3.1 | Generate Ideas

 

Idea One:
Advancing the Canvas application further than what it is now. Making it more like an open-source platform where you can download plugins and addons to make Canvas a more advanced and specialized tool rather than just an informational platform. Letting the students themselves choose what addons they want to have and what plugins they want to disable. And let them customize the course sites and groups.

This will create a new way of using Canvas. Instead of the user having to cave in and adapt to how Canvas is currently set up we can let the user decide and form their own platform. Do economy students need the same tools as IT students? Probably not. Some will use a lot of the same tools but some course-specific addons would create a more directed tool. Also letting eager students creating their own addons or plugins they can choose to share their idea/plugin/addon in the Plugin library (monitored by some form of authority).

Idea Two:

During our expert interview, mr. Bisseberg informed us that 47% of the students interact with Canvas through the app. Now, that’s a large number! Through our student interview, we learned there was

 

Idea Three:
[informasjonbank-add-on til studiefordypning lærer-student]

1.2 | Expert interview and/or Observations

Under construction:

An expert interview with Per-Olav Bisseberg!

Mr. Bisseberg is an engineer, working at Østfold University College, and THE go-to-person with all things Canvas and LMS related!

Name: Per Olav Bisseberg
Location: His office at HIH – Face to face interview.
Occupation: Head Engineer at the IKT department of HIOF.
Other Experience related to this: Canvas Top Admin.

In this interview we wanted to collect data about LMS (mainly Canvas) and the expert user’s experience and position towards these and their functions.

We wanted to gather as much data according to this to help us understand how and why we could improve these.

  1. Interviewer: «What do you do in your position here?»
  2. Per Olav: » I am the Canvas top admin, and technically, that means I’ll have to make sure all integrations towards other systems are working. If Canvas goes down for some reason it’s my job to get it up and running again. I am the the one that keeps in touch with the supplier, and I’m involved with the operating of Canvas here.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «What experience do you have with LMS like Canvas?»
  2. Per Olav: » I got a lot of experience with LMS overall. I am also in a national team that works towards better systems for students when it comes to school related platforms.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «What is your perspective when it comes to group work in Canvas? Does a lot of people come in these doors with group related questions?»
  2. Per Olav: «No, not really. Most of the cases gets cleared by the IT-Support team. What comes through my door is usually more major issues that has to be failchecked, or searched for, or in some cases, notified to other parties so they can fix it. But from experience, we had a intro project in Canvas the fall of 2017 and throughout the spring of 2018, and there were a lot of questions about almost everything from both the staff and users that were chosen for this pilot, but ever since, the rate of support cases have decreased majorly. Most cases from students where there are problems, are coming from huge projects or classes that have tried to use the «Rate Each Other» function in Canvas. That function is not always working properly, and Instructure (company name of Canvas owners) are working overtime to get a new solution out for this. I’m saying, and you might quote me on this if you’d like, I am not a Canvas evangelist, I do see a lot of problems with Canvas as it is today, but compared to all the other options we have, Canvas is the least faulty learning platform.»

«Back when we used the Fronter (another LMS), the situation was a lot worse, and we encountered a lot more problems. It was also up to each teacher to actually use it. Today we use Canvas and that is mandatory for all teachers that all the information they hand out should go through there, as well. Canvas puts the students in focus and the teachers next.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «What do you think is the biggest challenge with Canvas at HIOF today?»
  2. Per Olav: «The biggest challenge we face with Canvas today is for the teachers to use it correctly so that it get to be a good, easy and pleasant experience for the students.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «HIOF has a lot of future teachers under training, and I know that they are very focused on using digital solutions, what are your prospects there?»
  2. Per Olav: «They’ve built up a big IKT section that’s looking into how IKT works with school and the educational worth around it.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «With your experience with Canvas, are there any functions that you’re missing as today?»
  2. Per Olav: «On the admin side of things I do miss a lot, mostly tools for us as admins, but overall I think Canvas is good. There are small problems here and there, like the Wiziwig box where you write comments and such does not support the writing of Code as things might get unorganized and highlights ect. might not be shown. That is a thing I’m missing, they said they were going to do something about that, but that was back in 2017 and is probably not as high on their priority list. I do wish they had used some more time on creating user experience and interaction design. It is a lot, especially for the teachers, that is a bit clunky that with better design could have been avoided, and down to the more fundamental things that they don’t have one set of iconography. Their symbols aren’t coherent. There is also a lot of Google Translate integrated that’s not always working properly. Like Recordings got translated to «registrering» in Norwegian that caused some problems. If the iconography and the translations had been better it would probably save us for a lot support cases.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «Do you have any data of what is the most used devices to use Canvas with?»
  2. Per Olav: «Yes, we do actually. And our data tells us that approximately 47% of all our interactions are from Smartphones. We do have some future problems there that we need to handle, as we got a lot of teachers that uses Canvas primarily as a information channel towards their students, works great on a smartphone, but we also got a lot of people that uses it as a file system, and that doesn’t always work so good on smartphones as they might not be able to read the specific type of document on their phone. If we had everything as PDF it would make it less of a problem, and if they had everything on canvas as pages then this would have scaled down while your on the phone as well.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «Do you have any other data that could help us in our search of making Canvas better?»
  2. Per Olav: » The last information we gathered were the interaction data from 2018. We haven’t done any data gathering in 2019, and that is primarily because of the ruleset of something called GTPR that tells us what kind of information we are allowed to use. We want to make sure what data we can look at and what we can analyze until we get a signal from UNIT that it is legally okay for us to do so. A new wind that is coming is called Learning Analysis, that uses all these data to determine what learning methods that have good effect, what might not have such a good effect, how the stream of student are and so on, but we can not go into this data yet. America and China has gone to the extreme when it comes to learning analysis as their laws around personal privacy is lacking. In China this has gone to far, as liking a particular band might not get you accepted to certain schools as they have data that says their former students that also liked that band did not do so well.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «What is Canvas best at?»
  2. Per Olav: «I’m a critical person, so i usually see things in systems that usually doesn’t work way before i see what’s actually working, but i do think it works great in the way that Teachers don’t really need a lot of training nor time to use Canvas to inform and share material needed for their lectures. The way Canvas gives you to inform and spread information to students. Other than that there is very many things that are okay, not good, but okay. Many of the things are acceptable, but in my eyes as could have been done better, but that is probably because my developer background kicking in. They got to get some credit on their uptime and the fast communication from school to instructure and visa versa is really good. They have an extremely good procedure when it comes to fix problems and push those updates out. Every third week they send out a new update, and the size of these updates are regularly huge and comes with a lot of fixes.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «is it anything you miss in Canvas that you think could be implemented?»
  2. Per Olav: «In many ways i feel like Canvas already have to many functions. There are so much information, so many things that you can do and to keep in mind. So i understand that for many teachers and students Canvas can become a bit overwhelmed. I wish Canvas was only a basic site; a platform for teachers to inform about their course, deliver assignments and get reports on those assignments – and that’s it. That you could instead add other services to your basic Canvas platform. Canvas uses something called L-10, that allows us to integrate a lot of tools to their site. If it was up to me i would have putted a lot less functions on Canvas and made sure those were operating at a high level, and then have each institution get the additional functions they themself wanted to add.»

 

  1. Interviewer: «Thank you for your time and for helping us out with this Expert Review.»
  2. Per Olav: «You’re welcome.»

 

Findings: Not only us students have problems when it comes to navigate Canvas. Canvas seems to have a lot of problems, but less than other competitors LMS. It would probably be hard for us to find information regarding Canvas and stats in for the Norwegian region. Almost half of all interactions with Canvas is by smartphones, even though it ain’t compatible for many things there (not all phones can open all the different files, the website would look weird on some phones etc.) Good uptime on Canvas, good support from Instructure. Canvas might be over complicated – can we make a clean version with the L-10 plugins? Some restrictions to what type of files teachers can post might benefit smartphone users.»

 

 

1.1 | Exploration through Literature Search

Preparation.

Heading into the empathy phase from the idea phase we had set ourselves a topic. We had the ideas ready and knew what we could search for, but without defining it even more we would get a broad spectre of sources from all across the internet. And most of them wouldn’t really be relevant to what we needed. So before we could define even more what we were looking for in the next stage of our research period we needed to define what exactly we were looking for. We had already decided that our topic would be about digital learning platforms and their use as a socializing platform, or rather the lack of ways to socialize through the platform. 

We started out trying to scout for information using the keywords “learning platform” and quickly found out it gave too broad and too many irrelevant hits for us to continue using that phrase. However, adding the word “Digital” in front of learning platforms gave us a more specific and more pinpointed direction. We would learn that the term “digital learning platform” was more often referred to as “Learning Management System”, or LMS for short. Both of these keywords gave us accurate and search results more satisfactory to what we imagined we would find. 

In the preparation period, we set some goals for what information we wanted to find and where to find it. We wanted to not only find useful information but information that was relevant to what we had in mind. Doing the pre-work we would heighten the chance of finding relevant information that we could use.

The main goal was to create some sort of overview of what people had already done before us. Both in content and if someone had already tried what we are trying to do before us. Creating this plan would remove unnecessary researching and give us a clear path for what we were actually looking for. And if what we were initially looking for where the right way for us to find information or if we were heading the wrong direction.

In a way, the goal was to find answers to what we were questioning. Answers we could use to further develop our understanding of communication systems for higher education. But where we find answers we want to create more questions and see if there is a way we could make it even better, or go even further. We also wanted to update ourselves on the field we were researching so we could understand and go more in-depth on the topic we set for ourselves.

 

To ensure the quality of information we were basing our research around, we had to make sure we used the right keywords for our particular subject. It was important for the group that we did not get unrelated results, so we could manage time and eliminate unnecessary reading for efficiency. 

For the sake of our attention to research a communication platform between students and professors, we made sure our keywords matched our initial thoughts around that subject. Some keywords weighted more than others for instance “Student”, “Professor”, “Communication”; and “Collaboration” was heavily favored contrary to “Pupil”, “Teacher”, “Instructors” and “Cooperation”. 

It was also important to narrow down our keywords for the right conditions, so the review applies to our field of research. We used Google Scholar because its more relevant for academic use, and we eliminate the possibilities of false information, seeing that research papers always, or most often, have a source of information you can track.

During the search, selection -and evaluation step of this assignment, we ruffled through about 25 – 35 research papers and study reports to disclose which papers should be excluded for our review, and what papers were relevant for further exploration of answering our questions.

 
As stated earlier, we carefully preferred keywords and used them for further progressing in the assignment. The image ***above/below*** are the headlines of the papers we chose to take a closer look at. Some papers were first looked upon as if they were outdated, but at a closer look, they applied for some reasons as being relevant when it comes to information flow between participants in a group project – even though our goals are targeting online platforms, and the research did not. We then realized the papers were participants of trials didn’t commence online, it still had relevance to our subject based on how the way of communication was achieved. 

Reading through what we found and what we deemed to be relevant to our exercise we found out a couple of things. Some information that yielded more important factors that often would come again and again and repeat itself. And some information where shortly explained and didn’t get as much light as other blocks of information. This is natural in a scientific text, however, sometimes the what we found in the less represented topics and problems might actually be the foundation to the bigger and more relevant problems. 

A topic we found revealed that the digital learning platform would work wonders for a single student who worked by themselves, but when putting the same students in groups the effectivity would drastically drop, but only when outside the classroom. So if we look closer to that we see that group projects in itself aren’t the problem. The students managed it well and would work efficiently in the classroom and complete the task given to them to finish by the hour. 

So, what exactly is the problem then? Well, when another set of students or even the same students were given the exact same exercise but were told to do it at home after school in groups. They would fall behind or even drop the exercise. Of course, some groups managed to do it as easily as before and had no problems at all. But the majority of the groups fell behind to some degree.

What exactly caused them to fall behind? There could be multiple factors at play, one would be that when at home, the urgency to prioritize the assignment would considerably drop and the student would have other tasks or other things to do. This problem didn’t get answered in any of the papers we found. There were multiple thoughts and possible deciding factors, but no clear answer. We will go into the factors shortly. 

As there was no clear answer to what, who, why, etc. We set our attention towards this and found a possible problem that we could focus even further on. Ask more questions, represent the problem in words, find a solution. Was our initial topic relevant to the final possible problem? Some of the points that came up would be that at home, the student would prioritize differently and fall behind. Maybe the student had other tasks that needed the prioritization or would daily needs (dinner, breaks, etc) get in the way of effectively doing the task given. Some might ignore the importance of the task and procrastinate because when at home you are home. Other activities such as gaming, hobbies, TV or other digital viewing platforms would get the student’s attention.

Even students who were grouped with friends were found to fall behind, even with the tools to communicate through social media and the likes of voice chat services they didn’t quite get to work and complete the task effectively. That might conclude that it might not be the student’s relationship to each other on the group but something else. We raised a question to this, what if the problem is not in where the student finds themselves but where the students communicate. What if communication platforms that are unrelated to the digital learning platform actually help to worsen the effectivity. Since the communication platform is unrelated to learning and education they set the mood to be something else, as they would use platforms they often use to other tasks or hobbies.

Hear us out: When one opens a program like Discord (digital communication software, both text-based and voice chat-based) or Facebook you have a certain set of expectations and feeling towards the app. You often use the application for something else that is not education-related at all. The application Discord is often used amongst friends and groups of people defined by either hobby or other activities. Servers dedicated to games and play by friends is a huge majority of what the platform is about. And when you open said platform your brain automatically assigns itself to a state that is closer to what you usually are when you open a platform you use for other activities. Your brain might have a hard time focusing on a task and you might sidetrack or end up doing the activities you usually do when you gather a group of people on this specific platform. The same principle would go for facebook as you often use the facebook chat for small talk and banter rather than important messages that has a more important factor.

If we tunnel vision ourselves around this idea that nothing else matters, it doesn’t matter if the student is home or at school. But rather what setting the brain sets itself to when you are doing the task. Then there could be a solution to be found in all of this. If we could then integrate something as easy as a chat to the digital learning platform then it would execute some of the mistakes made in the other programs. The mindset would be on school and would be set as such. Creating a bubble for the student to be in his own mindset, creating a space where the student has less of a chance to sidetrack and fall off.

This is our theory from what we gathered of information across the relevant texts. We had to read through a lot of blocks of text to find somewhat relevant information and even in the relevant articles a lot of them didn’t really have that much to do with the stance we set for our first 

As we dug into the different articles we kept running into the same reasons why many of these LMS were created in the first place; Someone had an idea of improving a tool and adapt it for the future. As incredible advances in technology have reached our classrooms in the last few decades, LMSs have allowed educators and students to interact remotely and reveal the enormous potential of distance learning and online education.

The first of these to come to our mind is Canvas, the one we as students use here at Høyskolen i Østfold (HIOF).

 

Some specific research into Canvas as an LMS yielded us with the information on how this started and we got some direct insight into the concept of «Why?» this LMS was designed and its purpose.

 

in the early 21st century, web-based media and social media sites started to expand and develop rapidly.

Two computer scientists, Devlin Daley and Brian Whitmer from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, saw the need to integrate this ease of use in LMSs. They were frustrated by the learning tools available to them which focused more on administrators than developing connections between students and teachers.

In 2008 they founded Instructure. They wanted to create an LMS that functional, intuitive and would capitalize on the technological skills the users already possessed. This LMS would be called Canvas.

 

Source: https://www.instructure.com/about/our-story

 

John, R (2014) Canvas LMS Course Design. Livery Place

    Packt Publishing Ltd.

Source: https://books.google.no/books?hl=no&lr=&id=kulaBAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT8&dq=canvas+LMS&ots=QAdpBwRjbQ&sig=Sqykiim3fouuQ-RD_t47MunOMZU&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=canvas%20LMS&f=false

 

As more research led us to how huge this really is and the extreme variations of what could be the benefits and what new problems could occur out of this we decided to narrow down our search material to Canvas oriented problems and to challenge the problems we find for better user experience.

 

In such a rapidly growing field of science and education, there are bound to be both short-term and long-term problems that come along with the new innovations and improvements.

When it comes to LMSs many such problems have been identified and we are adding as we find them.

 

Ashraf Jalal Yousef Zaidieh wrote «The use of social networking in education: Challenges and opportunities» where he encountered problems like teachers showing them unsuitable material, bullying, sexual predator, harassment by peers, privacy, real friendship, miscommunication and the chance for it to consume a lot of extra time.

There are a lot of good things as well though; Increased Flexibility, Repeatable, convenience and accessibility.

His conclusion was that there are obstacles and benefits by integrating education and Social networking. If we can get a better grip and understanding of what part of the flexibility and repeatable aspects of Canvas people tend to use and like we can use that to our advantage when it boils down to the solutions we make.

Source: Zaidieh, A.J.Y (2012) The Use of Social Networking in Education: Challenges and Opportunities. World of Computer Science and Information Technology Journal (WCSIT),2(1)

1.3 | Cultural Probe (DRAFT)

This blog post will be updated soon, and the writings below are just temporarily!

About our Probe.

The main goal of our probe is to invoke feelings and frustration when the user is forced to use canvas. Having the user who in this case is students, mainly around HIOF that uses Canvas to a day to day basis, and makes them do tasks that are to some degree possible but not optimal. They will then write down their feelings after attempting to complete the tasks given. The subject will also be asked to give some insight into how and what the user found frustrating. This will hopefully give us some information about what we can do for the user and what the user wants from a designer who would be to rewrite or rework the subject (In this case the Canvas website/system).

The probe will help us achieve our goal when we provoke the person to do something that should have been easy, but is then found to be hard. The user will hopefully write down what the user feels in the time the user is feeling at that moment. This will give us some insight if the problems are actually as big as we make it out to be or if the actual perception and experience of the canvas system are satisfiable to the regular user.

Our Probe project is planned to be presented in a portable probe box. The box will contain some daily tasks to be done within a certain amount of days. The tasks are mainly emotional and will give us insight into the user’s feelings and experiences. Some of the tasks are even meant to be impossible to solve on Canvas alone; how will our user react to this?

Our probe boxes.

So far, our probe box will contain these items:

– Post-Its: One for our tasks, and the other for the user’s replies.
– Something to write with.
– An instruction note; a short explanation what the user need to do, and why it’s important they have to be as sincere as they can.
– ?
– A piece of candy, as a thank you for participating in our little project!

Suggestions and Idea Phase Draft.

Education directed:

A collective way for bachelor students to communicate and work with group projects.

Giving bachelor students a way to share projects, communicate and work with each other on one platform. Instead of having multiple platforms for each topic, one for communication, one for teamwork, etc. Spearheaded as a tool for groups. Directed toward bachelor students and master students who often work with academic writing and academic work in groups.

-A Canvas app with a live chat function, with the tools of Onedrive/Google Docs. 

 

Health directed:

All-around health care app for people who are unsure of where and how.

A simple way to find and communicate with your respective health care representatives. 

Creating a One-To-All communication way for people who are unsure of where to go or how to book an appointment. Encouraging people who otherwise would ignore the health problems to actually seek out medical assistance. Simple and collective way to find communication information like phone numbers to the clinic etc. 

Gather relevant health information in the same play and give the user a way to log in to the service making the experience relevant to the user in question.

 

Museum directed:

Ways to give museums a more engaging way to relay information to visitors.

Instead of bringing museums online, removing the actual definition of a museum we should be able to bring a more interactive and intuitive way for museums to teach and display its information. Encouraging people to actually travel to museums to collect and experience knowledge in a way they cant experience them on the internet. Giving the museum something a youtube video or article cant give the visitor. 

Digitalize museums, but not in the way of removing them from the physical space that is a museum. But giving them modern and digital solutions for physical visitors to explore and learn in a unique way.

(Think animatronics, animation, sound, smell, taste, mood, tasks to complete, etc.)

Cultural Probes Exercise.

We chose this article from the website leannefischler.co.uk.

-What is the design goal of the cultural probe?

The goal of the cultural probe was to make people question their consumerism and give feedback to the designer. A side goal of the project was to find out people’s relationships with their items and physical items.

-What is the probe made of (artifacts & tasks)?

A literal wooden box. You were to put the items that meant the most to you in the box to create conversations with other people. It’s important that it was a wooden box.

-What inspiration did the design team get from the probe results?

They got more inspired to make wooden boxes that one day could be a part of the world as the objects that were in them.