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Analysing Context: Factors and Concerns

Cloud created by:

Yishay Mor
9 January 2013

This cloud is part of the Personas & Force Maps in Scenarios activity of OLDS MOOC week 2. It is derived from an activity developed for the "Learning Design Studio" section of the OU H817 module “Openness and innovation in elearning” (

The context of learning design can be described along three dimensions: material, social and intentional. We will use these dimensions to describe the factors and concerns of our personas.

  • Material factors include the characteristics of the physical space and the tools and objects which the actors have access to.
  • Social factors include organisational structure, grouping of and relations between various actors, conventions and norms.
  • Intentional factors include the beliefs, desires, motivations, expectations, and mental or emotional barriers of individual actors.

The actors’ concerns are those factors which they wish to effect through the innovation. Some of these are easy to express as learning objectives, but some may be more subtle.

After constructing personas of your target audience, use those to list the factors and concerns in your context. Then, you can use these as a starting point for developing scenarios.

To use the template below, open it in google docs, and make a copy:

 This work by the OU H817 module “Openness and innovation in elearning” (  is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

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added by Yishay Mor


Marie Arndt
7:59am 23 January 2013

Hi Josh and everybody,


I'm going to have to skip this stage, because of lack of time. Will be travelling tonight and will have extremely limited time for the next ten days.



Bob Ridge-Stearn
3:03pm 8 February 2013

Hi Yishay,

I've been looking at Personas and Force Maps and like the idea of both to understand the learning context.  I have 4 quesitons.

1. In the video of the OLDS MOOC tutors creating force maps it seems that you didn’t create full personas, you just sketched out cardboard characters. Do you think that the exercise takes too long if you create proper fully fleshed out personas? Would you say it's not necessary of you go on to create a force map?

2. In the exercise to create the force map you advocate creating personas for all the actors (including tutors, institutions etc - not just students). Should you do this if you are just creating Personas? My understanding was that the personas represented our learners only.

3. I know it's difficult to answer but I wondered how many personas you might expect if you were running an online undergrad course for students all in the UK. 5? 10? 20? My guess is 3 to 5 but that number increases dramatically if all actors are included - e.g. IT staff, elearning technologists, librarians, student support tutors, academic tutors, students, external examiners etc I don’t know where to draw the line.

4. After creating the personas and then moving to the stage of creating a force map you use a template “Analysing Context: factors and Concerns”. Here the user completes factors – material, social and intentional  and then beneath these there is space for the concerns for the personas.  Are you saying that the course (not the personas) display the factors but the concerns are those of individuals?  I can’t see how to use that sheet of paper (that template) to create the force map?  Why not write the factors straight onto the map? 


Bob R-S


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