Meeting with Karen Ayres, Applied Statistics

Before the Steering Group a couple of weeks ago, Karsten and I went to meet with Karen Ayres, who is an academic in the School of Applied Statistics and also a member on the Steering Group for the DEVELOP project.

We looked at the current interim solution for the Video Widget and also the prototype of the Tagging/Recommender Widgets. This relatively informal meeting was also an opportunity to think more about how we might best evaluate pilots in the future. For example, I had prepared but a couple of questions to ask prior to Karen’s trying out the tagging widget….

  • Are you familiar with tagging?
  • Do you have content-heavy courses? (How many items?)

….the idea being that we would then see what questions arose out of her trial of the tool (either from us or from her).

As it happened, Karen was not overly familiar with the concept of the tagging, having heard of it but never really practiced it. Nor did she have courses that she considered particularly content-heavy. Having conducted a preliminary conversation, we showed Karen the prototype tool on the Development server of Blackboard.

As we looked at the prototype with Karen, we could immediately see some improvements that might be made, and Karen herself asked some questions:

  • The tag button needs to be clicked individually
  • It should be clarified that links are by tag
  • Can we put dates on the tags?
  • Can we date-release tags? (May not be appropriate.)
  • It would be useful to keep score of who’s looking content/tags
  • Counter next to each tag shows total number of available and unavailable items with that tag.

We then looked at the ASSET video dropbox interim solution for Blackboard version 8, which is on our live server. Using Karen’s flipcam we shot a short five-second video and then asked her to upload with Blackboard. When asked how she found the process of trying to upload a video using the dropbox widget in Blackboard, Karen replied that it was “easy”.

Together though, we noticed that a couple of issues arose.

Firstly, Karen uses Internet Explorer 6 so when she received the e-mail from the streaming server to tell her her video was ready, she clicked on the link and found she couldn’t see the videos as promised because IE6 opens a new window (instead of a new tab) and therefore a new session. In short, according to the newly opened window of Internet Explorer, Karen wasn’t logged in. We had to copy and paste the link from the e-mail, in the end, and paste it into the window in which she was logged in.

The "How To" steps for embedding a video

Secondly, we noted that when Karen could see the videos, she didn’t immediately see the help guidelines (which are quite far down the page and involve some scrolling down). We have since cut out a lot of the text that appears but there may still be issues with its placement and its wording.

We need to consider how best to go about improving this while taking on board feedback from other pilots.

I may blog more on this issue soon, as well as the kinds of uses that we and some pilots have considered for the tool.

About Guy

I am currently Enhancement Officer (for Education Technologies) at the University of Reading. I am also studying for a Masters in Research at the University's School of Systems Engineering.
This entry was posted in Evaluation, Pilots and Implementation, Recommender, Tagging, Video and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *