PERSONAS - design process technique

Reading this recent article on Ford's design process for the Fiesta reminded me of the importance of "personas" in human-centered design.

A persona is basically a character that you create to capture certain characteristics and needs of the group of people that you are designing for. The idea is that designers can then better understand and relate to their users - making design decisions less abstract.

In the case of the article above, Ford created "Antonella - an attractive 28-year old woman who lives in Rome. Her life is focused on friends and fun, clubbing and parties." Antonella's love for her cellphone (a characteristic based on market research) led Ford to design a dashboard interface inspired by that of a mobile phone. The hope is then that controlling the features of the car is more intuitive for its users.

I was introduced to the concept of persona's in Dan Gilbert's Designing Learning Spaces class, and here is a great article on personas by Don Norman.


PiCo Workshop Completed

In June I finished leading a series of design workshops looking at new uses for hand-held digital projectors (pico projectors) in museums. A short write-up about the workshops can be seen at the InterMedia website here.

The series included separate workshops with children (12 and 15 year-olds) and experts in fields of museum design, learning, and technology as well as the mobile phone industry. Participants really seemed to enjoy themselves as the discussion and activities emphasized creativity in identifying new affordances of this technology in museum settings. I was particularly impressed with the young participants creation of video scenarios to express and think through their ideas. I'm currently working on analyzing the data and results from these workshops to present findings on both the content and methodology at a conference in october. I hope to share more on these findings soon!


IADIS Mobile Learning 2009 - Conference Slides

Here are the long-overdue slides from my presentation at the IADIS MOBILE LEARNING 2009 Conference. These are just the images, so if anyone knows how to embed my notes along with the slides, please let me know. In the presentation, I used an optical illusion exhibit from the Exploratorium in San Francisco as a metaphor for the relationships between physical museum space, social learning interactions, and mobile phones. I would be happy to email out a copy of the full paper as well, if anyone is interested.

-- Rolf Steier


Digital Field Guide

This article describes a pretty cool mobile application that helps users identify tree species based on pictures of leaves. I actually saw Sean White, a designer of this application, speak at the 2007 Mobile Persuasive conference, so it's nice to see the project continue development. It is easy to imagine how these types of applications can transform outdoor public spaces into richer learning environments.

- Rolf


more projector-phones

The future seems to be arriving quite quickly. A while ago I wrote about mobile projectors as an emerging technology. Well my current research focuses on exactly this technology and the implications for learning in public spaces like museums. I'm actually planning a design workshop to explore this further. In any case, I was encouraged to see another example of these projectors being integrated with mobile phones. I really do believe that this feature may be as common as camera phones in two years time, so this is a great opportunity to think about the learning implications early on.

rolf steier



Books On Phones

Google and Amazon are both making ebooks available to mobile phones. The action of reading books on mobile phones may not seem like the type of interaction or participatory learning that museums may strive for, but I do believe that this development is worth mentioning on this site. First of all, the story is a perfect caption for my logo above (ha!). More significantly, the availability of books on mobile phones adds to the variety of resources available to museum visitors. A mobile phone ebook can certainly supplement an exhibit interaction or museum conversation.

-- Rolf Steier


Wii Project(or) Play

This is a quick video I made playing with the concept of a "mobile smartboard" using a wii controller. This technology was shown to me by a colleague here at InterMedia. Information about setting up your own can be found here , (and here for a mac computer).
I generally feel uncomfortable with a design process that forces a particular technology into a solution or concept. However, I think that in this case, the potential affordances of mobile projectors (and mobile smartboards) are worth investigating in the museum setting. A major limitation to mobile phone-based learning in museums is that the screen size is quite small, as is the keypad. I think that there may be interesting possibilities for enhancing visitor collaborations and interactions with exhibits through the above technology.

-- Rolf Steier


Report on Children's Mobile Learning

This report entitled, Pockets of Potential: Using Mobile Technologies to Promote Children’s Learning, was recently forwarded to me. I've looked through it, and it does site several examples of mobile learning developments in museums. The report seems to do a great job of justifying the significance of mobile learning for today's children. Here is the report itself.

- Rolf Steier


NPR: Interactive Games in Museums

This Story from NPR was just forwarded to me, and it's great! It's a short piece on the role that interactive games could be playing in museums. The piece interviews Jane McGonigal from the Institute For The Future - a place where I actually used to work myself. In any case, it's definitely not a stretch to imagine mobile phones as the center of these interactive museum games.

-- Rolf Steier