Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Reflection on a Prototype

H817 OU UK Activity 19

Only a few hours and we'll be officially releasing the prototype of our assessment design toolkit for evaluation by other teams. It's a wonderful feeling to have reached this stage and I'm looking forward to receiving constructive feedback.

Once again before embarking on this last major collaborative activity, we held a synchronous meeting to discuss how we should approach it i. e. who would do what;  how we wanted to present our individual and collaboratively created artefacts and within what timeframe we felt this would be realistically achievable.

We had as a team created a list with features that we all felt should be incorporated in the design of our prototype. Our team leader, Dave, extracted the most significant features and placed them into a filter list for discussion. During our meeting we blocked the features into groups of four, so one group of features per team member. We decided to represent them all as Prezis. This was met with apprehension by Alessandro. However, Priya offered to create the Prezi which meant Alessandro would only need to add text or upload images, frameworks etc that he felt would be relevant for his presentation.

My Role

From the filter list I was assigned the micro level features, such as:
  • illustrating that assessment criteria should be clearly articulated for both individual and group work
  • illustrating that individual and collaborative activities should be clearly stated
  • illustrating that individual and collaboratively created work should be captured and archived  for assessment purposes
  • illustrating that resources should offer suitable flexibility to enable choice and creativity within a course
I had mentioned to the team that the design tool Compendium LD would be a suitable tool for capturing this and was thus designated to tackle my part of the design using this tool.  

I created a document to accompany the Prezi, in case members of our audience and particularly the evaluators, are not familiar with this kind of visual representation. So both resources have been uploaded to our project site.

Figure 1. Assessing Group Work  (Daniels, 2013)

Was the process clear and efficient?

Overall, I felt that this specific stage in the design process ran smoothly. It was clear for me what was expected and it was only a matter of thinking about how I could represent the features I was given . Compendium LD  has a good choice of nodes and icons which can be dragged and dropped to map various processes, so it was an appropriate tool choice, as was Prezi for the development of the presentation. 

By this stage in the design process, we'd already done an enormous amount of research; held a number of synchronous meetings; communicated daily and regularly via twitter; and wrote longer posts in the forum, so I was excited about finally being able to sit down and create my part of the prototype.

Were your expectations met?

After Dave, Priya and I had completed our presentations we shared them with each other for reviewing.  It was wonderful to see how our work linked back to the work we'd done to date. Once we'd uploaded our work to the project site and added text to enable a smooth transition for the reader from one page to the next, it was easy for us to view the site more as a narrative about the creation of an idea to it's fruition as a prototype. It will be interesting to hear if our evaluators are as positive as we are.

Naturally, within this short timeframe only so much has been achievable, which is why we've outlined the steps that need to be taken for this prototype to be developed into a practical and useable resource.

Unfortuately, our fourth member decided to leave our team during this step in the design process because he felt that he wasn't learning anything and felt pressured by all the deadlines. We respected his decision to take control of his own learning and were sorry that he didn't feel that he could continue.

What did you learn from the experience?

In general, I think that after we've completed smaller activities which have been designed as lead-ups to something being created, this has been the, 'aha' moment. The moment where clarity comes and I've felt the pieces joining together. Especially today, after tweaking texts on our site with Dave and Priya, it's much easier to understand why we've taken particular steps and the rationale behind them during the entire project.

Advantages and Limitations of creating a prototype

Depending on the context, I can imagine that prototypes are in some cases absolutely essential e.g. car industry, software developers and in other contexts less so. Nevertheless, having a prototype means having something tangible in your hands. It's a sample of the real thing. You can examine it and view it from different perspectives which makes spotting the flaws a little easier. Strengths and weaknesses become evident and adjustments can be made. Production time for the authentic object should be reduced. Additionally, a prototype might be necessary to demonstrate to a client what you're capable of, most likely at your cost.
         On the other hand, it's time and perhaps money and may never be accepted for production or for use. This means taking risks. If the prototype has been commissioned there might be too much interference from the client.

For our project it's been worthwhile to have something which we ourselves can walk through and evaluate. It's been extremely time consuming but has functioned quite smoothly, mainly because our team has communicated openly and efficiently throughout the entire project; have taken the initiative to get activities moving; to call spontaneous meetings and to support and back each other up where necessary.

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