By Wei Gong
After the first round user test, we gained insights, refined our concepts, and planned to do a second round user test. We will go on weekday this time to test the concepts with different audience. The testing plan is as follow:
Interview Question to Audiences:
Interview Question to staff in the living room:
By Wei Gong
With some general concepts like guiding the visitors with some questions so that they can explore the exhibit on their own, and attracting the visitors with zoomable images on the screen, we did our first round user test in the living room of Frick Environmental Center. Actually, this is a combination of discovery research, generative research and user test, since we aimed to discover design opportunities, gain insights on design solutions, and test our concept at the same time. Before the test, we wrote a proposal for the test plan.
User Test Proposal
Observation Note Template
Interview Question to Audiences:
Interview Question to staff in the living room:
We spent around 2 hours in the living room doing contextual inquiry and testing the concepts, from which we gained a lot of information. The key findings are shown below.
“I want to make a tower with these blocks”
“They are so pretty”
“How does it feel to taste bugs”
“So Cool” ---- After putting them down the magnifying glass.
“I’ll show you how to play with the blocks, put your magnifying lenses above the blocks.”
“You want to zoom in and out?”
“Let’s try another one”
“Can you match them(the block and the card)
“Do you want to see the legs?”
“I just noticed they are interested in it. I want to know whether they really understand it.”
“Don’t touch the computer”
Most children who are attracted to the exhibit can play with the kit as long as they can until their parents require them to leave, usually more than 20 minutes.
After the test, I think we need to design some activities that the audience can really interact with, either by themselves or facilitated. In the user test, although the kids had fun with the materials, they didn't really interact with it and got information from it. Most of them simply played treated them as toys.
Several ideas I have in mind:
By Wei Gong
During this summer, our team aims to design an educator kit for the educators to engage kids in macroinvertebrate education. Our first step was to do research to understand the problem and identify design opportunities. Before doing field research, we generated driving questions that we wanted to answer by the end of the research phase.
With the driving questions in mind, we conducted semi-structured interviews for the following interviewees:
After the interviews, we consolidated the data into several categories and answered the driving questions as follow:
Question1: What are the learning goals for the students in the water quality and macroinvertebrate education?
Based on data we got from all the interviews, we concluded three major learning goals for the students in macroinvertebrate education as follow:
1. Learners will explore the connection between the insects and the ecosystem and have a basic awareness of
Question2: What elements form a successful and engaging macroinvertebrate education?
Probing into the engaging elements in the macroinvertebarete education, we got 3 insights in how to create a successful exhibit kit as follow:
1. Create a live experience for the learners in which they can touch, feel, and observe.
Question 3: What pain points do educators have for water quality and macroinvertebrate education?
Although under different contexts, the educators similar challenges and painpoints in the macroinvertebrate education, which we concluded as follow:
1. Difficulty in creating a real experience where students can touch, feel and observe clearly.
Question 4: What resources do educators use right now for the water quality biomonitoring activities and macroinvertebrate education? Among the resources, what works well and what doesn’t?
Currently, educators use the resources below in macroinvertebrate education:
Question 5: How can technology play a role in macroinvertebrate education and what are the technological constraints in the context?
We investigated how technology is applied in macroinvertebrate education now and the potential opportunities in the future. Key findings are as follow:
1. Educators have concerns on students using their individual phones in camps, field trips or other similar activities.
By Wei Gong, Emily Chan, Alice Fang
After the initial research, we decided to focus our design scope on an unfacilitated exhibit that can be placed in the living room, museum, classroom, or any other open space.
Based on the research findings, we generated the initial HMWs and conducted a brainstorming session, after which we sorted our initial ideas into several categories.
After the brainstorming session, we generated 6 design concepts in total and collected feedback at the macroinvertebrate.org launching event with the educators.
Among our 6 ideas, Jigsaw and Balance the stream are the most popular and received some helpful feedback
Balance the Stream:
With the concepts and feedbacks from the educators, we consulted Jessica and Marti for feedbacks and suggestions on next steps. We consolidated their feedbacks into several design challenges:
Hi! I'm Alice, a rising junior at Carnegie Mellon University studying communication design with a minor in professional writing. I joined the macroinvertebrates team this summer as a design/research assistant, and I’ve been working on some site iterations for macroinvertebrates.org the past three weeks—namely, building stronger relationships between icon navigation and the actual informational content. I’ve learned a lot about prototyping quickly and keeping my work organized, in order to present solutions that have to rapidly be pushed to development. Having learned some basic web design and HTML/CSS, it was also a good learning opportunity in working with a developer to figure out what can or should be coded.
On the previous version of the site, navigational icons floated above the panels that held important and interesting content. We wanted to change the structure for organizing the content without creating a major overhaul of the previous system.
Some of the questions I had to figure out for creating a side panel:
One major issue was having a system where all of the content (order/family overview, media, iNaturalist photos, life history, characteristics) could be visible together but still consolidated. The original site had some strange floating/scrolling rules in order to fit all of the information. To address this, I explored different ‘drawer’, or side-panel, designs.
In the end, we took the ‘Media’ content and the iNaturalist photos and grouped them into their own separate category, which was then referred to as the Media Tab. The panel thus had three tabs at the top: Information, Diagnostic Characteristics, and Media.
In trying to incorporate the ‘clear all’ function, to show the macroinvertebrates without any identifying information, we took advantage of the structure of the panel; when the panel closed, it also cleared all information, leaving just the images of the macroinvertebrates. The default then became having the panel open to the diagnostic characteristics tab.
I also played around with different hover cues for the diagnostic characteristics. Clicking on a characteristic opened up a gallery that compared that characteristic for the selected macroinvertebrate with others that had the same feature.
Hi! My name is Wei Gong, a graduate student in HCI Institute, majored in Educational Technology and Applied Learning Science. I will explore the application of NFC technology in informal learning contexts this summer. Specifically for the Learning to See Project, I will design a popup kit for the Carnegie Museum of Natural History to engage kids in macroinvertebrate identification.
I will graduate in 2 months, so this will be a super busy summer for me, but I'm excited about it! My personal goal in doing this summer research is to explore the design opportunities in museum settings since I'm a museum fan.
To get started with the project and to gain an understanding of the design challenge, I did an macroinvertebrate identification task using various resources including field guides and key printouts.
Identified four bugs in total. In order to experience different materials, I tried nearly all the materials at hand. Generally, the overall experience of the ID task is fun. It took much less time than I thought I would, which was a relief.
Regarding the materials for the ID task, I personally found the flashcard most helpful and the big field guide book ( An introduction to the aquatic insects of North America) least helpful. The flashcard is quite straightforward with big images of the bugs and just right amount of text explanation. When I was using the flashcard to identify the bug, my process was to first visually match the specimen with the order level identification in the flashcard, and then observed the specimen in more detail, found its obvious traits, compared it with different families on the flashcard until finally distinguished it. I barely read the texts unless it's really necessary. I found the big guide book least useful because there's too much information which scared me away, and I think if only for the task of identification, it's not necessary to provide so much information.
The key insights I got from this task are:
1. We can deliver to the kids the idea that the macroinvertevrate ID is not scary or time-consuming, but can be fun.
2. We should reduce the cognitive load for the volunteers/learners to identify the insects. One possible way is to utilize more media like comic/animation/image than text.
By Emily Chan, Harvard University, Summer 2019 REU
Hi there! I'm Emily, a rising junior at Harvard studying computer science with a minor in statistics. I'm a week and a half into the HCII REU, and I'm working on two projects with Marti Louw, one of which is Macroinvertebrates.org. I came to the HCII REU because as a computer science major and an artist, I'm interested in learning more about design, and I also want to experience what doing research is like.
Some of my personal goals for the summer are to understand how and why design choices are made, get hands on experience developing tools for users using design principles and user feedback, make something that I can show people/people will actually use, and learn about prototyping with smart devices.
My tasks for Macroinvertebrates.org for the foreseeable future include doing usability testing for the new dichotomous key, glossary, and search functionality; creating an improved popup kit for museums to use to engage kids in macroinvertebrate identification, trying to leverage the high quality media that we have and potentially using smart technologies such as NFC tags, etc.; and possibly working on developing identification quiz practice functionality for the site.
To gain an understanding of the design challenges at hand, we did an identification task using the current resources available to volunteers--field guides and key printouts. The sheer amount of materials was slightly overwhelming, so as someone with no experience doing macroinvertebrate identification, I just chose two field guides that had pictures and stayed with those. I identified five bugs, four using the field guides and one using the website. What I noticed when using the field guides was that the detailed text descriptions of the bugs was essential for family level identification, but the volume of the text also gets in the way when it comes to order level identification. My process was to first do visual pattern-matching to the order level, and then read the descriptions of ones that looked similar to the specimen to find traits that would help distinguish between families. I was surprised by how identification wasn't as difficult or time-consuming as I anticipated, but I also didn't use most of the materials, and never used a key.
When I switched to using the website, I tried a similar approach, but the website's organization was slightly different from a field guide (I couldn't just flip through quickly to scan for pictures and then selectively read descriptions), which took some adjusting to. The home page worked well for facilitating my initial pattern-matching approach, but I can see how if I were trying to identify a ambiguous looking larvae, I would want the home page to be more explorable (to be able to zoom in more), since some of the pictures were quite small. Once I clicked through to the order page, I definitely don't think I would have known how to get rid of the diagnostic characteristic boxes obstructing the actual pictures that I wanted to look at. However, since I was already familiar with how to do that, I was able to match the specimen to the common burrowing mayfly just by appearance, but I wasn't able to find the characteristics that might help distinguish between similar looking families in a convenient place.
For me, this raised the question of whether the purpose of Macroinvertebrates.org is primarily to be a learning resource or an identification resource.
Macroinvertebrates.org featured in Spring 19 National Water Quality Monitoring Council's Newsletter.
Following our site training workshop at the 2019 Annual National Water Quality Monitoring Conference in Denver with Tara Munez, Stroud Water Research Institute, the site was also featured in the quarterly National Water Quality Monitoring Council quarterly newsletter. We're thrilled to receive the coverage and hope to reach a broader audience of users.
This video was shared with us, while not deemed appropriate for the site...it is a humorous take on the life"style" of a dragonfly with a self-consciously anthropomorphic, locker room humour.
by Chelsea Cui, undergraduate research assistant, CMU
Hi, it’s Chelsea again! This spring I have been working with Jaclyn, our new designer, on a revision of the Order level key. Based on our previous usability test results, this time we decided to focus on the improvement of interactivity and element affordance. We wondered if making the key clickable and having paths highlight would make the key easier to follow. Here’s Jaclyn’s rough prototype:
At this point, I have added all the popup windows and labeled most order pictures, but I will not be in CMU during the summer, so this project is on hold. For future developers, I would suggest to follow these steps:
An interdisciplinary team