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Assignment 1 - Design Visualisation and PACT

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106CR Designing for Usability
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Thomas Davies
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2179955
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December 2008
Table of Contents
PACT Analysis! 5

People! 5

Introduction! 5

Foreign Students ! 5

Disabled Students ! 5

Activities! 5

Discovering Lecture Notes ! 5

Mobile Devices ! 6

Information Extraction! 6

Contexts ! 7

Lectures and Library! 7

Private Study - Halls of Residence and Home! 7

Technologies ! 8

Input! 8

Output! 8

Connectivity! 8

Observations! 9

Questionnaires! 9

Taking notes in lectures ! 9

Online Portal! 9

Role of technology in studying! 9

Observations! 9

Lecturers ! 9

Students! 9

Reflection! 10

Persona! 11

Luke Holmes! 11

Design Visualisation and PACT 2


Biography! 11

Studying! 11

Goals ! 11

Reflection! 11

Web Research! 12

Delicious Library - http://www.delicious-monster.com/! 12

Introduction! 12

User Interface! 12

Importing Friends’ Collections ! 13

Schoolhouse - http://www.loganscollins.com/schoolhouse/! 13

Introduction! 13

Assignments! 13

Smart Notebooks ! 14

Classcasts ! 14

Good Ideas! 14

Sharing Information! 14

Barcode Scanning! 14

Reflection! 14

LOSt Design Visualisations! 15

Main Menu! 15

Notes! 15

Lecture Notes! 16

Notes! 16

Searching! 17

Notes! 17

Note Taking! 18

Notes! 18

Transparent Messages! 19

Notes! 19

Feedback on Visualisations! 20

Design Visualisation and PACT 3


Feedback! 20

Main Menu! 20

Searching! 20

Note Taking! 20

Transparent Messages ! 21

Reflection! 21

Appendix! 22

Questionnaire! 22

References! 24

Design Visualisation and PACT 4


PACT Analysis
People

Introduction
UK Students
The people who will be using the system are students of EU Students
the university. All of the students will have many differing Non-EU Students
characteristics that will have an effect on the LOSt
system.
5%5%
Foreign Students

As shown in Figure 1, Coventry University has over 1700


foreign undergraduate students, which equates to 10% of
the university’s population (HESA 2007). Even though
they are required to take the International English
Language Test (IELTS), the students still may have
difficulty understanding specific English terminology
especially as the minimum band requirement at Coventry
University for undergraduates is 6.0 out of 9.0 (Jones 90%
2008). Therefore the system should use simple verb
terms as much as possible, while also ensuring we limit
Figure 1 Student Population (HESA 2007)
the impact of cultural differences in terms of interaction.

Disabled Students

7% of all university students have some form of disability (HESA 2007). Of those disabled, 3% suffer from
visual impairment, being either blind or partially sighted. Braille displays have been useful with simple user
interfaces, yet they fail with more complex systems. A combination of sound and the option to zoom into
specific areas of an application could assist these users. 5% of students are either deaf or have a hearing
impairment. Even though systems are very visual to use nowadays, many important alerts use sound to
highlight its gravitas or urgency. To combat this issue in Mac OS X, the operating system has an option to
flash the screen when something important has occurred (Apple Inc. 2008). The disability that affects the
most however, is Dyslexia, with 43% of students suffering from the disability. With such a significant
percentage of possible affected users, the LOSt system will have to cater for them, with Dix et al. (2004:
389) suggesting a ‘consistent navigation structure and clear signposting’ as well as ‘color coding
information’ to assist these users.

Activities

The objective of the LOSt system is to make it easier for students to organise and utilise all the material
they receive from their lecturers. The constant barrage of information forced on students make it very
difficult for them to maintain a specific organisational structure to assist their learning.

Discovering Lecture Notes

Making the system more automated will allow the students to focus more on their studies rather than
organising notes and other materials. Currently, three of my modules require me to learn three different

Design Visualisation and PACT 5


interfaces just to access the lecture notes. By not sharing a consistent user interface requires students to
spend more time learning several different methods to achieve the same goal.

106CR Designing for Usability 112CR Programming Concepts and Practice 120CT Computer Architecture

Figure 2 Interfaces for downloading lecture notes


If the lecturers are constrained to using just one application, then students would only have to learn one
method to discovering lecture notes. Another possibility is to allow automatic downloading through the
application via RSS, ensuring the information will go directly to the students as soon as it is available.

Mobile Devices

The role of mobile devices in education is rapidly increasing, highlighted by Abilene Christian University’s
use of Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, given free to all freshmen students this year to help with their
studies. Their web applications consisted of campus maps and quizzes that students can complete from
their device (Cox 2008). Though quite an extreme example, ACU’s implementation shows the possibilities of
the full integration of mobile devices in an academic environment. Academic institutions across the globe
have noted the growth of portable media players - especially the iPod - over the last few years and are now
taking advantage of it by making their lectures available to download as both audio and video content,
made popular by iTunes U, a catalogue of free educational material in the iTunes Store. This is especially
true at the University of Wisconsin where they have discovered that students embrace the content by
‘taking it with them on the bus, and on the airplane’ (Dunham 2008).

Information Extraction
30
As shown in Figure 3, lecture notes and presentations
25
are now filled with different types of media. However
it can be difficult for students to find this information 20
later in the course because the information is still 15
restricted to that presentation file. For example, in the 10
first lecture for 106CR, students were asked to 5
Images
purchase the book ‘Designing Interactive Systems’, Video
Charts
0
Books
and with the help of information extraction this task People Info
could be easily simplified. Figure 3 Presentation Content over 8 Lectures

Design Visualisation and PACT 6


Write down the Visit the library
Loan the book
name of the book and search for it

Visit Waterstone's
and buy the book

Write down the


Search for it
prices at different Purchase online
online
online stores

Key Human Involvement Computer Involvement

Shows the
availability at the
library
Automatically Information Student makes
download Extraction decision based on
presentation Process the findings
Compares prices
of online stores /
retail locations

Figure 4 Processes involved in finding a required book

Contexts

Lectures and Library

In the lecture theatre and the library, students are expected to be very quiet so everyone can hear the
lecturer or study in a silent environment. Therefore the LOSt system needs to have an option where sound
alerts can be muted, while visual cues increased. The role of the flashing screen used to help partially
sighted users of Mac OS X could be adapted here to assist students. Moreover, if LOSt had access to the
student’s schedule, then the application could automatically turn off sound alerts while lectures are taking
place.

During lectures, students need to take notes very quickly so they don’t fall behind when the lecturer is
talking. Therefore a very simple and easy to use interface is required for this activity so the student can get
all the notes required.

Private Study - Halls of Residence and Home

During private study the surrounding environment depends on the individual. Certain students require a
quiet environment to study, while others need background noise. A noisier environment however, could
lower the user response of a sound alert, so once again, visual cues and aids could be needed. Compared
to the lecture theatre, private study will be more relaxed and calm allowing for more interaction with the
application thereby increasing the number of features available.

Design Visualisation and PACT 7


Technologies

Input

During lectures, students will need to be able to produce notes and record the lecturer talking. However,
there are not many wall sockets available to students in the lecture theatres so the system will have to be as
efficient as possible to conserve battery power. Yet during private study access to a power source is likely,
suggesting that the potential for the LOSt application can be greater in these circumstances by allowing
access to the Internet and processing increased amount of data during this period.

Output

The main way students will view this information is via their computer displays, and as many students prefer
notebooks over desktop computers the screen size will usually be between 13 and 17 inches. These screen
sizes will be more than adequate for a desktop quality application. The role of audio will play a major part in
the overall system, as lecture notes can be played on students notebooks or via their phone and MP3
players. The use of portable media players can radically change the way people learn and while devices
such as the iPhone can display an array of documents, their restrictive screen size will constrain the uses in
an academic environment.

Connectivity

The issue of connectivity could affect the success of the LOSt system. A connection to the internet will be
required for a significant proportion of time that the student is using the system, and therefore we have to
question whether we can rely on the current wireless network around campus for connectivity.

Design Visualisation and PACT 8


Observations
Questionnaires

Taking notes in lectures

From the questionnaires sent out to students, I discovered that a significant amount did not take notes
during their lectures, rather rely on the lecture slides that are usually published on CUOnline within a few
hours of the class finishing. A small minority of students do take a lot of notes during lectures and use the
presentation slides to assist their personal notes. Another result from the study showed that nearly 80% of
students simply wrote notes down in text format, rather than using graphs or charts. Less than a single
page of A4 is the standard amount of note taking that occurs in an average lecture, while interestingly those
who do not take notes, 60% would like to, yet do not seem able to do so.

Online Portal

For those who do not take notes in lectures, I asked whether it is because the slides are posted online,
however 40% were unsure how to access this material. This is because lectures are using several different
ways to upload and store the files, therefore confusing students.

Role of technology in studying

Linking notes and lecture slides are the students main concern as they can find no decent way to associate
both. Some students use a complicated method involving the standard file system and an array of folders
to sort and organise these notes yet one mistake labeling or placing them in the wrong place could ruin the
entire system. While all students said they used a computer to assist with their learning, only 20% used
other devices such as mobile phones or MP3 players. Moreover, the questionnaire discovered that none of
the respondents had heard of iTunes U, the online educational media catalogue.

Observations

Lecturers

For the majority of lecturers, it is after the lecture has taken place that they upload and make available the
notes and presentation files. However others offer them for download before the lecture so students can
read and preview the upcoming lecture ensuring they are more prepared for the contents. On CUOnline
however, it is not easy to see when the notes have been available as the alert system is quite poor.

Students

The increase usage of PowerPoints for lectures have meant that many students now just sit and listen to
the lecturer talking, believing that just downloading the presentation file later will have all the required
content. This is an issue as the presentation is there simply to assist the lecturer, and therefore the student
will be missing the parts where the lecturer has stressed a particular point or discussed another issue
unmentioned in the presentation file.

A great way to understand a concept is to discover how it is linked with other work from other modules. Yet
by keeping it all on paper, or even in a simple computerised database showing connections with other
modules is very difficult. Utilising automation could solve this issue as it can easily show related content,
not just from other modules but from the internet as well.

Design Visualisation and PACT 9


Reflection

I believe observations are a better way to understand how users interact with technology because we can
directly see what they are doing. In an interview or if they are filling out a questionnaire the user may forget
certain processes they have to go through to accomplish a task. Moreover, observing users lets us see
what happens when they are confronted with a problem showing us whether they have a specific work
around - suggesting it is a reoccurring fault - or if they simply ignore it.

Using questionnaires as a way to gather information is a very cheap and easy method compared to others.
To create and send out, the cost - both financially and time wise - is quite minimal, yet we have to factor in
that not all people will complete the questionnaires. For example, 20% of students who were sent the
questionnaire did not return them, yet for this project an 80% return rate was more than suitable. Another
issue with questionnaires is that we are unable to ask follow-up questions, which effected the following
question ‘Would you like to write notes in these lectures?’ For this question, I would have liked to ask what
would help them start writing notes.

Design Visualisation and PACT 10


Persona
Luke Holmes

Biography

Luke is 18 years old and a first year undergraduate at Coventry University


reading English Literature. He achieved a grade C in his GCSE ICT short
course, and this is his only computing related qualification. However, he has
used a Windows based machine for several years and therefore has moderate
computer skills. Along with a mobile phone, Luke carries an iPod nano with
him at all times and occasionally listens to podcasts as well as his music
collection. Though seemingly tech savvy, he still feels embarrassed if he
needs to ask his friends for help when using software and therefore
appreciates it to be simple and easy to use, allowing him to focus on achieving his goals.

Studying

At university, Luke has a £400 Windows based laptop with a battery life of 3 hours. In his flat, Luke uses his
laptop several hours a day, but rarely takes it to lectures as he is worried about running out of battery in the
middle of a lecture. Currently he takes notes down in the lecture and aims to write them up that evening,
though sometimes this is not the case. When researching online, Luke bookmarks websites in Firefox, yet
soon forgets about them because they are not connected with his notes.

Goals

His overall goal is to be a distinguished author before he retires, and he believes achieving a 1st class
degree at Coventry University will be a step in the right direction.

Reflection

Using personas can be useful as it allows us to visualise our intended audience, ensuring we focus on their
needs. It can be very easy to lose focus and not consider users abilities on computers and whether or not
they like interacting with technology. For this project we are quite lucky that our intended user group - with
a few exceptions - are more than likely going to be competent computer users having grown up with
technology devices all around them. However by showing specific user frailties such as Luke’s reluctance to
ask for help ensures we consider usability a prime concern.

We do however, have to make the persona specific because ‘they should be focused on the behaviors and
goals related to the specific domain of a product.’ (Goodwin 2001) while generic personas will lack focus,
concentrating on other factors. For example, it is mentioned that Luke has an iPod nano to suggest he
enjoys having his music collection with him, and that he has experience interacting with other devices yet
discussing his music tastes or the size of his collection would be irrelevant to this project.

Design Visualisation and PACT 11


Web Research
Delicious Library - http://www.delicious-monster.com/

Introduction

This application is a digital catalogue system for books, games, DVDs and
more. Delicious Library aims to keep track of the user’s media by providing
a section dedicated to loaning parts of their collections out to friends.
Rather than forcing users to add all the details manually, Delicious Library
will search Amazon to get the information such as price, genres and
reviews. This process is made simpler by utilising the iSight cameras on Macs
to scan in the barcodes from user’s media collection.

User Interface

Delicious Monster - the software house behind the library application - has won 2 Apple Design Awards for
its product, which has a distinctive, yet controversial user interface. The library displays the collections on
realistic shelving from wood to cork board to emphasize the connection with the real life objects.

Simple groupings
iSight barcode scanning

Graphical representation Realistic shelving


of media collection

Figure 5 Main interface of Delicious Library

Design Visualisation and PACT 12


Importing Friends’ Collections

Delicious Library also provides a way to share the collection with friends, by automatically creating a
website with the user’s collection. If other friends are using the application then the user can import their
lists and always have access to their collections.

User's details

Detailed view of Collection contents


an item

Figure 6 Online version of a user’s library

Schoolhouse - http://www.loganscollins.com/schoolhouse/

Introduction

Made by a independent developer, Schoolhouse is a dedicated educational


organisation tool. Users can add Notes, which allows them to add their
own lectures notes to the database, while Grades provides a way for
students to graphically see their progress throughout the course.

Assignments

Users can add assignments and projects to keep all related documents together. Assignments can also
be broken up into smaller tasks, each with their own due dates to assist the student with keeping on
schedule. Moreover, it connects with the Address Book so users can add fellow students to a specific
group assignment.

Design Visualisation and PACT 13


Smart Notebooks
Name of the Notebook
In Mac OS X, smart folders are very
popular because they automatically sort
documents according to pre-defined
rules. In Schoolhouse, they are called
Smart Notebooks and can have rules such
as specific due dates as well as
containing specific keywords or tags.

Classcasts A rule for the Can add more


notebook rules if needed
This feature allows the user to publish a
Figure 7 Smart Notebooks in Schoolhouse
specific assignment to the web, allowing
others to subscribe to it. This is quite effective for their peers because any alterations in the assignment will
automatically alert the subscribers, keeping everyone up-to-date.

Good Ideas

Sharing Information

Both applications can share the user’s information with their friends, and I believe this could be a good
feature for LOSt! The Classcasts feature is very good, but it has not been fully developed to make it useful
for all students. If a group of students have an assignment to complete then having remote access to all of
the project’s files and documents is essential to a successful completion. The Classcasts implementation in
Schoolhouse is one-way, meaning only one student can edit the assignment. Yet if all project members
could add to the assignment then they could limit the amount
of group sessions required, and focus more on the actual
work.

Barcode Scanning

Using an integrated camera on a laptop for barcode scanning


will save students significant amount of time searching and
organising their loans and book collections. It can be quite
difficult for students to know which books they have and this
feature would be a simply way for them to keep track, as well
as recommend related books to further their studies.

Figure 8 Barcode scanning in Delicious


Library

Reflection

Web research can play a significant role in shaping our interface and interaction designs as we can
appreciate how other companies are solving the same issues. For example, reviewing lecture notes can be
considered quite boring, yet I learnt from the Delicious Library application that an exciting interface can
make a dull subject more engaging. Researching Schoolhouse was interesting because the application was
written and designed by a student, and therefore it was tailored to his needs. Seeing how he executed
certain features that are also in the LOSt system allowed me to question whether his or my implementation
was better.

Design Visualisation and PACT 14


LOSt Design Visualisations
Main Menu

If new items have


Shows warnings been downloaded
and nearing automatically
deadlines at the then the module
top. icon will enlarge
and wiggle.

Coursework Overdue: 124MS Coursework 1

Large target areas Library Loans: Books due back in 3 days


for users to click
on s p e c i fi c
modules

2
new items
102CR 106CR 112CR
Content Creation Usability Programming

View Lecture Notes

Create a Note
!"#
113CR View your Notes 124MS
120CT
PDP Computer Architecture Logic & Sets

Hovering over a
module icon will
display three
options

Figure 9 Main Menu interface in LOSt

Notes

Another way to design this menu screen is to have the View Lecture Notes
three options (View Lecture Notes etc.) next to the Module
name. However, the issue with this is that target size is very
Create a Note
small, and therefore difficult to select.

Yet by requiring the user to hit a larger target first should 120CT View your Notes
mean that they are able to gain access to the options Computer Architecture

faster, as they are already closer to them


Figure 10 Another Main Menu design

Design Visualisation and PACT 15


Lecture Notes

Takes user back


to the Main Menu Lecture notes get
smaller to show
they are in the
past.

Back to
Main Menu Hovering over a
bar will show you
11/7
the date of that
lecture
Controls for going
through the slides

Orange border
suggests content
David Benyon Current lecture
related to the
Website slides highlighted
current slide
Moore's PACT Bad Email by the orange
Law Analysis Designs About Him border
Research
Module
useit Document Publications

Send to Send to Send to a Cite as a


Email Lecturer
iTunes Mobile Contact Reference

Related content
from other files in
the system and
the internet An example of the
detailed view for
Options users can related content
select concerning
this lecture note

Figure 11 Lecture Notes interface in LOSt

Notes

The idea to use this searching through time interface initially came from Cordell Ratzlaff who wrote ‘time is a
useful way for people to organize information on their computer.’ (2007 in Moggridge 2007: 148). This then
encouraged me to consider the Time Machine backup interface that is included in Mac OS X Leopard.

The five options at the bottom could have been implemented significantly better. For example, if the
lectures notes were unable to be sent to iTunes, then maybe that option wouldn’t be present, allowing for
the remaining four options to increase in size to fill the gap, however this would make it more difficult for the
users to get accustomed to the system.

Hovering over the Back to Main Menu button would have brought the button to the foreground. It was done
this way to not distract the user away from the actual content, while still being present in the interface for
the user to select when required.

Design Visualisation and PACT 16


Searching

Search bar
appears after the
user starts typing
Background is
dimmed, but still Results from the
visible to not lose Internet
context

Recursive Functions x

Previews of the Python Funct. Example Code Functions


Consectetur adipiscing elit Consectetur adipiscing elit Consectetur adipiscing elit
search results Eset eiusmod tempor incidunt et
labore et dolore magna aliquam. Ut
Eset eiusmod tempor incidunt et
labore et dolore magna aliquam. Ut
Eset eiusmod tempor incidunt et
labore et dolore magna aliquam. Ut
enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud
exerc. Irure dolor in reprehend exerc. Irure dolor in reprehend exerc. Irure dolor in reprehend
incididunt ut labore et dolore magna incididunt ut labore et dolore magna incididunt ut labore et dolore magna
aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis
nostrud exercitation ullamco nostrud exercitation ullamco nostrud exercitation ullamco
laboris.ncididunt ut labore et dolore laboris.ncididunt ut labore et dolore laboris.ncididunt ut labore et dolore
magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim
veniam, quis nostrud exercitation veniam, quis nostrud exercitation veniam, quis nostrud exercitation

Recursion Example Code Example Functions


Lecture 3 - Slide 5 Python.org Google.com Notes - 21/11

Scrollbar to
control the results

Convert Example Python Support Recursion Google Groups


Module Website Python.org iTunes U Groups.google.com

Dimmed out until


the full content is
displayed

Figure 12 Searching interface in LOSt

Notes

To search in many applications the user will usually have to select a Search bar first, before entering their
query. Not only does this waste valuable interface real estate, it also wastes time as the user has to move
the cursor to the bar and then select it. To initiate a search in the LOSt system all the user has to do is start
typing and the search view will appear over the current screen. While this could be considered unintuitive
compared to other standard search interfaces ‘very few interfaces are actually going to be intuitive from the
get go.’ (Raskin 2008 in Golem.de 2008)

Design Visualisation and PACT 17


Note Taking

Simple editing
Editable note title section
Undo & Redo will
change size
depending on
how many of each
Web 2.0 Notes B U I are available

!The internet is changing


!Web 2.0 is the future

!Companies like Google are pioneering in this sector Undo Redo

Contents of the """""!


"""Using AJAX technology to create interactive web applications
note ! """Producing interaction similar to the desktop experience Save Print
Users can drag
!The users are now the publishers related files to
Drop Related Content Here
!"""YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Wordpress, Last.fm, Wikipedia associate them
with the note
!Wikipedia
!
"""Huge database of entries
!"""Accessible to anyone for free
!"""Non-profit
!
"""Anyone can edit it
!"""Used by governments and corporations to spread lies
!"""Pentagon / Microsoft

Figure 13 Note Taking interface in LOSt

Notes

The idea behind the Undo and Redo pane is to give the user some feedback (Whether they want it is
another issue) to suggest how many Undos and Redos are left. For example, if the Undo button takes up
3/4 of that pane then it could be interpreted that there are more Undos available than Redos.

Design Visualisation and PACT 18


Transparent Messages

A transparent
message for
sound muting

Web 2.0 Notes B U I

!The internet is changing


!Web 2.0 is the future
The sound on your laptop is now muted
!Companies like Google are We have detected
pioneering you are currently in a lecture Undo
that sector
in this Redo
"""""!
"""Using AJAX technology to create interactive web applications
! """Producing interaction similar to the desktop experience Save Print
The rest of the
!The users are now the publishers
interface is still Drop Related Content Here
!"""YouTube, Flickr, Digg, Wordpress, Last.fm, Wikipedia
accessible and
viewable
!Wikipedia
!
"""Huge database of entries
!"""Accessible to anyone for free
!"""Non-profit
!
"""Anyone can edit it
!"""Used by governments and corporations to spread lies
!"""Pentagon / Microsoft

Figure 14 Transparent Messages in LOSt

Notes

Alerts from laptops or mobile phones can distract both the lecturer and students during lectures, so the
LOSt system attempts to reduce this issue. Many students use calendar applications on their computers so
they know when their lectures are. By utilising this information, LOSt can check both the current time and
the calendar to check whether they are using the system during lectures. If the student is in a lecture then a
transparent message will come up informing the user that the sound has been muted. The larger text
informs the student that the sound has been turned off, while the smaller text gives them some context,
rather than leaving them confused as to why LOSt
The sound on your laptop is now muted
had turned the sound off.
We have detected that you are currently in a lecture

Using a transparent message over a one option


OK
dialog box is pivotal to ensure that the student isn’t
distracted by the system. Transparent messages Figure 15 A dialog box solution
‘fade away when the user takes any action (like typing or moving the mouse). The message is both
noticeable yet unobtrusive.’ (Raskin 2006). A dialog box requires the user to select OK before doing
anything else which will distract the student from their main aim of taking notes from the lecture.

Design Visualisation and PACT 19


Feedback on Visualisations
Feedback

Main Menu

This screen was well received, especially the alerts at the top that displayed warnings of coursework
deadlines and library loans. One student did ask what would happen if a student had more than 6 modules,
and I reassured them that the module icons would get progressively smaller to accommodate more
modules. While this is true, this screen would only be able to scale to 4 modules on each row, which would
display 8 instead of 6 modules on the two visible rows.

Lecture Notes

The main concern for this screen was the Back to Main Menu button
that students felt was ambiguous as it was visible, yet behind the main
content. Hovering over the button would have brought it forward,
however they would prefer it at the front at all times. Despite that, I still
believe that having it behind the main content allows the students to
concentrate fully on their main task of reading and absorbing the Figure 16 Back to Main Menu
content rather than being distracted by interface objects.

Another issue was the slider on the right hand side that replaced a standard slider common in many other
applications. The slider on this screen was designed to easily show when the content was created, by
hovering over one of the rectangles to reveal its date. Clicking on one of these would instantly take the user
to that lecture, rather than requiring them to scroll until they find it for themselves.

Searching

At first, students were unsure how the search function worked. Currently when searching their notes, only
files from the local machine will be displayed. However they appreciated how LOSt’s execution of the
feature brought content off the internet directly and how they could preview the content instantly from the
results screen, believing this would save them a lot of time while researching.

The most prominent issue was how to initiate a search as they found no search box on any other screen.
When informed that all they had to do was start typing and the system would recognise the input and begin
searching automatically they fully understood. Around 60% of users believed this was a better
implementation than how they currently initiate a search, yet as they haven’t properly interacted with the
system it may still not be the right way to tackle this issue.

Note Taking

The majority of the students asked liked the simple editing pane on the right hand side, whilst some wanted
a larger selection of colours to choose from. They were also doubtful that the Undo and Redo pane
dynamic sizing feature would affect them in anyway, yet did appreciate that they were directly available in
the editing section. The ability to add related files or links was also recognised and well received, as
students admitted having difficulty trying to associate notes and links together.

Design Visualisation and PACT 20


Transparent Messages

Though I still feel that transparent messages can replace many ‘monolog boxes’ (Raskin 2006) in interfaces,
students remained unsure about them. They were worried about not seeing the messages, even after I
reassured them that it would require an action from them, such as typing or moving the mouse for the
message to disappear. They did however approve of how the system detected that the student was in a
class and automatically disabled the audio, ensuring no disruptions.

Reflection

The feedback from fellow students was very helpful as it showed me issues that I hadn’t previously
recognised.

The Back to Main Menu button on the Lecture Notes screen could possibly do with some enhancements,
yet I still believe that it is better behind the content until the user decides to go back to the Main Menu
screen, when it will then be brought to the user’s attention. Even though 60% felt that the search feature in
LOSt was better than the current standard implementation, this system may still require search boxes on all
screens to make the option more prominent to users.

As previously mentioned this feedback has solely come from screenshots of the intended interface, and
therefore students may prefer different things when interacting with it fully. Yet receiving feedback from
screenshots is an easy way to get your user group’s initial reactions and comments.

Design Visualisation and PACT 21


Appendix
Questionnaire

Questionnaire
Introduction

Thank you for taking part in this questionnaire for the LOSt system. By signing this form, you are allowing
the results of this questionnaire to be included - anonymously - in an academic report.

........................................! ! ....................
Name! ! ! ! ! Date

What gender are you?


Male ! Female !

What year of study are you currently in?

Foundation ! Year 1 ! Year 2 ! Year 3 ! Other !

How many modules are you taking this year?

!
Note taking

In how many modules do you write notes during the lectures?

!
For the modules you do write notes in

! Why do you write notes in these lectures?

! !
! Roughly, how much do you write?

! !
! How do you write the notes? (Tick all that apply)

" Text ! Charts & Graphs ! Pictures ! Other (Please explain) !

! !
For the modules you do not write notes in

! Why do you not write notes in these lectures?

! !

Design Visualisation and PACT 22


! Would you like to write notes in these lectures?

! Yes ! No !

! Are the lecture presentations available to download?

! Yes ! No ! Don’t know !

Technology

What of the following devices do you use to assist your learning?

PC / Laptop ! Netbook ! Mobile Phone ! MP3 Player / iPod

If you organise your work on a device, how do you do so?

!
Have you used iTunes U?

Yes ! No ! Don’t know what it is !

If you have used iTunes U

! How helpful is the service?

! !

Design Visualisation and PACT 23


References
Apple Inc., 2008. University of Wisconsin. [Online Moggridge, B., 2007. Designing Interactions. 1st
Video] ed. Massachusetts: MIT Press
Available from: http://www.apple.com/education/
profiles/wisconsinvideo/ Raskin, A., 2008. Aza Raskin - Humanes
[accessed 17 November 2008]. Interfaces-Design. [Online Video]
A v a i l a b l e f r o m : h t t p : / / w w w. g o l e m . d e /
Apple Inc., 2008. Apple - Accessibility - Mac OS X 0811/63189.html
- Hearing. [Webpage] [accessed 28 November 2008].
A v a i l a b l e f r o m : h t t p : / / w w w. a p p l e . c o m /
accessibility/macosx/hearing.html Raskin, A., 2006. Monolog Boxes and Transparent
[accessed 15 November 2008]. Messages. [Blog]
Available from: http://humanized.com/weblog/
Cox, J., 2008. Mobile learning project gives 2 0 0 6 / 0 9 / 1 1 /
students free iPhone or iPod. Network World, 13, monolog_boxes_and_transparent_messages/
10. 48. [accessed 28 November 2008].

Dix, A., Finlay, J., Abowd, G.D., Beale, R., 2004. Ratzlaff, C., 2007. Designing Interactions. 1st ed.
Human-Computer Interaction. 3rd ed. Harlow, Massachusetts: MIT Press
England: Pearson Education Ltd.

Golem.de, 2008. Aza Raskin - Humanes


Interfaces-Design. [Online Video]
A v a i l a b l e f r o m : h t t p : / / w w w. g o l e m . d e /
0811/63189.html
[accessed 28 November 2008].

Goodwin, K., 2001. Perfecting Your Personas.


[Blog]
Available from: http://www.cooper.com/journal/
2001/08/perfecting_your_personas.html
[accessed 29 November 2008].

Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2007. First


year UK domiciled HE students by qualification
aim, mode of study, gender and disability 2006/07.
[Excel Spreadsheet]
Available from: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/
dataTables/studentsAndQualifiers/download/
disab0607.xls?v=1.0
[accessed 15 November 2008].

Higher Education Statistics Agency, 2007. All


students by institution, mode of study, level of
study, gender and domicile 2006/07. [Excel
Spreadsheet]
Available from: http://www.hesa.ac.uk/dox/
dataTables/studentsAndQualifiers/download/
institution0607.xls
[accessed 15 November 2008].

Jones, G., row.io@coventry.ac.uk, IELTS Testing.


[Email]. Message to Davies, T.. Sent on 17
November 2008.
[accessed 17 November 2008].

Design Visualisation and PACT 24