5. Testing


The final part of the project is to test our prototype, which is made on Adobe XD. The prototype has limited interactive functionalities, so we make sure to inform- and guide our participants. The functionalities that will be tested are the login page, the timeline with updates and questions, and the messaging system. 

There are going to be three participants who fit our criteria of being either a teacher or parent. The test is going to be focused on the user’s experience while navigating through the app, which will then form the user’s opinion of the concept. The group has therefore made up some scenarios and tasks, and we will take on the role as one host and three observers. The host will give the user the basic context they need to understand the scenario, and they will be the lead questioner for the follow-up questions. The observers will watch the user experience the prototype. 

While the test is being conducted, the user will be encouraged to do the think aloud technique. This way we will be able to gather qualitative data, such as a user’s reaction, body language and writing down important quotes. The entirety of the test will be audio recorded. 


Goals and hypothesis

  • Our goal is to test if the app is ideal for teachers and parents as a communication platform. 
  • Our hypothesis is that the app should make it more organized for teachers and parents to communicate. 


Mockup description

The purpose of the application is to create a safe place where parents and teachers can ask questions and share info. Its function is to share general information between parents and teachers, both private and public. The public one is a timeline, where parents can ask a question and get answers from other parents and/or teachers. This is meant to save the teacher some time, instead of individually answering questions many parents might be wondering about. On this timeline, teachers can also give updates on special events (field trips, holiday-related activities, etc.) happening during the school day. It should also be possible to share general information privately with individuals regarding a child or appointments when needed.  

A presumed positive effect of using this app will be better communication between not only teachers and parents, but between parents as well. Parents can answer parental questions if they know the correct info. In addition, the app is meant to replace text messages- and phone calls on a teacher’s private phone after work. This is intended to give the teacher more freedom regarding when they want to- or have time to respond to messages. 



Our solution is going to be evaluated by one parent, one teacher, and one young student who studies education in their 4th year. They are deemed relevant because they are a part of the app’s user base. We included an upcoming teacher to test how they would like to use such an app in the future. 


Tasks and scenarios


Du er en kontaktlærer for 5.klasse, og dere er på en skogtur, hvilket er en mer spesiell hendelse. Du vet at en del av foreldrene til elevene dine ønsker å få litt oppdateringer av hva barna deres gjør I skoletiden. Du tar et par bilder du ønsker å dele på tidslinjen. 


  • Logg inn på appen som en lærer.
  • “Last opp” bildet med en liten kommentar og “se” at den kommer på tidslinjen. 

Klokken er åtte på kvelden, og du har tid til å sjekke appen. Noen ganger er det aldri noe nytt å sjekke, men akkurat I kveld er det ny aktivitet. Du ser at en forelder har spurt et offentlig spørsmål tidligere på dagen, men at en annen forelder har svart bra på det. du kan kort skrive at svaret er korrekt, og kan bevege deg til private meldinger. Det er to foreldre som har spurt deg om noe, en om en elev og en annen om tid til et nytt møte. Du bruker et par minutter på å svare, så lukker du appen og kan fortsette med dagen.


  • Naviger deg til meldingsboksen.
  • Trykk deg inn på den første personen som har sendt en ny melding. 



Du er en forelder til en 1., 5., og 7.klassing som går på samme skole. I lunsjpausen på jobb tenker du på den skoleturen 5.klassingen din skulle på den dagen. Du logger deg inn på appen som en foresatt, velger riktig barn å sjekke og ser en oppdatering fra kontaktlæreren på tidslinjen. Lenger ned på tidslinjen ser du et spørsmål en forelder spurte offentlig dagen før og du kan trykke på ikonet for å se kommentarer.
Samtidig som du er inne på appen, ønsker du å avtale et møte med kontaktlæreren til 1.klassingen din siden barnet ditt har lærevansker og ønsker en muntlig oppdatering. Du legger fra deg mobilen og venter til læreren har tid til å svare. 


  • Logg deg inn på appen som en forelder. 
  • Velg “Nora” og se oppdateringen fra læreren. 
  • Scroll deg lenger ned til et foreldrespørsmål. 
  • Trykk på ikonet der det står at det er 2 kommentarer. Se på kommentarene. 
  • Øverst til høyre er det et ikon der du kan navigere deg tilbake for å velge et annet barn. Velg deretter “Julie”. 
  • Gå inn på meldingsboksen og trykk inn på kontaktlæreren. 
  • Send en melding. 

These tasks are important for us to understand the user, to test our hypothesis, and to see how our prototype can be improved. 

We evaluated the testing by using the think aloud technique, so we can listen to what the user is thinking whilst experiencing the prototype. Additionally, the host can ask some follow-up questions after. We documented everything with an audio recording. 



The teacher student

The participant seemed calm while testing. She thinks the login page is straightforward and says: “You don’t need to be an IT-student to understand it.” The design is like existing social media, which she thinks is nice because then you wouldn’t have to learn something completely new. The messaging system is clean and it’s just like any other messaging system a person with a smart phone has experienced. There isn’t much noise on the screen and it’s nice to get clear notifications when you have received a message. 

After the few tasks were done, we followed up with some questions. When asked what she thinks of the application, she said: “It looks very professional in the aspect of a parent-teacher communication app. So, it’s important that it’s not identical to Facebook, because there must be a professional barrier too.” We asked her how she feels about the concept of having multiple communication methods in one app. She then answered it would be helpful to have one platform to focus on. However, one problem is that probably not everyone is receptive to have an app, though that’s maybe more the older generation. She says: “These days many people are on social media and are receptive to new technology. I think this is a nice solution, IF [every parent in the class] decides to join it.” 

The participant was also asked about her opinion on checking the app after work. She recognizes the dilemma of needing to be there for the children and their guardians and needing to take a step back from work. She says: “There isn’t any right answer. I know from my experience that I would like to be ON all the time; however, it sucks to be that even when you have time off. I think [the app] could be a helpful way to communicate with parents.” 

In the end, she adds: “The update function is nice, but it could be better if you have a function that makes you see which parent has seen the post. Because it’s difficult to know which parents receive the information teachers send home on papers.” Another thing that was pointed out was the size of the icons, about how they could be bigger. 


The teacher

During the testing, the participant said out loud calmly which steps she would do to reach the task’s goal, like in the login process the participant said she would have to choose teacher, which affiliation she belongs to, username and password, and then tap on the login-button. After the first scenario and tasks the participant said: “The thing I like is that it’s similar to things I recognize, like Facebook, and that way it’s easier for me to navigate. On the first page, however, I wished that I was already logged in as a 5th grade teacher, but at the same time it could be silly if I were a teacher for 3rd grade and 5th grade, so then it would be nice to have it like the first page is showing now.” 

Once the tasks were done the participant told us what she thinks about the app. “You should hurry up and develop the app before anyone else does, since it is something that we need. [For classes], use Facebook in a closed group which isn’t fully legal, so it would be better to use an app which has a more legal approach, which is good, then I would know that each parent is also in this, since some parents don’t wish to be on Facebook. I am also not interested when parents send me friend requests on Facebook, it’s better to divide private life and work life.” The participant then adds that she wanted to see what was on the app’s menu function, because on the prototype there was no content. Her reason for this was that the participant could give advice on what was missing or if there was any unnecessary content for the menu. 

At the end the participant was asked for the thoughts on the overall design for the app. This made the participant wonder why the design was blue, was it to be like Facebook? And why are the users able to give likes? One of the observers then explained to the participant that it was for users to give a reaction on the post, but not fully like in Facebook where users get to react with happy or angry faces. The participant also thinks the design is boring, but not in a bad way, just that it’s simple and it’s hard to get lost. 


The parent

The parent started the test by logging in choosing the parent option, but she spent a couple of seconds finding the login button. She then proceeds to choose the child she wants an update on. On the main page she can see the update the teacher posted and comment on it. She said that it was very logical and nice to use. She also pointed out that it was very natural to use because it was a little bit like Facebook, which makes it understandable for the participant.  

After browsing the main page, she than finds the button back to change to another child of hers. She spends little time on navigating through the prototype and finding the right pages for the tasks. Lastly, she finds the private message box where she can communicate with the teacher and send a message.  

After the test she shared her thoughts about the prototype. She said, “As a mom would wish for a page where I have all my children at once and not just one page for each of them”. She thought this would be good, but she also recognized the fact it could become messy and not know what information is for which child. She said that the concept was good, and she thinks this is something that is needed in schools. She commented that it is a good thing to have all information gathered in one place, and that it would make it easier to keep up with everything. Lastly, she said that is good that there are two options to communicate where you can choose between sending private message to the teacher or publish something in the class page for everyone to answer. The option for parents to answer questions too, could strengthen the communication between parents. 



The overall feedback of the design and concept was positive, except for a few minor improvementsAll participants agreed and liked how familiar the app was to other social media they recognized, like Facebook. Therefore, it wasn’t too difficult to use or navigate the app. 

The participants said the application idea was good, because it’s more professional and legal in comparison to for instance Facebook. The participants agreed it would be helpful to gather multiple forms of communication into one app. It was also nice to have the option to either send a private message or ask a public questionIt was mentioned that parents answering public questions could strengthen the communication between parents. 

A participant mentioned that not everyone might be receptive to use an app. However, this might be more the older generation. 



After testing and receiving feedback from all the participants, we gathered the information to find out if there needs to be changes to the current prototype. 

  • The teacher participant mentioned she would like an automatic login. However, though it’s not showed in the prototype, it is intended to be a function.  
  • Make content for the menu. 
  • All participants had some problems clicking on the icons, so it would be better to make the icons bigger. 
  • Maybe change likes to a “seen”-function that lets the teacher see which parents have seen the update. 
  • The parent participant said she would want a joint timeline, where she could view all the updates on her children, instead of having to go back and change to a different child every time. The updates would then need a small text saying which child or class this update belongs to. 



According to the feedback we received from the three participants, our hypothesis for the app to make communication between teachers and parents more organized is correct. The application gathers multiple forms of communication into one. It is easy to contact a teacher, ask public questions, or give updates to the parents. The teacher can get an overview of which parents has received the information. Additionally, the design of the app is similar to existing social media, so it makes it easier to navigate the appregardless of the technological starting point of the user.  

The app is ideal for teachers and parents as a communication platform, and according to the teacher participant, we should “develop the app before anyone else does, since it is something that we need. 

The future plans for the app are to: 

  • Further develop and improve the prototype. 
  • Test the new prototype. 
  • If there are no need to change the new prototype, we could then develop it. 



4. Prototype

Look and Feel prototype

The prototype of our parent-teacher app was made in Adobe XD.

The first the user is met with when opening the app is the login page. Here they have the choice of logging in as either a teacher or a guardian. The next step is to choose their affiliation, which school they belong to. There will not be a way to make an account through the app, for security reasons. The username and password will then be made and handed out by the school. There will also be an option to remember the login, so that it won’t be time-consuming for the user.


If you choose to continue as a guardian and have several children going to the same school, you’ll have the option to choose which child’s page you want to view.


Continuing as a guardian, a feed will be displayed. Not only can teachers can give updates on special events or give reminders, but parents can ask general questions that aren’t child- or appointment related.


As a guardian you can also view your personal mailbox. Here you can chat personally with the main teacher(s) of your child’s class, and ask questions related to your child or an appointment.


Continuing as a teacher, an identical feed to a parent’s will display. Teachers can give updates, but also answer parental questions. Not only teachers can answer the questions, but other parents too if they have the correct info.


The teacher can chat individually with each parent of the class if needed.


Video prototype

View the video here.


3.2 Personas, Scenarios, and Storyboards

The Teacher


42-year-old Randi Berntsen is an elementary school teacher for a 3rd grade in the city of Halden. In this class she has the main responsibility for the pupils. She’s been a teacher for thirteen years after graduating with a master’s degree. 

Approximately one year ago, she got divorced. As an effect of this, she’s become less social in private and would rather spend time with her seven-year-old son, who she shares the custody of. Therefore, she wants less contact from parents outside of work and more personal time. However, Randi is an emphatic person who still will answer calls and text messages even if it affects her private time. 

At work, she wants to keep the work phone, and to save time, she wants to plan parental appointments beforehand. Her goal is to cooperate with the parent so that the child does better academically and socially. What motivates her is her wish for every child to do well and feel like they can do well. 



Setting (Where, when):  A teacher spending personal time without needing to respond to parents straight away. 

Actors (who): A teacher after coming home from work, and different parents via an app.

Goals or objectives (what, why): To keep in touch with parents without creating too much workload for the teacher, because Randi still wants to cooperate with the parents so that the child can do better. 

Actions and events (how): To answer parents’ public general questions and private child-related / appointment-related questions without it being time-consuming for the teacher after work.


One day after work, Randi is out walking her dog with her son in hand. Usually, she would have been contacted by one or two parents by now. However, after the release of a new teacher-parent app (that combines different ways of communication), Randi can enjoy her walk and chat with her son after a stressful day at work. When she gets home, Randi checks her phone for notifications. She clicks the notification and her phone automatically logs into the app, since she’s made sure the app remembers her login.  

The screen shows the front page, the timeline. Here, one of the parents of her 3rd grade pupils has asked about the trip the following day. It’s clear that the question has received answers from other parents, and Randi only needs to confirm with a short text. This way other parents wondering about the same thing don’t have to individually ask the teacher, and Randi can focus on other important things, such as answering private questions.  

The private way of communication is only supposed to be used for planning appointments, or for questions about a pupil’s academic or social development. In the application, her inbox shows two new messages. One is from a parent asking about specific info on their child, and the other wants to schedule a face-to-face appointment. Randi only needs a few minutes to give good feedback and propose a date. When finished, she simply closes the app and calls it a day. 



The Parent


David Dahl is a 27-year-old male who lives in Fredrikstad and works five days a week as a carpenter in his own company DBK. He is happily married, with three kids to take care of.  

David is a very social active person and he loves to talk a lot. Every day David drives his kids to school before going to work from 08-16. David is very kind but strict parent who may become a bit overprotective. When at work David tend to worry a lot about his kids at school, because he rarely gets any information about how they are doing.  

David needs a way to communicate with the teacher and get updates on how his kids are doing at school 



Setting (Where, when):  A parent who is at work, but want to find out how his son is doing at school. 

Actors (who): A parent who is having a lunch break at work.  

Goals or objectives (what, why): To know how his children are doing at school, because David is a worried guy and always looks after his kids. 

Actions and events (how): To receive updates on his children and contact the teacher about private child- and appointment-related matters. 


It is mid-day and David is just starting his break at work. While eating his amazing sandwich, he decides to check if there have been any updates on his kids at school.  

David takes up his phone and opens the app, which the school advised him to use for better parent-teacher communication. He then logs in with his user. After logging in, David is on the front page. There he quickly sees that the class is on a field trip that day (which is a special event) and that everyone is doing great. He can also see an attached picture where he finds his son having an amazing time. Additionally, David decides to send the teacher a private message to ask about the next face-to-face appointment. Then he closes the app and goes back to work.   




3.1 Generating Ideas

How did we generate ideas?

We transitioned into the ideation process in class, where we spent 30 minutes brainstorming ideas that could fit our problem definition: “How can teachers and parents (who) communicate more frequently using a smart phone (what) without creating more workload for teachers (why).”  

We wrote our ideas, weird-, related or not, into a mind map and elaborated what we wanted for each of them (red boxes)as a way to build on each other’s ideas.  For each idea we also included a fitting picture. This way we started the process in a more cognitive and visual manner.  


A picture of the ideas


How did we select the 3 most preferred ideas?

When we were going to select the 3 most preferred ideas, we used the dot voting method, and gave the best ideas points from 1-5, where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest. In the end the app idea got the most votes with 20 points. The other two ideas that got the most votes were the holographic watch (17 points) and the blog (12 points). 

The purpose of the application would be to create a safe place where parents and teachers can ask questions and share info. Its function would be to share general information between parents and teachers, both private and public. The public one would be like a forum or timeline, where parents can ask a question and get answers from other parents and/or teachers. This is meant to save the teacher some time, instead of individually answering questions many parents might be wondering about. On this timeline, teachers can also give updates on special events (field trips, holiday-related activities, etc.) happening during the school day. It should also be possible to share general information privately with individuals regarding a child or appointments when needed. 

A presumed positive effect of using this app will be better communication between not only teachers and parents, but between parents as well. Parents can answer parental questions if they know the correct info. In addition, the app is meant to replace text messages- and phone calls on a teacher’s private phone after work. This is intended to give the teacher more freedom regarding when they want to- or have time to respond to messages.


2. Define your research questions

Which method we selected and why

We used the affinity diagram method, because it seemed like the easiest and most structured way to organize our findings. Since we had a lot of information, the method made it easy to manage complexity and move the notes quickly. The affinity diagram also fosters collaboration within the group, where we can individually come up with ideas and then connect them afterwards. 


How we applied the method selected

First, we individually wrote down pieces of data on a mind-mapping website for about half an hour. In this part we went through our content (literature review, expert interviews, and cultural probes) and produced a list of the most important insights, such as words, phrases and sentences. When we came together as a group, we looked for natural groupings, patterns, and what categories these belonged to. We ended up with the main categories: parents, teachers, and both. Beneath these we placed the related data and after a period of reflection we grouped them into smaller groups. These were labeled: responsibility, needs, problems, and communication.

The results of our Affinity Diagram

In our diagram we have divided what’s considered a parent’s-, a teacher’s, and both of their responsibilities regarding a child. This includes highlights such as a parent’s responsibility for the child’s upbringing; the teacher’s responsibility for the child’s education, and that they need to cooperate, be actively involved and responsible to positively affect the child’s academic- and social life.

The next category, called needs, addresses what our representative parents and teachers want when it comes to teacher-parent communication. From a parental perspective, they want a platform where they can share information, plus they want to reduce communication that is only initiated by a child’s negative behavior. The teachers want to plan appointments beforehand, so they can understand the situation and therefor be prepared. They also want to only be contacted via their work phone, and not through a personal phone. A mutual want is more frequent and personal communication, to gather information about the child, and an easy way to share information.

The communication category includes different used methods for teachers and parents to stay in contact. Because of our interviews and cultural probes, we could also include some thoughts and feelings attached to each method.

After thoroughly analyzing the problem categories, there was one conflict in particular that stood out and piqued our interest. According to our research, there are disagreements between parents and teachers regarding time and availability. On one hand, parents would like more frequent communication, and even the possibility to contact teachers after their work hours. On another hand, teachers would like to use a work phone and keep the communication outside of work minimal. This is something we can keep in mind when thinking of a problem definition. 


Our problem definition

We have come to the conclusion that our problem definition will be: How can teachers and parents (who) communicate more frequently using a smart phone (what) without creating more workload for teachers (why). 


1.3 Cultural Probes

Describing our cultural probe package

What is our design goal? Who are our users? 

Our design goal is to explore the needs, desires, and challenges parents and teachers face in their everyday life, which will help us learn about the people we are designing for. The users are teachers who teach in 1.-7- grade, and parents who have kids in these grades. 

How we thought the probes would help us achieve the goal? 

The probe(s) will help us to understand what kind of feelings and thoughts teachers and parents have in their everyday life, regarding communication between the two parties. This understanding will make us inspired to come up with ideas and design possibilities.  

What is the probe made of? 

The package consists of three probes: a diary that has a few tasks, colored pencils, and self-made stickers. 

The tasks are as following:  

  • To write some general info about themselves. 
  • A mood diary where they will use the colors to describe their feelings for how the communication went that day and write down what forms of communication were used. 
  • To fill in some text to a few statements. 
  • divided box with four icons of communication, and they will write what they feel about each of them. 
  • A box where they stick the forms of communication (self-made stickers) they prefer and explain why.


Pictures of the answers we got

What was most insightful or inspirational?

The most insightful information we gathered was that most of the participants were happy to communicate face to face and through e-mail, but some were happy with using phones for daily communication. The results also show that phones are mostly used when something has happened, which is something we could keep in mind of when we are proceeding to the define phase. 

One of the participants mentioned that text messages and phone calls made them anxious, because the interaction mostly meant something bad or negative had happened. This piece of information connects to data we found in the literature review. 

What surprised you the most?

Something that surprised us was that the two teachers had very different feelings about the different kinds of communication. One of them was very happy with communication through the phone and text messages, while the other said it was a very tiring and stressful way of communication. One teacher preferred to communicate through phone and face to face, and the other preferred e-mail.  

What probe results will help you with future designs?

These results will help us see what kind of devices we should focus on in the futurewhich most likely would be a smart phone.


1.2 Expert Interview

Who was interviewed? 

  1. A mother of two, who has a child in 2nd grade, and one in kindergarten. 
  2. A female teacher with many years of experience, who now is mainly teaching kids with special needs in 1.-4. grade. 


Where was the interview conducted? 

  1. The first interview was conducted at the college university of Østfold, in a group room. 
  2. The second one was conducted at the school, in a group room, where the teacher works. 


How was the interview conducted? 

All of the group members contributed to making the questions. Before the interview we separated responsibilities among the people in our group. Primarily, one person was asking the questions, but the others could ask questions one by one afterwards.

For both the interviews we showed appreciation for the person’s time, and guided them through the processwhat we wanted to know and that we had some questions about their experiences and thoughts. They signed the consent form which gives them anonymity, and which tells them the sound record will only be used by us and will be deleted afterwards. 

We started the recording, asked our questions and showed interest by nodding or confirming what they’ve told us. At first, we asked some of our predefined questions, and depending on what the person said, we asked some questions that came to mind. This way it would become more of a natural conversation, and also a semi-structured interview. 

Afterwards, we once again thanked them for their time and asked if they wanted to continue to participate in the project – for further, upcoming tasks.


What was the theme(s) of the interview? 

The communication between teachers and parents, and each of the parties experiences. 


Why was the theme(s) chosen? 

The theme was chosen in order to get personal input on the communication between the teachers and parents. In addition, we chose it to explore people’s own experiences and what they might find challenging about the information flow. 


Interview Guide (questions) 

  • How do you communicate with the parent(s)/ teacher(s) of your pupils? 
  • What do you as a parent/teacher think about the existing communication system between the parent and teacher? 
  • Does the teacher/parent provide enough information about your child/pupil? 
  • Do you have time to attend all the teacherparent conferences? Do you feel like all parents have the time to attend all the teacher-parent conferences? 
  • What is challenging about the everyday communication between parents and teachers? 

Parent questions

  • Hvordan kommuniserer du med lærerne til barnet ditt? 
  • Hva synes du om det nåværende kommunikasjonssystemet mellom foreldre og lærere? 
  • Hva synes du er utfordrende med den hverdagslige kommunikasjonen mellom foreldre og lærere? 
  • Synes du at lærerne formidler nok informasjon om barnet ditt? 
  • Har du tid til å komme til alle foreldremøter, og lignende? 

Teacher questions

  • Hvordan kommuniserer du med foreldrene til elevene dine? 
  • Hva synes du om det nåværende kommunikasjonssystemet mellom foreldre og lærere? 
  • Hva synes du er utfordrende med den hverdagslige kommunikasjonen mellom foreldre og lærere? 
  • Synes du at foreldrene formidler nok informasjon om barnet deres/eleven? 
  • Føler du at alle foreldrene har tid til å komme til foreldremøter, og lignende? 



The First Interview: The Parent

Kan du fortelle meg hvordan du kommuniserer med lærerne til barnet ditt? 

SMS eller e-post.

Og hva synes du om det nåværende kommunikasjonssystemet mellom deg og lærerne? 

Syns ikke at det fungerer bra, og syns at det skal forbedres. 

Hvordan synes du det kan forbedres? 

Jeg skulle ønske det var en plattform for å kunne dele informasjon, og som i barnehagen hvor den yngste sønnen min går, så får vi noen ganger bilder og info om hva som skjer på en app. Noen ganger får vi ark med info fra skolen, men det er mer generell info om ting som skal skje. Så de kunne kanskje sette av en tid hver uke hvor de sender ut et kort “newsletter” med hva som har foregått den uken som gjelder mitt barn eller generelt, sånn at vi blir bedre oppdatert. 

Hva synes du er utfordrende med den hverdagslige kommunikasjonen mellom foreldre og lærere? 

Det er litt upersonlig, og det er vanskelig å få tak i dem fordi de kun har jobbtelefon. Sønnen min går på skole og er flyttet til et midlertidig lokale så vi har ikke det daglige møtet, fordi vi må sette de på bussen og så kjører de. Og i fjor hadde vi bedre kommunikasjon fordi vi så læreren hver dag. 

Det blir altså ikke formidlet nok informasjon om barnet ditt? 

Nei, det blir det ikke. 

Når det er foreldremøter og konferansetimer, har du tid til å være med på alt? 

Ja, men vi bytter litt på det, noen ganger er jeg med, men nå er det litt vanskelig fordi det er så langt unna. 

Så, når det er foreldremøte er det én av foreldrene som møter opp? 


Er dere flinke til å medføre informasjonen til hverandre eller skal læreren gi et sammendrag til begge foreldrene som f.eks. sendes på e-mail? 

Det hadde vært fint, fordi samboeren min han glemmer litt, og det var foreldremøte i går og da var han tilstede. 

Så du skulle ha ønsket at selv om ikke alle foreldrene hadde møtt opp, så ville alle foreldrene kunne ha fått den samme informasjonen selv om du ikke var der personlig? 


Føler du at læreren holder deg godt oppdatert om hvordan sønnen din har det daglig på skolen, eller om sønnen din har god eller negativ oppførsel? 

Nei, det gjorde de i fjor, men nå så hører vi stort sett ingenting med mindre vi sender en melding. Så jeg vet at andre i klassen har problemer med å få tak i læreren, fordi jobbtelefonen hennes fungerer ikke, så hun får ikke beskjed. 

Så du har ingen måter å kontakte de privat, kun i jobbetiden? 

Ja, i fjor kunne vi kontakte de på deres private telefon, men i år så har de fått jobbtelefoner og da svarer de kun i jobbetiden, og da er de stort sett opptatt med å være lærere. 


The Second Interview: The Teacher

Først, så kan jeg spørre deg om du er kontaktlærer …? 

Jeg har en stilling som er litt miks. Jeg er ansvarlig for intensiv opplæring, som dekker 1.-4.trinn. Primært nå er jeg på 1.-2.trinn i forhold til det da, og med de ressursene jeg har, så har jeg fem timer i uka. Så nå jobber jeg med å lage gode grupper i forhold til nivået de er på. Mange har jo ikke lært alle lydene ennå, og klarer ikke å sette lyder og bokstaver sammen, og så er vi på veldig tidlige lesestadiet og sånt. Så det er mye å jobbe med. Nå driver jeg med [spesial pedagogikk] på flere av elevene jeg har hatt siden 1.trinn. Dette er 3. trinn da, følger noen kjente elever der, primært med lesing; lesing og matte. Og så har jeg også- fordi jeg fyller opp for en kontaktlærer som har bibliotekansvaret her på skolen. Så når ho har bibliotektid, så har jeg engelsk på begge- eller hele trinnet, og så har jeg norsk og matte. Så sånn timelærer da, så jeg har på måte ikke en kontaktlærerstilling. Men jeg er jo, i bunn og grunn, førskolelærer med masse tilleggsutdanning, [spesial pedagogikk], og masse fag oppe på der igjen, men norsk som greia mi. Så der er min bakgrunn da, pluss at jeg har jobbet like mye i barnevernet og psykiatri som skolen, men nå har jeg jobbet noen år, så det ca. 15 år på hvert sted. 

Så, mens du har jobbet nå da på 1.-4. trinn, har du hatt noe kontakt med foreldrene til elevene dine? 

Det har jeg, men eh- eh, ikke i det settet her, fordi jeg har på en måte alltid vært student eller hatt andre typer oppgaver, men jeg har vært kontaktlærer tidligere. Og da har jeg vært kontaktlærer fra 1.-4. trinn, bare at det er en stund siden. 

Så, hvordan kommuniserte du med foreldrene da, når du var kontaktlærer? 

Eh, jeg hadde- hvis jeg skal summe meg litt tilbake til da jeg sist hadde 1.klasse, så var det veldig ofte jeg hadde veldig ofte kontakt. Det kunne vært i morgensituasjon, bringing, og så den daglige praten. Men det er alltid sånn at det er noen som kommer mer frampå enn andre i forhold at de har mer behov for å snakke mer med lærerne enn ellers og sånn. Men det er mer på sånt detalj-beskjed-nivå. Det er ikke da du tar de store samtalene på en måte, det rekker du ikke heller. Og det var rett og slett litt uryddig også, fordi at når du skal ta imot klassen din, så har du nok med å hilse inn barn, ikke være på mange nivåer samtidig i hodet, ikke sant, da blir det jo ikke noe særlig kommunikasjon ut av det. Men det kunne vært sånn- det var oftere kontakt i hvert fall med de yngste.  

Eh, og så har vi jo obligatoriske utviklingssamtaler. Vi har jo mobil: beskjeder og mail, ikke sant, så det her slusa seg litt ut. Hva får du på mail, hva får du på mobil, kanskje fravær, «ungen min har gått litt senere hjemmefra i dag, pass på at de kommer. Kan du gi meg beskjed når de kommer.» Den biten der. Til litt mer alvorligere livshendelser og andre type ting som er viktig at læreren får greie på om barns liv da og situasjon. Eh, telefonsamtalen eller direkte som her nå, møter eller på mail, så det var flere kanaler da.

Hva synes du om det kommunikasjonssystemet? Synes du det var bra, eller om det er noe som burde bli forbedret? 

Eh, hvis det går på det sikkerhetsmessige, så synes jeg det var litt dårlig å ha min mobil som jeg alltid måtte sørge for var der, i forhold om barna kom på skolen eller ikke. For vi har jo et ansvar om å vite om barnet er sykt, eller om det er- så nå er har jo alle kontaktlærere egne telefoner som hører til klassen. Jeg tenker at det er en gave. Vi er sent ute med det, for vi fikk det først nå. Veldig bra, for da har vi den sikkerheten igjen i forhold til hvorfor barna er vekk og sånt. 

Eh, men [kommunikasjonssystemet] var bra, jeg tenkte vel aldri over det, for det var bare sånn det var. Jeg savnet ikke noe annet da, tror jeg. Men det er klart, eh, foreldre er forskjellige og så klart, jeg skulle ønske at noen kom litt før til meg, ved å gi et hint da «jeg trenger en samtale med deg om noe» eller «hvorfor er barnet som det er på skolen?». Sånn at man kanskje hadde forstått situasjonen bedre- vært mer tilpasset i forhold til barnets situasjon da. For barn reagerer jo når det er ting i livet, og det eh- men vi sier jo i fra at vi vil ha beskjed. Men noen ganger så tenkte jeg «oi, det her skulle jeg gjerne ha visst, ikke sant.» Jeg fikk faktisk en «faren min er død, han.» … Det skulle jeg faktisk ha visst… Vi har lesebøker med sånne temaer. Jeg vil gjerne kjenne klassen min før jeg tar det som et leseeksempel på en måte. Sånne tingen, ikke sant. Så kommunikasjonen kan jo aldri være god nok, men det er viktige ting å vite om. 

Så, det er noe av det som er utfordrende ved den hverdagslige kommunikasjonen? Sånne ting? 


Hvilke måter foretrekker du å kommunisere med foreldrene? Er det liksom person til person, foreldremøter, eller er det sånn en daglig mail eller melding? Som du foretrekker? 

Det kommer helt an på hva det skal kommuniseres om. Jeg tar veldig gjerne møte- det møtet. Fordi at det andre er- du må tolke litt da, i meldinger og mail og sånn. Men har man en klar avtale på hva man skal melde ifra om på mobil: fravær, enkle ting, glemt boka. Hvis du har en unge som er litt stresset for at du snakker om å ta opp boka og så har den ikke husket boka, så kan man godt få den beskjeden da. Eh, selv om det ikke er så viktig, så er det noen unger det er veldig viktig for. Man kan jo gjøre sånne individuelle avtaler med foreldre, men da må man jo ha tatt den samtalen, som man gjerne tar på høsten. Med nye elever så ønsker jeg å komme fort inn i samtalemodus med foreldre, gjerne med et treff. Jeg vet ikke, det å sitte ned og kjenne litt på folk, synes jeg er litt ålreit. Så får de en feeling for meg også. Det er en god ting å gjøre. 

Men når du har møter, føler du at begge foreldrene prioriterer å komme, eller føler du ofte det er en part som dukker opp? 

Det er gjerne én part, eh, men jeg sier alltid ifra der det er skilte hjem at begge foreldrene har lov å komme, men at de kan komme hver for seg. Jeg har vært gjennom den biten selv, det er ikke bare å sitte sammen i en samtale med læreren hvis man har gått fra hverandre. Men da åpnet jeg opp for begge deler. Men det er klart, har du 24 elever og mange skilte hjem, så får du mange møter. Men man må jo tilpasse seg situasjonen, tenker jeg. Jeg har aldri sittet med klokka da, selv om man sier- man har jo denne halvtimen på samtalen, men møtet skal man kunne ta. Jeg vil gjerne være litt åpen på det, «bare kom». Vi gjør avtaler, og får vi det ikke til en gang, så får vi det til neste gang. Men min tid er også viktig, så jeg vil gjerne få beskjed. Du sitter ikke der gang på gang, bare venter og ingen kommer, det gidder vi ikke. Men det skjer ikke så ofte, egentlig. 


Analysis and summary of findings with quotes 

Both parties answered our questions, including those we came up with during the interview. The parent said she mainly communicated with the teacher through e-mails and text messages. However, she isn’t satisfied with the way they communicate, because the contact is impersonal and infrequent. 

She says she “has problems getting in touch with the teacher, because the teacher only has a work phone , and [the teacher] doesn’t get the messages”.  

The parent wants an application or platform where teachers can share information with the parents, such as sending general information. In her opinion, the teacher needs to be available more hours a day than just during work hours. The teacher however thought that getting a work phone has been a nice change, meaning that they are only available during work hours. Also, the teacher felt that having her own phone charged and available at all times was a burden.

“For security purposes, I think it’s bad for me to always make sure my [private] phone is there, to check if a child has arrived at school or not,” the teacher says.

Both parties agreed that they want a more personal way of communicating.

“It’s a bit impersonal, and it’s difficult to reach [the teacher] because they only have a work phone,” the mother says. 

The parent and the teacher preferred to communicate over face-to-face meetings so they could get a better understanding, but the parent thinks it should be more often.

The teacher points out “it’s important to set a time for important conversations beforehand, and not take those conversations during a chaotic morning, since the teacher’s focus should primarily be on the kids. Also, the teacher should be notified of important things happening in a child’s life.”

She also says they differentiate what type of messages they should get over e-mails, the phones, and the direct face-to-face meeting. 

When we brought up the teacher-parent conferences, both sides agreed mostly only one parent show up. As the teacher had experienced, she was open for both parents to come separately if they aren’t together.

The mother said, “it would be nice [to get a summary of the meeting sent on e-mail to both parents], because [the father of my son] easily forgets things.

What we thought was the most interesting part was the application/platform the mother suggested. This is something we would like to look more into in the further parts of this project. 


Cultural Probes – Exercise

Choose an example cultural probes and find out:
We chose the Crafting Cultural Probe Boxes

  • What is the design goal of the cultural probe?

The design goal of the cultural probe was to find out the perception of value in the products that people own.

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

The probe is made out of oak wood. The task was for users to receive the box and interpret, then send the box back so the designer would interpret the possession that the user put inside the box.

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

The inspiration the design team got was from researching in «cultural probes are a means of conversation not simply another standard research method». After the designer put a lot of effort in making the box, they felt that they added a lot of their own value into the box and hopes that the world will endure the box as an item.



1.1 Literature Review

Documentation of the Literature Search

1. Preparation

Questions / Goal

  • Our main question for this literature review is: How do teachers and parents communicate, and how can we make it easier?
  • Other relevant questions are about the challenges in the information flow, what needs to be improved, and the available digital tools.
  • Our goal for this project is to improve the way teachers and parents communicate, such as sharing information and keeping in touch.


  • Elementary school, teacher, parents / parent, information, communication, technology, problems, challenges, to improve, collaboration, everyday, digital tool
  • Barneskole, lærer, foreldre / forelder, informasjon, kommunikasjon, teknologi, problemer, utfordringer, å forbedre, samarbeid, hverdagslig, digitale verktøy

Combining Keywords

  • How do teachers and parents communicate? («Elementary school» AND teacher AND parents AND communication) OR («Elementary school» AND teacher AND parent AND communication) OR («teacher parent collaboration» AND everyday) OR (barneskole AND lærer AND foreldre AND kommunikasjon)
  • Do they use some type of technology to communicate? Or are there any available digital tools for them to use? («Elementary school» AND teacher AND parents AND communication AND technology) OR (barneskole AND lærer AND foreldre AND teknologi)
  • Are there any problems regarding teacher-parent communication? If so, what needs to be improved? («Elementary school» AND teacher AND parents AND communication AND problems) OR («Elementary school» AND teacher AND parents AND communication AND challenges) OR («Elementary school» AND teacher AND parents AND communication AND «to improve»)

Determine Nature of Literature

We’ll search for relevant literature through the web, f.i. Google Scholar and Google Search. Here we are mainly looking for articles, reports, and similar, which could tell us about the current process of teacher-parent communication. We have chosen the Internet as an information source, due to the fact that books are often outdated.


2. Search, Selection & Evaluation

As previously mentioned, we wanted to use Google Scholar and Google Search to research. First, we searched the combined keywords. Afterwards, we searched full texts to try and gather more useful information. We were mainly looking for free PDF-files we could download, however we were open to other kinds of sources as well.

As we were looking for relevant literature, we read the bibliographic information to gather a sense of what each of the documents were about. This way we could determine if they were indeed relevant for our research. To get the most recent piece of information, we filtered our searches. Thus the documents must have been released after 2010 for us to see it as relevant.

Once we had gathered a handful of sources, we dug deeper into the documents to look for answers. For a short time period, we deleted sources and went looking for new ones with better keywords. As soon as we were satisfied, we began writing the summary.


Literature Review

Information Flow Between Teachers and Parents 

Main Elements/Characteristics of the Information Flow 

According to the Norwegian Education Act § 1-1, the school and the pupil’s caregivers are bound to cooperate. This way the parents have the rights to obtain information about their child, including rights and duties, during parent-teacher conferences, other meetings, and conversations. These rights are connected to the parents’ responsibility for raising their child, giving care, and making decisions on their behalf, whilst the school’s main responsibility is to educate (Helgøy & Homme, 2015). 

The teacher-parent information flow is dynamic and everchanging, depending on what the context behind the approach is (Lilleindset, 2019), meaning it could be spontaneous or planned beforehand.  

It’s standard to divide the teacher-parent cooperation into three levels: information, dialogue and discussions, and involvement and codetermination (Odden, 2016). The exchange of information, for instance regarding a pupil’s academic- and social development, is essential in the teacher-parent communication. In this mutual exchange there is room for dialogue and discussions (Udir, 2016). Involvement and codetermination are part of the highest level of cooperation. On this level, teachers and parents have the influence to make decisions affecting the pupil (Odden, 2016). 

By using methods to create a good teacher-parent relation and cooperation, the home will become an active and responsible part of the pupil’s academic life (Lilleindset, 2019). Simultaneously, good cooperation will help the teachers develop a better educational environment, which again will help the pupil achieve better results. Once again, you can distinguish three forms of school-home cooperation: the representative-, the direct-, and the contactless cooperation (Helgøy & Homme, 2015) 

The representative cooperation involves different groups of individuals. In Norwegian elementary schools, it’s natural to have a parent council, consisting of all the pupils’ parents. The parent council selects a few individuals for the parent-teacher association, who will discuss important matters with the teachers and staff members on behalf of the rest of the parents (ibid).  

Direct cooperation is referring to direct yet formal meetings between the teacher and the caregivers, such as teacher-parent conferences and achievement review meetings. The parents will receive information about the pupil’s academic goals, their academic development, and how the home can contribute to reaching those goals. Which leads us to contactless cooperation. As mentioned earlier, the home should be an active and responsible part of the pupil’s academic life. The simple act of showing interest in the pupil’s everyday academic life, will increase the pupil’s motivation to do well in school (ibid). 


Challenges Encountered in the Information Flow 

Communication between parents and teachers at the elementary school levels is a two-way street. However, this street is often a bump one. The lack of information flow between the parents and the school creates challenges for everyone involved, and the kids are often the ones who pay the price for this unnecessary problem. Many parents today do not have the luxury to take time off work to go to every teacher-parent meeting, and to help out at school events. This creates less opportunities for teachers and parents to talk about the pupil (Hall, 2013). By giving both the parents and the teachers an easier way to convey both information and needs, the barriers and fear of missing out grow smaller (Edsys, 2017). 

The schools have a responsibility to inform the parents of events at school, such as; teacher-parent conferences, soccer days, hiking trips and so on. Other than general information, the school also has the responsibility to convey to the parents how their child is doing in classes, as well as advancing in social skills and over all behavior. On the other hand, the parents are responsible to convey any important information that can be relevant to the school, such as: allergies, if there is a situation at home the school should be aware of, diagnoses (ADHD, diabetes, and so on), the general normal behavior of the child, and so on (Drugli, Nordahl, 2016). 

At an elementary school level, kids are still discovering who they are, and who they want to be. This means that it is important for teachers to tell the parents how the pupil is behaving, whether it is good or bad behavior. However, at this level the teacher must take in consideration that the behavior of a child in a school setting, differs from the behavior the parents see in their child at home. This often makes for disagreements, and/or one offended party (Drugli, Nordahl, 2016). In moments like this, it is important not to forget that emotions need to be laid aside to come to the best conclusion. However, this disagreement and “on guard” attitude is a blockage in the communication flow.   


What needs to be Improved 

Parents and teachers need a good enough understanding towards a child’s needs in their learning process. Which means the teachers and parents would have to be on the same page throughout the child’s upbringing. Some schools blame the parents at home for not spending enough time throughout the child’s schooling and learning, while the parents at home blame the school for lack of information and bad learning guidance for their own child (Lilleindset, 2019). This shows that teachers and parents have different opinions on the child’s needs. This is something that must be improved to create better communication between the school and home, and for those two parties to come to an agreement. 

When teachers call a child’s parents for misbehaving actions it wouldn’t be pleasant news for a parent, and as Andrew McCormick stated, “Children don’t connect an error in their behavior from 9:00 am to a stern parent lecture at 4:00 pm.” Which points out that this might not be a good solution to teach a child, and at the same time the communication between the teacher and parent gives a negative impact. A pupil’s behavior is contextual. If there is a behavior in your class that you don’t like, it’s your responsibility to fix it.  This approach makes you the authority figure in the classroom (McCormick, 2015). 

Some parents would have this bad feeling once a teacher tries to reach out to them, in the thoughts of “oh no, what did the kid do?” Which can portray how a parent think of school in a negative way. Having a communication policy that asks teachers to contact parents monthly, say, would subvert parent’s expectations that a phone call from the teacher means trouble at school (Lanagan, 2015). 


An Overview of the Available Digital Tools and what Problem each of them Addresses 


A teacher can start a blog to convey information and communicate. That allows a two-way communication system between parents and teachers, where parents can keep up with what’s happening in the classroom and teachers can connect with the families. When parents have questions, they can ask through the blog or read already published information. That makes it simple for parents to help their children with school when they know what’s going on in the respective classes. 


Communication with e-mail between parents and teachers is common way to communicate, which is used all over the world. This method is used by many because parents are already used to using e-mail daily. In the past, office staff would spend hours every two weeks typing and photocopying a school newsletter (Kathleen Morris, 2019). Today we have the easy option to use e-mail instead. By using e-mail, you can save a lot of time and it allows for a two-way communication where teachers can answer the e-mail. In addition, e-mail is more reliable in the way that it’s much harder to lose the information.  

Social Media 

As social media is getting bigger, and many parents use social media every day, it becomes more of a viable option for communication in schools. Social media is an excellent avenue to explore when considering how you can ‘meet parents where they’re at’ (Kathleen Morris, 2019). Rather than trying to make something new that requires much effort, communication can go through something that’s already in use. Social media is good for communicating both ways, but it can cause problems. For instance, there could be cases where not all parents use social media. Additionally, it’s easy for the information to get into the wrong hands. 


In today’s social climate, waiting for even a couple of hours to receive a return email can be considered rude, and it can be difficult for teachers to keep up with the constant need for communication (Matthew Lynch, 2017). With different apps the communication process between teachers and parents can be easy and quick. For example, there are many communication apps with a feature that can translate into different languages (Kathleen Morris). The problem can be to get everyone to use it, but by using good communication apps the two-way communication will be improved.  



Drugli, M.B. Nordahl, T. (2016) Forskningsartikkel: Samarbeidet mellom hjem og skole. Utdanningsdirektoratet. Obtained from: https://www.udir.no/kvalitet-og-kompetanse/samarbeid/hjem-skole-samarbeid/samarbeidet-mellom-hjem-og-skole/innledning/ 

Edsy (2017, 13. January) 7 Great Apps for Parent-Teacher Communication. Obtained from: https://medium.com/@Edsys/7-great-apps-for-parent-teacher-communication-61a7e6184cf2 

Helgøy, I., & Homme, A. (2015). Hjem–skole-samarbeid for et godt læringsmiljø. Evaluering av lokale hjem–skoleprosjekter og gjennomføring av forsterket hjem–skolesamarbeidObtained from: https://uni.no/media/manual_upload/Rapport_2-2015_Helgoy_og_Homme.pdf 

Lanagan.L (2015, 17. November) What Can Be Done To Improve Parent-Teacher CommunicationKQED News. Obtained from: https://www.kqed.org/mindshift/42715/what-can-be-done-to-improve-parent-teacher-communication 

Lilleindset, I. (2019). Det vanskelige samarbeidet (Bachelor’s thesis, NTNU.) Obtained from: https://ntnuopen.ntnu.no/ntnu-xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/2610321/no.ntnu%3ainspera%3a2316138.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y 

Lynch, M. (2017, 11. July). The tech edvocate’s list of 11 school communication apps, tools and resources. Obtained from: https://www.thetechedvocate.org/tech-edvocates-list-11-school-communication-apps-tools-resources/ 

McCormick. A. (2015). Why I Don’t Call Home AnymoreThe art of educationObtained from: https://theartofeducation.edu/2015/11/16/why-i-dont-call-home-anymore/ 

Megan Olivia Hall [TEDxBurnsvilleED], 2013, 7. November. Obtained from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kin2OdchKMQ  

Morris, K. (2019, 15. January). Ways Teachers And Schools Can Communicate With Parents In 2019 [Blogpost]. Obtained from: http://www.kathleenamorris.com/2019/01/15/communicate-parents-2019/#apps 

Odden, A. (2016). Samarbeid mellom skole og hjem når foreldrene ikke bor sammen (Bachelor’s thesis). Obtained from: https://brage.inn.no/inn-xmlui/bitstream/handle/11250/2495904/Odden.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y  

Udir (2016) Hjem-skolesamarbeidObtained from: https://www.udir.no/kvalitet-og-kompetanse/samarbeid/hjem-skole-samarbeid/ and https://www.udir.no/laring-og-trivsel/lareplanverket/prinsipper-for-opplaringen2/samarbeid-med-heimen/ 


Information Flow Between Parents and Teachers

For this group project, we want to explore how parents with kids in 1.-7. grade communicate with the teachers. We are interested in this topic because we’re curious to see how parents keep themselves updated with their kids’ activities in school. It would be interesting to see how we can make this information flow better.