The Breif

‘Blackboard Learn’ is the institute’s Virtual Learning Environment—vle.iadt.ie. Its main purposes are to add online elements to courses traditionally delivered face-to-face, to develop completely online courses with few or no face-to-face meetings and to collate and grade assessments.

The aim of the project is to design and evaluate a paper prototype for a specified part of the Blackboard interface that will address user pain points and will run on an iPad.

The project will provide an introduction to the iterative process of paper prototyping. Although not mentioned in the brief,  the project will also encourage and familiarise students with team based work by making the final submission a group based effort.

The summary of the brief clearly sets out the the key aim of the project, to develop and evaluate a paper prototype for a particular part of ‘Blackboard Learn’. Below are a list of detailed requirements and considerations which must be addressed through the project. Although not specifically called out, I personally would also consider the working and communicating well as a team to be a key requirement.

Requirements

Two (or more) ad-hoc proto personas are to be developed which represent  users of the Blackboard application. The length of time available makes it extremely difficult to carry complete and thorough user research that would be used to inform the user personas. Therefore, ad-hoc personas will be created through a combination of online  research and our own  understanding of the types of people who use Blackboard, given that these will be in the main students, our own class would seem like a likely place to source this information. It is also expected that initial research such as competitor analysis, online reviews and user observations  be carried out.

Using one of these personas a set of common tasks, totalling no less than two will be developed. These tasks are to clearly define and explain the pain points the team is trying to address.
One of these tasks will be used to develop and base a paper prototype on, which will
demonstrate the teams solution of how the application could be (re)designed to provide the desired user experience.

The prototype is then to be evaluated using an appropriate evaluation methodology.

Through out this process each member of the team must write and submit a number of WordPress blog posts summarising the work carried out on the project, the methodology followed, the deliverables produced and a critical analysis of their work and that of their peers.

Key considerations

The problem being tackled must be sufficiently complex to require enough (re)design, but not so complex as to be beyond the scope of the project and feasibility of the time allowed.
An iterative design process, brainstorming possible solutions to the selected problem, refining these solutions into a single prototype and testing that prototype.

There should be one or more design iterations following this initial prototype.

Document and critique this design process in a blog.  Explaining the rationale for the changes from one revision to the next.

The blog should cover the following topics.

  • Problem identification
  • User research
  • Personas
  • Task description
  • Paper prototypes and design iteration
  • Evaluation
  • Reflection on the project (including an appraisal of your own contribution and that
    of your peers). How did the project go? Did the team work well together? What
    problems were encountered? What did you contribute to the project.

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