TIA 132 Digital Tools for Communication and Learning


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:


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:


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:


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.


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.


MetaMOOC Modules v1

Based on the feedback from 16 December 2019 I commenced the design of my assigned modules. In the MURAL storyboard of this version you can see these design elements:

  • I have retained the constructive alignment approach of matching the learning objective with an assessment
  • I added a black circle with a capital A to show where the assessment activity screens are
  • I retained the green indicators for what type of content will be on the page: Discussion, HTML, Video, or Problem. These are the four content types available in edX Studio
  • As in the “greenfield” design, I included a photo of my mind map or the original commitments of thought to paper, which I did before starting with any digital storyboarding.

The next design review is planned for 30 January 2020.

Comments and redirection from 5 December 2019 design review

After the entire BLS team had a chance to absorb the deliverables from the 5 December meeting, we had a small session on 16 December 2019, with two pedagogical project leads to discuss their reactions.

The most significant bit of feedback was that the team had already wedded in their minds to the existing design they had put together in edX Studio. I had been under the impression that this was just a concept and they would be willing to consider a fresh approach. It became clear in this session that I am given leeway to only design two modules and include these into what already exists: Prepare for course production: Process overview and Course Design.

They outlined what the original design intents of the “primer” course were:

  • The learners can be: new MOOC instructors, teaching assistants or new BLS team members, however the MOOC instructor is the priority.
  • The learner should have no idea at all of what a MOOC is previously
  • The level of detail should be sort of like a “studiebesök” (study visit) taster
  • The learner should need no more than two hours to complete it
  • Content should be suitable to use as a reference later
We agreed that many of the ideas in my first design were consistent with what the team had drafted in edX Studio, however my first design would definitely take longer than two hours to complete.
The meeting concluded with a commitment to design the given modules, with a view to designing a second, longer “Onboarding” e-learning and potentially design workshop agenda once this was completed.


First design review 5 December 2019

The team and I that I would present my findings and an initial concept at a meeting 5 December 2019.

Accordingly, I prepared this presentation to guide the discussion. It summarises all of my findings from the survey, edX materials, and the literature review into the ADDIE model for challenges, best practices and benchmarks.

Stubbs, Martin and Endlar (2006) recommend that any learning design team should establish a set of course design principles which are more or less inviolable. This seems like a sensible recommendation for any design project! Therefore I drafted some Design Principles for discussion:

  • Support a 70/20/10 approach for the learner.
  • Employ the constructive alignment design approach consistent with edX’s format. The learning activities will always be designed to drive project deliverables forward, not necessarily to purely demonstrate comprehension.
  • Support the learner at each stage of the project just-in-time, with an appropriate balance of immediately relevant content, followed by an activity.
  • Be informed by literature, the experience of ChalmersX veterans, and edX best practices.
  • Prioritise use of existing materials from EdX, either in original form or repurposed.
  • Include decision “gateways” when the instructor is explicitly asked for commitment to continue to the next stage of the project.

During the meeting, we ran out of time to explicitly agree on these and there still seems to be some disagreement on prioritising use of existing materials from edX, which I need to work out before moving to the prototype phase.

I presented first design concept using the MURAL tool, which was based purely on my readings as a “greenfield design.” We reviewed the concept at the meeting but ran out of time to discuss it in detail. One very important thing I tried to do here is leverage the same constructive alignment learning design as edX promotes. This approach requires a very well-defined learning objective and some type of “exercise” or activity which activates the learner to demonstrate comprehension.

There were some key members of the BLS team who could not attend, so we agreed they would review the materials and we would discuss them at our next meeting. We also agreed we would work together on a weekly basis, when I will sit in the team’s office.

Clarifications and recommendations gathered during this meeting:

  • A major learning objective of the Onboarding phase is for the instructor to experience the culture of designing and producing a MOOC.
  • The “Design problem” is to spread out production effort more smoothly and evenly rather than the customary chaos today, which increases closer to the go-live date.
  • Using the ADDIE taxonomy makes sense for the literature review. The thesis supervisor recommends to contrast the literature with what the survey results say in each section so contrast literature with ChalmersX real life.
  • Make more clearly that the MetaMOOC Onboarding supports the learner up to the end of the Onboarding phase, we would need another course for the rest.
  • They don’t see requiring edX 101 course during the Onboarding phase as any conflict.
  • Instructors actually want MORE templates and firm guidelines about what to do! In the past the BLS team has taken a “respectful” approach but this hasn’t worked very well.
  • They were fine with using MURAL for storyboarding.
  • The thesis supervisor recommends also to include the Stanford exercise library as a resource at some stage.
  • The team recommends as a prework activity to creating the course outline, to have the instructor research existing content offered by others in their field. We can also do this to help the instructor get over the common “writer’s block.”


Stubbs, M., Martin, I. and Endlar, L. (2006). The structuration of blending learning: putting holistic design principles into practice. British Journal of Educational Technology, 37 (2): 163–75.

MetaMOOC: Documenting the Literature Review and Survey Results

After the 3 November 2019 meeting I did the following to expand my understanding of first, the experiences of ChalmersX instructor veterans and second, how well did this correspond to trends I could find in the literature.

The instructor veterans had several suggestions but the most common challenges expressed were:

  • Understanding the expectations of them before commencing the project, including the time commitment
  • Editing a 50-minute lecture into the short video format expected in the xMOOC format
  • Discomfort in front of a camera
  • Designing a suitable course structure and plan when they had never experienced a MOOC as a student themselves
  • Insecurity about creating good exercises, the time and creativity required to do so
  • A desire for firmer guidance and project management, even a “how to get started guide.”

I began my literature review by considering these questions:

1. What are the typical challenges of transition or redesigning classroom instruction to fit a MOOC or e-learning experience?
2. What are some proven best practices of onboarding instructors to MOOC?

Then used GU library Supersearch with the following criteria:

Any field contains challenge AND Any field contains redesign AND Any field contains classroom AND Any field contains MOOC
SCOPE: Default / Everything
Publication Date: 10-YEAR; Publication type: Articles ;Publication type: conference proceedings ;Publication type: newspaper articles ;Language: English

This produced enough results that I selected a few good papers, read these, and selected papers referenced in them. As of January 2020 I need to read a bit more, but so far I have considered approximately 25 publications.

None of the papers used an established theoretical framework to structure the ideas– rather they used more of a project management mindset, often collecting ideas under headings of: motivations for creating a MOOC, preparing, developing, delivering, and evaluating. I chose the ADDIE model as a good framework for collecting ideas. You can see here how I am documenting my literature review and cataloguing ideas for both challenges and best practice suggestions. See the tabs Challenge Framework, Best Practice Framework, and Benchmarks to see how I am organising the ideas and from which sources they came.


MetaMOOC project at ChalmersX: Initial Concept

If you can’t tell from the edX courses I have been documenting in this portfolio, I am exploring the idea of becoming a learning designer. At the same time I’m studying, I’ve been working as a Training Manager at an automotive company, which I was hoping would lead to a good project to study for my Master’s Thesis. Unfortunately there was no suitable learning technology project available so I approached Chalmers Learning Services to inquire whether there was a project I could become involved with. Chalmers University has currently successfully delivered over 20 MOOCs on the edX platform.

We agreed after a couple of discussions (18 Sep 2019, 3 Nov 2019) that I could assist with the design of what the Blended Learning Services (BLS) team is terming a “MetaMOOC” course, which would be delivered on the edX platform. This course is intended to be a primer for new MOOC instructors and project team members, to help them understand how MOOCs work, what is expected of them in such a project, and to give them a “feeling that this is do-able.”

At the 3 November meeting we agreed that the problem statements were:

1. Onboarding educators to an online learning solution and
2. Translating classroom learning to an online environment

I requested that BLS send me the results of a survey the team had sent out earlier in 2019 as well as any method templates the team was generally using. I committed to bring to the next meeting:

  • A summary of initial literature review as well as any conclusions from the survey results
  • A proposed workplan

I received the survey results and a standard edX presentation on how to run a course Design Workshop. I prefer not to upload these documents because they are not licensed for sharing.

Editing with Camtasia: it’s a journey

It’s “good enough for now!”

This week we had to storyboard and shoot a video. I chose to do one for my final assignment and on further reflection it was a good first attempt but I’ll have to re-do it later.

For interest, here is what I planned with the storyboard. It was a good exercise to do the storyboard because it forced me to think about what I would do and say rather than just “winging it.”

The learning objectives are:

  1. The student will evaluate, based on a demonstration of defined features, whether LinkedIn is the right tool for him or her to create a digital transcript or learning history.
  2. Based on the evaluation, the student will have enough information to proceed to the final assignment or review another tool.

I wanted to experiment with Screencast-o-matic so I recorded the video with that, you’ll see the watermark. Then I edited it in Camtasia, adding some transitions and cutting out a lot.

For my next attempt, I want to re-record using a generic LinkedIn profile (not my own) and rehearse more than once so that the video isn’t so long. Right now it is 10 minutes and I need it to be half that. Also I need to figure out how to get the starter image I have set up to be the one that appears when you see the video, not some random screen in the middle of the video.

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Week 3: Alt text and manipulating images

Powerpoint screen steps to curve text

OMG did you know how to curve text using Powerpoint? NOW I do!

For this week’s assignment I created a flyer for a work event we have coming up this Friday. It’s a team-building meet-and-greet following the Swedish tradition of afternoon coffee and cake, or “fika.” We have three teams, one of which is new, who will need to collaborate closely in the future. Currently they sit in two buildings so it’s helpful if they can meet face-to-face until the facilities are renovated and they can sit together.

Here you can see my flyer: Invitation to Fika this Friday

I did so much image mashing from Pixabay, using both Snag-It and Powerpoint. First I got this picture of delicious cake and coffee but I would prefer to have whipped cream on it. I separated the white whipped cream from another picture, removed the background and pasted it in the photo, all in Snag-It. The colouring sadly doesn’t match the photo too well but maybe with Photoshop I could work on that. Also for the coffee bean background, I downloaded an image of brown coffee beans, made them grey, and blurred them in Snag-It.

For my logo, I took an icon with several images from Pixabay, cropped out the ones I wanted and changed the colour from black to dark blue. In Powerpoint, I learned how to curve text around the image! This is a life-changing skill and I was really excited! I then added a border, a text box and my Creative Commons license.

I used the Accessibility checker in Powerpoint to add alt text and control the order of when it would be read. The alt text doesn’t render when you simply mouse over it. Finally I created a PDF out of the entire thing but the alt text does not work not work unless you download it, open in Adobe Acrobat and select View-> Read Out Loud.

Please see the Digital Media Checklist for this assignment here.

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

Optional attributions from Pixabay:

Image by Lolame from Pixabay

Image by haidi2002 from Pixabay

Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay

Week 2: Digital Transcript Comparison Matrix

comparison matrix of digital transcripts

First version of the matrix for fully-sighted learners

This week’s assignment is to create an educational visual aid, incorporating aspects of good visual design. You can view my submission here.

I chose to refine a concept for my original signature assignment idea about lifelong digital transcripts. This would be an asset which is available for the student to download and print out once my video explains the different features of digital CVs. I used Microsoft PowerPoint to create this asset because I am comfortable with this tool and can compose documents easily with it.

The first matrix generally follows the example in the picture although I have also a set of written directions at the top. Once I evaluated it critically, I wanted to make it more obvious what the learner is meant to do without having to read the instructions, so I added the 1, 2, 3 and the arrows for the steps. I was going for clarity of what is expected from the learner and thought the red, yellow, green would be very obvious that these are “traffic light” ratings of that feature for that tool. I added texture to the traffic light ratings to make them more visually attractive.

Visual design elements: The first one leverages line, shape, colour, and texture.

Visual design principles: I believe I incorporated unity, balance, and similarity.

After completing the first matrix, I considered that colour-blind people would have difficulty distinguishing the red from the green buttons. I then added the black and white icons instead, with black equivalent to green and white equivalent to red. Is this obvious? Could I remove the instructions? PowerPoint also has an Accessibility check and it said my grey text boxes were difficult to read, so I changed them to black with white text for more contrast. The check also said I needed to add the ability to have the text boxes read out, although I’m not sure how well this would work when transferring over to pdf.

After showing this to some classmates I got feedback that they preferred the accessible version, but they didn’t understand what the circles meant. Also they didn’t find the column where you had to mark an X useful. My teacher said, “accessible design means it becomes better for everyone!” So here we have DigitalTranscriptComparisonMatrixV2.

We also have a requirement to evaluate our artifact using our digital media checklist. Please see here for my self-evaluation.

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This matrix document is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.