Where do we go from here?
We have our empirical data and theoretical readings. Our task is now to synthesize this into a meaningful design proposal that will enhance the sense of commitment. We will do this through a process that consists of the following steps:
- Formulating "the well" as design idea
- Iteration 1: Conduct Future Workshop 1 brainstorm with ourselves as participants, where we challenge the idea of the well on behalf of a critique and fantasy phase (30th April)
- Develop two prototypes that that are manifestations of 'the well' as design idea (1st May)
- Iteration 2: Conduct Future Workshop 2 with other ITDD group as participants, where we focus on the implementation phase of the two prototypes. What will happen in practice? (3rd May)
- Arrive at one single prototype and unfold the process as a coherent design argument with attention to how empirical data, educational theory and design methods have guided our design process and final product (7-8 May).
- Make cognitive walkthrough together with bypassers at Internet Week Denmark (11-12 May)
At several points - especially those regarding involving participants - give rise to criticism. How can you say that you involve participants, when you keep using your self as guinea pigs. This is not because we don't want to talk to MOOC'ers, but because they are impossible to get in touch with. Why we do as we do, we will explain in the following.
How to involve participants who scarcely participated?
The fact that there’s a lack of commitment among participants in MOOCs became evident for us affectively throughout the five week’s run of the course. We became gradually de-motivated, and in fact some of us have yet to complete the MOOC. We believe that there’s a mood in the MOOC that is contagious: You simply, more or less reflected, feel that others don’t participate. In the last week it felt like a haunted, abandoned castle. This feeling we can back up with hard evidence, as the graph below shows the gradual decrease in comments on the activities.
In the first week, about 500 of the 6000 enrollees were active. In the last week, it was about 50.
But the lack of commitment has turned out to be critical in other ways than "just" for the MOOC it self. It has also turned out to influence our design method in unexpected ways. As written earlier, we’ve opted for a human-centred design approach, which means we have immersed ourselves in the context we’re designing for, in order to ensure the design is meaningful for those who will engage with it. For the same reasons, we intended to conduct two online facilitated workshops with selected participants from the MOOC inspired by the future workshop method.
However, after sending about 100 personal invites to participate in a workshop, no one has gotten back. Afterwards we tried with a short survey, just to see if any would respond to this. 8 answered our questions, 7 of them were people who finished the course. In other words, the very few people who did give a sign of life would not be representative for the participants of the MOOC, because we would like to also talk to those, who didn't commit themselves.
This poses a methodological challenge:
How can we give voice to participants who remain silent?
Re-considering what a participant is within a Future Workshop
For that reason, we’ve been obliged to rethink one of the basic principles of the future workshop, namely that you include the participants and make sure that everyone gets their voice heard. One of the elements in the first phase of human-centred design, is that you "borrow" ethnographic methods such as participant-observations, and thereby get to feel what it is like to be the human, you've centrered yourself. This is also what we've done, and therefore we argue that - in lack of other participants - we can use ourselves as such in our workshop. Because we know what it is like to a part of the MOOC which we are designing for. We all actively participated in the MOOC equally with those, we otherwise invited for the workshop.
We’ve chosen to do two iterations of the future workshop. In the first one, one of us will be the facilitator, the three others will act as MOOC participants (and not take on their design hat).
The workshop will consist of three phases:
- The preparation phase
- The critique phase
- The fantasy phase.
The one who facilitates the future workshop will prepare the workshop with attention to the possibilities and limitation of online meetings (make use of Hangout, Padlet etc.). The facilitator will draw on concrete workshop techniques from the Participatory Pattern Workshop’s support toolkit (Mor 2012: 166). E.g. ”draw and tell” and ”three hats”:
As we regularly have discussed our empirical data and readings in the group, this workshop is intended to be a ”design culmination” of our work so far. The workshop will end up with two-three concrete design ideas or solutions, to the patterns and narratives which has been discussed in the critique and fantasy phase.
Those concrete ideas will be the point of departure for the second future workshop, where we invite the participants from the other ITTD MOOC group. We will ask them to critique our prototypes from the perspective of being a participant in a MOOC.
On behalf of this, we will end up with one prototype which we will try to make as “living” as possible, so that we can bring it with us to Internet Week Denmark, and make séances of cognitive walkthroughs together with by passers.