirational to the expert research team as they continue their grant work.

Thanks a lot to my classmates for a valuable collaboration. The final paper describing the project is available here.

Reference:

Porter, J., 2008. Designing for the Social Web. Berkeley: New Riders.

TIA 130 Research Methods

Bar chart of data preprocessing results

89% of the data was screened out of the analysis!

The project for this course was to design a research project and perform a structured, yet not systematic literature review for the paper. I called a friend who owns a local start-up in town and asked whether there was any data I could analyse for him. He wanted better insights into the app store reviews to help him and his team shape their product roadmap.

His initial guidance to me was quite general: the study should be “exploratory in order to learn what kind of features a good review are bringing up, and to find correlations between certain product features and satisfaction.”

My research questions first sought to find any best practices in terms of analysing app store reviews, then dug into specifically which questions I wanted to answer with the statistics I would come up with.  I received a year’s worth of Apple and Google app store data  to analyse.

My findings were proprietary so I can only generalise here and I can’t upload the entire paper:

  • Most of the time spent for the data analysis was in the “data preprocessing” activity, namely cleansing the data according to given criteria, weeding out suspected “spam,” picking out when the reviewer might be discussing a certain feature, and assigning this portion of the review to that feature. I was only one researcher and did not have the benefit of any software to help me with this.
  • 15% of Apple data and 89% of Google (Android device) data was excluded during the preprocessing phase.
  • The client’s app store data was consistent with what was reported in the literature: Generally the ratings were four- or five-stars, longer reviews tended to be negative, and Apple reviews were of a higher quality (i.e. much less suspected spam or other reasons to screen out) compared to the Google reviews.
  • Apple customers mentioned more specific features in their reviews but Google customers offered suggestions more often.
  • I created 42 possible features to code against. Apple users had about 85% of their comments toward six features, and Google Android users did the same over the top 14 features.

I delivered basic descriptive statistics to the client team (i.e. means and standard deviations) for each research question in a presentation and they found it really helpful. Future research in this topic should definitely explore automation and additional researchers to help code the feature mentions neutrally.