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Hweeshan's OLDS MOOC Learning Journal: Week 5 - Quick Reflections

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Tay Hwee Shan
7 March 2013

This week's activities and focus is on prototyping, and again, due to my technical background in software design, it is not an entire new topic for me. In fact, I use software like Microsoft Visio, Balsamiq, and most importantly, Powerpoint, to create interactive mockups for my designs, before implementing them in code. It is therefore encouraging for me to know that these skills I have picked up in technical fields can be applied to Learnign Design so readily.

One thing I would like to highlight, though, is the importance of abstraction when drawing up a prototype. We do not want to be too vague in our descriptions, but yet we must not be caught up in the small details that can be ironed out as the implementation takes shape later in the design process. It is important to identify the key features and the gist of the design, and articulate it well in the prototype without distracting your audience (and yourself) with design details. For this reason, I really like Balsamiq for its "sketchy" feel and focus on functionality rather than design details.

Another important area of prototyping is evaluation, and this is also a skills I could transfer from the field of Human-Computer Interaction, where usability studies are a huge part of the design process. They highlight important human factors that would otherwise be overlooked on the designer's end, and brings up problems that designers may sometimes take for granted. There are many ways to conduct usability studies, and I think a balance combination of both quatitative (e.g. surveys) and qualitative (e.g. interviews, observations) are essential for the a comprehensive evaluation of the design.

Contextually, learners would definitely appreciate that their learning experience has been well thought out and "tried and tested" by fellows learners, rather than getting it "top-down" straight from the designers and facilitators.

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