Assignment 2: Design Precedent Analysis
Designers often work from precedents built-up through direct or vicarious experience with preexisting designs, and configurations of materials and events in the world. These internalized repertoires of designed systems are both forms of expertise/knowledge and a source of innovation that designers and design teams develop over time, which they use to try out the affordances of observed and experienced designs in the context of new problems and situations (Boling, 2010).
To address the OEF Design Challenge to developing mentoring and facilitation design concepts for a next generation mobile learning application, we will conduct a heuristic analysis of two existing learning platforms--KhanAcademy.org and * DIY.org—both to build a reference set of design precedents, and to create a shared visual and verbal vocabulary we can use as a class to describe learning media design patterns and solutions.
*Your team may choose to pick an alternative site for DIY.org
A heuristic is a general “rule of thumb” used to guide the usability testing of a site against an established set of design principles, guidelines, or best practices. Nielsen’s 10 Usability Heuristics for user interface design is a classic now in HCI research. A heuristic mark-up is a lightweight version of this heuristic evaluation technique where a design researcher examines a site relying on their knowledge and experience of good practices, often in combination with an agreed upon set of criteria for analysis. For this activity, you should both review the OEF “vision & values statement” for the project, and bring your developing sense of learning design principles from the readings to bear as you conduct a “learning heuristics markup” of our two design precedent sites.
Part 1 - Familiarize: Explore the sites as an everyday user/learner
DUE: blog post due, 3/31 for class discussion
Approach the two sites imagining yourself as a 9th – 10th grader. Make a mental note of your first impressions and consider if, and how, this learning system might appeal to you and what you might choose to do. Write a short post in the course blog reviewing the two sites and describing them as you would to a school friend.
Part 2 - Assess: Learning Media Heuristic Analysis
Due: 4/5 in class for group presentations, submit final documents by next class
In the second part of this assignment, you will compare and analyze the two sites in terms of different learning criteria, and comment on how your prospective design concepts for OEF may address the learning dimension criteria. To complete this activity, you will need schedule time with your project team to meet. This analysis will draw from the learning values outlined in the OEF Design Challenge, but in this next part of the assignment you must also address if, and how, the two sites utilize instructional strategies defined in the Cognitive Apprentice (2006) reading by Collins. You should add any dimensions for analysis that your group thinks are important coming out of the readings or are relevant to the design challenge.
For this assignment:
As you go conduct your heuristic markup session, please take screenshots at each key step and record notes along the way of the choices, interactions, interface features, language and content elements that are key to framing and guiding your learning experience. Rather than doing an exhaustive content inventory of screen elements, please look for designed feature that are germane to the learning experience in each environment. A PowerPoint-like document is a good way to store your images and observations. (See Fig 1. for an example of a screen mark-up based on usability heuristics).
As a group, you will now need to decide how you want organize and divvy up the workload fairly, and decide on a final presentation format for your analysis to which you can all contribute and edit. You can use the matrix format below as a starting point and framework for your group’s analysis. For your presentation, think about visual ways connect your analysis to snapshots of the features you are describing.
Submit your analysis document before class on Tuesday 4/5, plan to make revisions if needed based on class critique.
Part 3 - Synthesize: Learning Media Best Practices
DUE: 4/7 for review in groups and class discussion, submit after class
Learning Media Best Practices Shortlist
Now review your mark-up screens, cluster like design elements and select 4-5 exemplars that you think represent learning media best practices based on our readings, or clever design solutions that foster learner choice, relevance, engagement, mentoring, collaboration/connectedness, or represent from a system’s perspective an approach that can effectively scale (see OEF definitions for these terms).
*See Fig. 2 for an example layout you could use to communicate your findings and analysis.
Plan to present your markup screens to your team members, and your shortlist of best practices to the class. Submit these files after class as a PDF.
Part 1: Site Explorations & Review >
DUE: 3/31 post comment to blog
Part 2: Comparative Analysis Matrix>
DUE: 4/5 drafts for class discussion
Part 3: Best Practices Heuristic Markup
DUE: 4/7 for group presentation / submit
Grading rubic for the presentation
Table 1. Comparative Matrix
Editable Google Sheet version of heuristic matrix with learning media principles and criteria *If you use this form, please make a copy and save under a new name
Fig 1. Heuristic Markup Screen
Fig. 2 Best Practices Presentation Example