Friday, 17 May 2013

Learning Design Studio: Personas

What have I learned about our design space and design process after having created two personas and reviewed those of my fellow team members?

Activity 6 Block 3 H817 OU UK

I enjoyed having to create personas for this activity. I'm not new to developing characters as it's something that I do regularly as a teacher, whether it's slipping into a role or creating activities involving the use of characters. However, I haven't created them before as a specific design tool, as is the case here for our online project in order to have a clearer vision of the problems and challenges that we may encounter and have to resolve.

What are the similarities and differences between the personas you proposed and those that your team mates have contributed?

After we had completed our collaborative document with key factors and concerns, relating to each of our personas, the similarities and differences were much clearer.  Despite one pair of personas being quite high profile in comparison to the other six, all of the issues that have arisen are relevant to the Higher Education context that we have chosen and have given us a good basis to commence with. The following issues overlapped:
  • Technological
  • Pedagogical
  • Digital literacies
  • Cultural
  • Organizational resistance from either management, seniors within a department or fellow teachers
  • Recognition that changes need to be made concerning methods of assessment and their implementation
  • Curriculum 
  • Resources
For some of the personas these issues were dealt with positively and for others negatively, which balanced out nicely when it came to drawing up a system of forces. 

What have you learned from this exercise about your design space and about the design process.

We had had as a team one synchronous meeting before moving on to this exercise and it was evident that we were not all on the same wavelength concerning the interpretation of our project: Assessment of multi-media artefacts in a desgn-based course. How do you incorporate effective assessment into the course? This of course made it difficult to decide on a suitable context. Without some sort of context in mind I couldn't imagine how we were supposed to create personas with factors and concerns that would be relevant to this context. So we decided to keep it open, but aim at the Higher Education sector, as it is an area that we can all relate to personally and then just adapt and adjust as bits of the puzzle exposed themselves. This proved to be a sensible decision and helped us to move the project a step further.

I did expect our project to take on more shape once we had created, shared and analyzed each others personas and this expectation was fulfilled. It became much easier to visualize the context and the possible stakeholders that could have an interest in, or offer resistance to the e-assessment toolkit that we are aiming to create. 

I can see the value in each team member designing two personas as it offers differing perspectives which act as a catalyst for further discussion. Implementing the templates ensured that the personas were carefully thought about, whilst posting them on our site and having to comment on each template meant that we engaged asynchronously on a deeper level with the material. This enabled reflection and consequently led to a better understanding of the context, possible stakeholders and the challenges that we will be facing in the weeks ahead as we design our e-assessment resource. 

Effective communication and cooperation were key to this part of the design process being successfully completed and will be throughout the duration of this project. It is vital to have a variety of synchronous and asynchronous methods for communication and to constantly keep the team as a whole informed. The design space itself is well structured and has a workbench area which we've already found useful. We've been linking some of our Google Drive documents to this space as it enables quick access and inevitably a smoother workflow when we're already working within the project site. We've decided to have a synchronous meeting at the end of weeks 14 / 15 to reassess our roles, methods of communication and workflow and to make adjustments as necessary if we feel something needs improving or changing.


  1. In hindsight, how much do you think your personas influenced decisions taken on your storyboard?

  2. Good question David. At one point I thought we'd be manipulating things to fit. I find now that with each step forward we take, especially when it comes to creating a new artefact, the personas are taking on more depth. I can really visualize the different characters either using our innovation or being on the receiving end, which is an aid in the creative process.

    We've just about completed filling out our features for the prototype template and having had personas to work with made this exercise easier. I felt that I had something tangible to work with. The bits and pieces of the design process are starting to take shape and mould together. The more they mould, it becomes clearer why we've had to take most of these steps.

    Thanks for asking.