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Personas and Force maps at the OLDS MOOC design workshop

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Yishay Mor
19 January 2013

When we started designing the OLDS MOOC, we had a workshop with all partners, where we "ate our own dogfood": used some of the various tools and techniques we present in the MOOC to help us design the MOOC

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Jonathan Vernon
8:58pm 22 January 2013


Whatever the exercise you do, whatever activities are employed, if a group of intelligent, goal-oriented people are locked in a room for a few hours they oought to come away with something of value. The 'man hours' are consierable - to do this on your own you may have to say 'I will give a week to personas'. The end result is always eye-opening and revealing but a project manager, even someone in QA needs to see that the personas once developed are used.

Jonathan Vernon
9:18pm 22 January 2013


Scale must come into it - and with scale budget and schedule. Knowledge of what you define as success too - qualified students, retention levels, a satisfaction score, on budget ... even winning awards or industry recognition. And in the commercial sector retaining and developing the client. Contemplation of and assumption is one thing - goung out and interviewing potential target audiences is another, even beta testing ideas with them.

Marie Arndt
9:56am 23 January 2013


I can see this kind of mapping as a very useful tool to identify pros and cons in the kind of environment in which I 'm currently involved: expats fro different parts of the world teaching students from one country and dealing with native institutional hierarchy. Lecturers come with  different mindset not only from each other, but also from the students and native managers. This does cause friction and aggravation, especially if the expertise and experience offered by expat lecturers are not appreciated by the native hierarchy and colleagues. Students may have different priorities than lecturers expect from them, mainly due to cultural context.

The exercise itself , as Jonathan says, is bound to shed some light on this kind of situation if you throw a bunch of intelligent people together. As I've said elsewhere - I can't remember where in the spider's web of strands - it is the sort of activity that suits not only education but also when planning and producing adverts - it's all about knowing your audience and what makes them tick as well as what puts them off.     

Bob Ridge-Stearn
3:22pm 7 February 2013


Just watched all 5 videos.  Thank you very much for sharing the session with us, seeing Force Maps being created is very interesting. 
I think what struck me most was how frustrating I would find the activity if I were a participant in it.  Firstly the management of the activity would have annoyed me and given me quite negative feelings towards it. This was because participants talked over Yoshay’s instructions and some people did not remove their electronic equipment from the tables as requested, resulting in a mess of laptops obstructing views to the paper that the group was supposed to be collectively working on.   
The second thing that I would find frustrating is that the group was divided into smaller groups and each group did the same activities and produced a different force map.  All were different. Were some more ‘correct’ than others? More useful than others?  Were all amalgamated at the end? I don’t suppose so.  Probably the usefulness of the activity was the conversations that took place, but these remained around separate tables.
If I ran the same activity would I bring everyone together at the end and share each other’s maps? No. I don’t think people would have any appetite for a plenary. So how can the whole group benefit? I’m not sure.
When I read about force maps before watching these videos they were graphically interesting and readable representations of the supporting and conflicting forces between the actors and the targets, but seeing what real people with marker pens (as opposed to computerised graphics programs) produce is a little disheartening.  I wonder how useable they are later.
And ‘later’ is the issue.  To spend valuable time getting people together and doing this activity must result in a product that can be used later and when used aid the design process.
I think that this contextualising of the learning landscape is certainly important and I can see what is intended here but I am not convinced (yet) that this is the best way of going about it.  What was the feedback from the participants? Would they have preferred to have spent longer fleshing out personas?  The ones produced weren’t really personas I don’t think, just quick sketches.  Or might they have preferred to work as one large group?  Did they feel frustrated being divided up?  Did anyone ensure that they hadn’t missed out anyone (i.e. an actor)?  I can imagine that it’s all too easy to not get around to creating an important actor.
Can you let us have the timings for each section and whether, in light of this activity, these timings have been revised? 

Just watched all 8 videos.  Thank you very much for sharing the session with us, seeing Force Maps being created is very interesting.

I think what struck me most was how frustrating I would find the activity if I were a participant in it.  Firstly the management of the activity would have annoyed me and given me quite negative feelings towards it. This was because participants talked over Yoshay’s instructions and some people did not remove their electronic equipment from the tables as requested, resulting in a mess of laptops obstructing views to the paper that the group was supposed to be collectively working on.   

The second thing that I would find frustrating is that the group was divided into smaller groups and each group did the same activities and produced a different force map.  All were different. Were some more ‘correct’ than others? More useful than others?  Were all amalgamated at the end? I don’t suppose so.  Probably the usefulness of the activity was the conversations that took place, but these remained around separate tables.

If I ran the same activity would I bring everyone together at the end and share each other’s maps? No. I don’t think people would have any appetite for a plenary. So how can the whole group benefit? I’m not sure.

When I read about force maps before watching these videos they were graphically interesting and readable representations of the supporting and conflicting forces between the actors and the targets, but seeing what real people with marker pens (as opposed to computerised graphics programs) produce is a little disheartening.  I wonder how useable they are later.

And ‘later’ is the issue.  To spend valuable time getting people together and doing this activity must result in a product that can be used later and when used aid the design process.

I think that this contextualising of the learning landscape is certainly important and I can see what is intended here but I am not convinced (yet) that this is the best way of going about it.  What was the feedback from the participants? Would they have preferred to have spent longer fleshing out personas?  The ones produced weren’t really personas I don’t think, just quick sketches.  Or might they have preferred to work as one large group?  Did they feel frustrated being divided up?  Did anyone ensure that they hadn’t missed out an important actor?  I can imagine that it’s all too easy to not get around to creating an important actor and that omission would have serious consequences later.  This is another drawback of a small gorup who may not have complete 'market knoweldge'.

Can you let us have the timings for each section and whether, in light of this activity, these timings have been revised? 

Yishay Mor
7:15pm 9 February 2013


Hi all,

Representing context is also a matter of context.

These representations were developed primarily as forms for communicating design knowledge in participatory design settings. We've used them successfully in a long series of workshops, e.g.:

http://www.ml4d.org/past/wksp2

http://www.ml4d.org/past/ela

Typically, we work in small groups and then have a "poster session" where groups share their maps, stroryboards, etc. with the workshop assembly. People find it rewarding to get feedback on their work and interesting to see the other groups' outcomes, so the poster sessions work very well.

Are these represetnations suitable for individual work? Well, if you consider the view of thinking as "communicating with yourself" (as in http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cqwx8aDfUuQC) then a tool that helps you visualise and externalise your tacit knowledge should also help you structure and scrutinise it.

 

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