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.