A Deep Dive Into Structure & Content

November 18th, 2011 by Carmen Dukes | Filed under Teaching.

Great to Be Back

This was my first class since the start of this semester of Project: Interaction. It was great to see some of our students from last year as well as meeting all the new students. Equally awesome was being back at UAI and teaching in tandem with Katie. We were jetlagged from our trip, but excited about another week with our students.

You Went Where!?!?

Katie and I opened the class talking about our trip to Hong Kong. The girls were curious, asking questions about why we went and what sightseeing we did.

Deeper Dive

We started the class revisiting the sitemap the girls had architected last week. We talked through each section and determined the different types of goals users of the site would have. We identified a good set of goals from “Applying to Project: Grow” (Student), to “Checking Attendance” (Parent), to “Updating Class Information” (Teacher).

From there, we challenged the girls to create user stories for how a teacher, student or parent might use the website to accomplish one of the goals we identified. We encouraged them to sketch out all parts of the experience – how the user found out about the site, how they navigated the site and the steps they took to achieve their goal. Katie gladly gave a demonstration of a quick storyboard before letting the girls go off to create their own.

We wanted the girls to sketch quickly, but it didn’t work out that way. They spent more time on the aesthetics of the storyboard, then the story itself. I think this is partially because they have few opportunities to get creative with markers, crayons and colored pencils and such.

The girls presented their storyboards and we were really impressed. Most had great narratives of how a user would navigate the site. One even included the offline interaction that would lead to finding out about the Project: Grow website. A great teacher moment for us.

In a future class, I would like to revisit creative stories and narratives. While some girls got it right away, others simply drew storyboards of one screen to another, leaving out the most important part: the user. Maybe I’ll share some of my favorite comics and an excerpt from Scott McCloud’s book, Understanding Comics, in the next few weeks.

We finished up the class, asking the girls to create a paper prototype of one page from the site. In teams of two, the students used different colored post-it notes to represent the various content types. They were more excited to share these than the storyboards; maybe because this activity was more tangible than the previous one.

While the girls were working, Katie and I revisited the original “brief” we received from the after school program directors. While the girls had nailed most of the work, we realized we may need to include more content just for the girls, as one directive we received was that the site needed to be “girl-friendly.” To that point, we are also missing the social part of a web experience so we will need to talk to the girls about how that can be incorporated into the site. I’m not sure how social they are online, although one of our students mentioned the need for comments on the web.

No Sitting…Or Very Little of It

The girls sat at their desks most of the class and it definitely affected the energy level in the class. We have to remind ourselves that our students have been sitting all day and incorporate “think on your feet” activities to keep them engaged.

We Need More Sketchbook Volunteers

I would really like to see all the girls jumping out of their seats to share their sketchbooks. And I hope to experiment in the next few weeks with some creative ways to motivate them to sketch and share. I’m thinking some kind of game or competition. More thoughts on this to come…

More Surprise

Katie and I are thinking of creating a set of five or so buttons specific to this project. At the end of class, the girls who participated last year asked if we had any new buttons. So we think it would be a nice to include a special set for this class as well.

Next Week…

We are still planning next week’s class, and hope to include some activities that give the girls an understanding of how web pages work. We also hope to come up with a few activities to make the overall project seem more tangible. Briefly we’ve been thinking about making their efforts appear more 3 dimensional and tangible by representing the building of a website and related interactions with blocks, food, or people.

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One Response to “A Deep Dive Into Structure & Content”

  1. […] and I translated the students’ post-it note wireframes into low-fidelity wireframe drawings. We presented the drawings back to them for review. It was […]

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