SLIS 298: Week 2 – User Experience Basics

So as it turns out, the agenda for this week has changed – the professor does want to follow the UX-heavy schedule I set last week, but we’re taking a time out this week to put together writeups on personas, heuristic evaluations and use cases. These reports include:

  • A simple, one sentence definition of your concept;
  • An elevator pitch (an extended definition with a brief description about the concept);
  • Some research on the concept (contributed to the group’s Zotero library) and a summary of the pros and cons and what researchers say
  • An outline of how putting this concept into practice this semester might be helpful and how to make it work.

I’m assigned personas, which is a little bit of a review for me, but it’s useful to catch up on current thought in the field (although it hasn’t changed much since I studied them last fall). It is a good experience in writing it up to be consumed by someone who doesn’t have the background I do, though – so far this semester looks like it may be a lot more about co-teaching than actually doing the UX work I put on the schedule, which is different than I expected but not bad.

Update: after Google Hangout with Linda, 6/20

I’m going to update the schedule to reflect what we talked about, including divvying up work instead of working collaboratively which would allow us to push forward with the schedule we’ve set.

Week 4, next week:

  • We’ll each provide a deliverable based on our research from this week, week 3
  • I’ll suggest a Google hangout to review/provide feedback, and by the end of the week we should be ready to perform the heuristic eval and write testing tasks
  • I’ll share Personas document, team schedule and any other deliverables with Linda

Week 5:

  • We’ll each perform heuristic evaluation
  • One person will write up testing tasks, one will recruit and one will put together a plan for how tests are conducted
  • At the end of the week (Sunday), we’ll be ready to conduct a pilot test with Linda

Week 6:

  • Conduct testing

Ideas for a product/article:

  • different models of interaction in an online learning environment
    • leader
    • follower
    • quiet worker
    • different learning styles
    • how the instructor’s interaction makes a difference
  • education “startup” feel
    • sense of hurry, urgency
    • following a development model
    • usability in education
    • carving out a “space” in academia

Jolicloud, for those who have a BUNCH of cloud services in their PLN

Thought this might be a useful tool for anyone else who’s using multiple cloud services in their personal and professional lives:


I’m going to give it a try – let me know if you are too, and how you like it!

A totally different kind of online learning

I live in Melrose, which is a small city about seven miles north of Boston. I’m fine, my whole family’s fine, and so far I don’t think anyone I know was touched by any of this week’s tragedies – except for the fact that we live in greater Boston and were so scared for, now proud of, our city.

But what I want to write about today is my experience of the way some of the tools we’ve talked about in this class – Twitter especially, but also blogs – have been and are being used to disseminate information during events like the Boston marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt.

My husband and I don’t have cable TV – we have a Roku box for our streaming services, but we can’t watch live television, so we were pretty much glued to the radio this last week. On Monday, when everything started, and then on Friday, when neither of us could go to work, we sat in our living room with the radio on, a live newsfeed on mute on the computer, refreshing Twitter on both of our phones every 30 seconds and reading any new-seeming piece of news out loud along with where it came from. This last piece was especially important: was it a news source, was it someone on-scene being retweeted, or was it just someone totally unrelated to the event declaring something. Twitter was often minutes, if not hours, in front of other news sources in terms of circulating new pieces of information, but it was also much, MUCH more likely to get all excited about some new piece of information that was just speculation or, in some cases, completely made up, sometimes by a news source. While it felt to us like a lifeline, a window into what was ACTUALLY happening, we quickly had to come up with our own system for trying to assess the credibility of sources and the information they were reporting. That said, we also saw well wishes from all over the world – New York, Syria – that were really meaningful, as well as remembrances of people who had been hurt or lost their lives that helped us remember the big picture of what the city was going through.

When the evening rounds of gunfire started in Watertown, we went over to my aunt and uncle’s house to watch their TV – we could tell it was coming to a conclusion, and we wanted to see it on TV and experience it with family. The visual seemed really important, as did being with people we cared about. So we sat in front of the TV talking about all we’d seen and read that day  and making a story for each other- how the FBI had interviewed the older brother in 2011, how his boxing coach said the younger brother looked up to his older brother so much. But my husband and I grew impatient with the recycled images on TV and with the loopy commentary from tired newscasters (at one point, a newscaster said it wouldn’t be long until the “knucklehead” at large would be in custody), and turned to Twitter – my family eagerly listened as we reported what was happening on-scene far before the newscasters got wind of it. By that point, we were both following the feeds we knew to be credible and could be pretty confident in their accuracy. Nothing could beat watching Watertown celebrate on-camera, though, or the fireworks we could hear after we turned the TV off.

Now that the climax has passed and everyone has the opportunity to piece together their own version of events, blog entries by people who knew the bombers, or at least about them –  classmates, a girl who went to their mom’s living room spa for years, an anonymous FBI aide frustrated that Russia had warned them in 2011 and no one had kept track – are pouring out of the woodwork. For me, they paint a picture of a scared 19-year-old heavily influenced by his older brother, but there’s a lot out there I haven’t read that probably says something different – people could get any number of things from these accounts, more of which are showing up in my newsfeed by the hour.

Overall, I think the use of social media to receive and disseminate up-to-the-second news information will ultimately replace TV and radio during events like this in the future, but this will only happen successfully as news consumers learn to cull the credible from the speculative and exclamatory. I also think some Republican senators should think more carefully when they tweet during a crisis, but that’s neither here nor there. In terms of how communities process tragedy, that’s necessarily a little murkier, but for me the blog posts about how Dzhokar was polite to his friends’ families, spent a whole night helping a girl retrace her steps to find the new cellphone she’d lost and moved his mom’s customer’s car so she wouldn’t get a parking ticket have an important humanizing effect.

Transformative Learning: Critical Thinking + Discourse

The question posed for this week’s blog reflection, “Does Learning 2.0 as an organizational/personal learning tool support or align with the theory of transformative learning?”, had special meaning for me while reading Mezirow’s chapter. My Learning 2.0 group, Literacy and Students Learning 2.0, have been in discussion with our site liaison about how to focus our program on the needs of the intended audience, which include a number of native Spanish speakers who are at the library participating in an ESL program as well as many of their tutors. The site liaison has mentioned that many of these users have very little experience with – and potentially some fear of – the technology we’ll be introducing them to.

As a (relatively) young person, an early adopter and someone who works on a development team, I tend to assume that most others in my field share my comfort with technology, so considering how to create a program for the intended audience has been something of a transformative learning experience in and of itself. In reading Mezirow’s chapter on “Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice,” I thought a lot about how crucial it is that we create a transformative learning experience for these users. One quotation in particular jumped out at me:

Thinking as an autonomous and responsible agent is essential for full citizenship in democracy and for moral decision making in situations of rapid change. The identified learning needs of the workforce implicitly recognize the centrality of autonomous learning. – Mezirow, p.7

In creating this program, we’re trying to provide these users with the skills necessary to be autonomous and responsible in environments that will require their contextual understanding of technologies like email and social media. That includes one environment the site liaison has made explicit – the job market, which Mezirow calls out multiple times as valuing the outcome of transformative learning – as well as the larger environment of their communities and the country as a whole, where they need these skills to fully participate.

This audience’s current frame of reference includes relatively little knowledge of the potential of technology to open those kinds of doors for them, and potentially includes a fear of their inability to use it in ways that would be expected of them. My hope is that we can create a participatory and ultimately  transformative learning experience for them that will shift this frame of reference and introduce these users to a larger context in which to understand their own and others’ interactions with these technologies. So my hope is certainly that the Learning 2.0 framework can align with the theory of transformational learning.

That said, another quotation from Mezirow also jumped out at me:

There is an egregious assumption that the acquisition of knowledge or attainment of competencies will somehow automatically generate the understandings, skills, and dispositions involved in learning to think autonomously. – Mezirow, p.9

Mezirow writes often of the role discourse plays in making the leap between acquiring knowledge and integrating it into one’s frame of reference in a way that will “generate the understandings, skills, and dispositions” necessary for learning to really be transformative, for someone to learn to think autonomously. My concern is that for someone who’s unfamiliar with the technologies we want to teach, the potential for each one as a platform for discourse may be unclear and we may not be able to provide the opportunities for discourse required for a truly transformational learning experience. My hope, though, is that through clear explication and consistent engagement and encouragement, we can at least provide the window in which that kind of a learning experience could occur.



where the ideas are

Another work post.  And on a Friday, no less!  Internet forgive me.

I’m writing today after a slight dip in internet productivity because one sentence from my last post has been just digging deeper and deeper into the center of my mind:

I wish I could figure out how to get to where the ideas are.

An interesting result of a google image search for “where the ideas are”:

Sort of an animal lover's version of Escher.

Obviously, Google is at the center of the labyrinth of ideas.  Basic level: intuitive berry picking as the foundation of information access.  Larger picture: everything in the cloud, copyright (and sometimes privacy) bedamned.

As Ned Potter explains in this gloriously short presentation (also, sweet app dude), librarians are no longer “gatekeepers of knowledge” (which inherently implies a hierarchy of users who, depending on the librarians’ whims, may or may not deserve access to the information they’re seeking – I seen it) and have to be more like Gandalf, sort of freezing the water as it comes out of the firehose so that people don’t explode when they try to drink it.  Made that one up myself, guys!

Enough jargon.  Basically, I am on an intellectual quest to find

where the ideas are.

Oh, is it here? PSYCH! Just a baby and David Bowie.

I feel significantly closer after a library meeting yesterday where we discussed Amy Edmonson’s Strategies for Learning from Failure.  The central concept is, as it was at NETSL, will be at MLA next week, and most likely will be in a talk to any group of two or more people in or about a library for the foreseeable future, try ANYTHING but nothing.  And reward for trying, even if it doesn’t work.  While I wasn’t sure what the response would be from the director and assistant director, the round table was overwhelmingly positive, and we were told explicitly that it’s better to own your failure and ask forgiveness than to be hesitant to try.

Basically I took this to mean that I have permission to try new things, and to create my own little space where some ideas are.  I started by putting together my own standing desk (awesome, by the way, especially when I can listen to music out loud and sort of dance a little bit).  It’s a good start, but I will certainly still keeping an eye on John Palfrey, Ned Potter and a few other David Bowies of the biblioblogosphere.

craft horizon

I would say most of the people I know have a secret list of crafts they want to spend an uninterrupted long weekend working on.  On rainy days like today, I dream about locking myself in our yellow guestroom with the most recent episodes of Fringe, or maybe the entire run of Smallville, and just making small brightly colored things.  Here are the ideas I’ve got running around in my head:

pom pom branches

Maybe in pink. Like cherry blossoms!

throw pillows, with animals on them

bear throw pillow

Embroidered with something la Kolb, or maybe Charley Harper

still working on that Blanket Fort.  I’m thinking something like the Rising Sun, just with a lot of bright, not-too-clashy patterns.  Something from Waverly would be PERF for the center.

Found some brightly colored inspiration over at Casapinka!

I keep promising myself a day like the one described as soon as I finish the next assignment – and then the next one.  And then there’s birthdays, Lenten movie nights, game nights, sleepovers – no complaints though.  For SOME reason, I used to think Howard and I didn’t have much of a social schedule after moving to Melrose – we just sat around all day, eating muffins and going to the church thrift store.  But no!  Little did I know, our lives are full of friends and family to do things and, hopefully, eat muffins with.