By Jessy Ma, NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates intern, Brown University
Hi! My name is Jessy, and I am a rising sophomore at Brown University double majoring in Computer Science and Environmental Studies. I am currently 4 weeks into my REU here at CMU HCII with the Learning to See project. During my time here, I am responsible for an assortment of tasks, mainly focusing on usability testing for the alpha version of macroinvertebrates.org and designing a mobile companion app for the site. Throughout the summer, I will be collecting data from usability tests to figure out the features of the site that are most important to users and that might be most helpful to include in an offline mobile app. At this point, the primary function of the app is still to be determined, but it will likely be a reference app that includes all the images and important information from the website. It could also be a game that allows users to practice and test their identification skills. The direction I end up taking with my design will depend on what I learn from conducting usability tests and attending VBMO trainings. Here is a link to a presentation with all the ideas and notes I have compiled for the app: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1m3b-JdWdh3U_n0aKe0G-GA4dNG6qkBVsNiKYRP7nMeQ/edit?usp=sharing.
So far, I have reviewed other research that has addressed similar problems, such as projects that use digital technology to teach tree thinking in informal learning environments. I have researched existing games that aim to teach taxonomic ID or similar topics and brainstormed design ideas for the app. I have prepared materials for demoing the new site to trainers and conducting usability tests. I have also learned how to use Photoshop to edit the gigapixel images for the site. The site has been introduced to many of our co-design partners, and we will soon observe how the trainers use the site. Currently, I am learning mobile app development with React Native and will continue tweaking my design ideas as I conduct usability tests.
I am excited to see how trainers use macroinvertebrates.org in their trainings and how users respond to the site. I will post more updates on my work as the summer goes on. Thanks for reading!
An interdisciplinary team