Project Stuff and User Studies

  • Jun 21, 2012
  • 1 Comment


This week I started off with editing a few aspects of my proposal, and making some worlds for the User Study that I was helping conduct on Thursday.  I had various restrictions to abide to, so it took some thinking to start creating compelling examples.  I couldn’t use any getPart functions,  add details or custom numbers, which limited me to only moving full characters around.  I did manage to come up with some examples, and Kyle and I narrowed down the specific ones we liked best.  I then made a few minor changes to them to make them more user-study-friendly.  We also had an extensive meeting about everyone’s project proposals, which lasted most of Tuesday, but I did get to start thinking about the changes/additions proposed to me in the meeting.  

Wednesday I thought more about my project; took notes, made sketches, made some lists, etc.  Specifically, I started making a list of aspects, actions, trends we should track in the “user model” that Kyle suggested.  I spent some time working with the Looking Glass software, trying to find every part of it that a user could interact with, the normal things like do togethers and move actions, but also things like object or camera markers, listeners, arrays, or variables.  And I liked the idea of the user model tracking other factors, like how often they’ve used something, or when it was last used.  So if a user has seen how to use a count loop before, but the user model tracks that they haven’t used it in a while, and are instead repeating blocks of code, the tutorials could reintroduce the count loop.

I also thought a bit about how to make the tutorials more interesting.  I researched this, and looked into various ways of interactive teaching.  I thought of instead of focusing so much on text, maybe using more images in the process, or giving more examples of what code could look like.  Personally, I learn best through examples, so this idea seems intuitive to me, but I’m not sure about how middle-schoolers might view it.  Other ideas for tutorials included making it into a game somehow, or some sort of puzzle to solve.  I think people might pay more attention that way.  So instead of just having the blocks of code to drag in in order, perhaps the order would not be specified, and users would have to arrange the puzzle to get the correct order (like Caitlin suggested).  Or I thought that there could be several code blocks at each step, and only one would be right, and users would have to find the correct one to do the described action.  This would have to be at higher levels though, once users understand the basic concepts, and can ascertain what code does before they play it. Perhaps the “test” structure would help kids learn more.  Instead of just mindlessly following steps, they’d be required to think about which action to choose and why, thereby learning something….hopefully.  It works in school, right?  Just the content of some of my random ideas/sketches.  I also modified the User Test worlds again on Wednesday, to get rid of some complications they could cause in the study.

Thursday I spent getting ready for, and actually doing the User Study.  I think that this experience was extremely helpful.  I really got a feel for what concepts kids know, can figure out, and have trouble with.  I realized I was still not exactly thinking form the user perspective in my designing, and I feel that this experience was a real eye opener.   Kyle and I had a meeting afterward about changes we need to make to the Remix/Tutorial process before the next User Study on Monday, and I started working on some of these issues, so that the next trial will be able to progress smoother.  I am looking forward to the User Testing on Monday.  I find that I rather liked the process, and think that they will be continually beneficial in my efforts to make Looking Glass easier for kids to understand through the personalized tutorials.



  • caitlin

    caitlin said:

    <p>I'm happy to hear that the user study was helpful; I was hoping that would be the case! It can be hard to really envision what younger users are like without seeing them. Once you get to see a few you start building your own internal model of a user that you can use to imagine how different interface designs would or wouldn't work out.</p> <p>I'm really intrigued by the notion of trying to formulate our tutorials as puzzles. Assembling parts might be one way. Scrambled code might be another. It feels like this could be a useful place for some brainstorming at all the different levels we envision.</p>

    Posted on Jun 22, 2012

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