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DML Final Report

DML Final Report

Who were you addressing with your design objective?
Our design objective addresses after-school youth ages 10 to 16 living in Parramore, a historically black neighborhood near Downtown Orlando.

What are the three essential questions the field needs to answer to move learning playlist design and implementation forward?

  • How might we enable learners to show and prove their XP competencies/achievements without disrupting their playlist “flow” with sometimes-strenuous posting processes?
  • How might we integrate XPs into the daily routines of young people who are not active users of platforms like LRNG so that they can begin participating in connected learning experiences without spending extra time or effort in adopting new technologies?
  • How might youth compare or share their badges with peers in order to emphasize the peer-to-peer aspect of connected learning?

Have the goals for your project changed at all throughout the design process?
We set out to assemble digital playlists that empower Parramore youth to discover food security in their own front yards. Through our human-centered design process, we found that food security was NOT the most pressing aspiration of our user group in the after-school setting. Instead, we observed that our audience was motivated by social interaction and digital media entertainment. Rather than adjust our ultimate goal, we realized we needed a new starting point: one that was closer to where our user-group was already comfortable. In asking our user-group questions about what experiences they wanted to have, the idea of starting a YouTube series took root. We modified our playlist development to reflect our user-group interest in YouTube video making, adding XPs like “Script Writing”, with themes tied to neighborhood food systems so that we were pointing toward our ultimate goal of food security.

What did you learn through the design process? What would you do differently if you were to start over?
At the outset of this project, our design team recognized the importance of empathizing and co-designing with our user-group, but we lacked direct experience with key human-centered design methods. Throughout our design process, we experimented with various techniques and completed an “Acumen+” course in Human-Centered Design. If we were to start over, with the experience and knowledge we have now, our team is confident that we would be able to more quickly identify the intrinsic motivators of our youth.
On a more specific note, we learned that the “show and prove” function was costly to the user, especially in areas with poor internet availability. Even though the youth center we worked with had business-grade internet, there were still issues with LRNG loading. Through prototyping, we were able to define which file types were best able to capture the essence of learning while causing the least amount of stress to the user.

What are the three most important things about designing your system or solution that you would share with another organization just getting started?

  • Consistent testing and implementation designs (defining testing vs. implementing)
  • ​Spending time working through human-centered design from onset
  • Jump into making XP drafts-- the more you do, the better you get. You can delete and refine later.  

What is left to do? What is left unanswered? What might help you continue to succeed?
Throughout the course of this project, our target audience did not exhibit interest in the LRNG platform -- or rather, their interest in the LRNG platform paled in comparison to their interest in participating in the physical completion of XPs: playing basketball, the Roblox computer game, general social media activity, and a number of other interests. While the content of the playlists engaged youth week after week, interacting with LRNG caused more frustration than pleasure.  

What are the three essential questions the emerging field of connected learning playlist design needs to answer or make happen in order to move your work forward or scale it?

  • How might playlists add value to in-life learning experiences rather than pull the user out of the moment?
  • How might youth compare or share their badges with peers in order to emphasize the peer-to-peer aspect of connected learning?
  • How might LRNG and other connected learning systems integrate with or utilize existing platforms to facilitate a greater usership?

What parts of the playlist platform technology are working well? What limitations are you experiencing?
From the back end, we have found the platform to be intuitive, easy to navigate, and with few site errors. From the user (student) end, the format of the site seems to confuse the youth. For example, when a student signs up, even under Orlando, it them takes them to the “Get Lost” page. And quite literally, they get lost.. But not in the way intended. They also have to scroll past rows of XPs to find the playlists. For youth familiar with the platform, this isn’t an issue, but the learning curve seems to be unnecessarily complicated. Additionally, the ability to view content on the platform as an overview (i.e., a grid vs. a list) on the back end would be a helpful feature in taking stock of current and planning out for future content.

What have you done, or do you plan to do, to evaluate the efficacy of your learning playlists in your community/communities?
We believe that the ultimate indicator of playlist efficacy is a quantitative analysis of the number of playlists completed by youth. From there, we wish to explore opportunities to perform a qualitative analysis of the artifacts submitted.

It will be also be important in the future to evaluate the value of the skills and knowledge learned through playlists by engaging employers, organizations, and institutions on their understanding and acceptability of badges earned, etc. This would indicate an important component of the efficacy of the playlists, not only through youth engagement, but also through the value of the badges/playlists by the entities who might ultimately accept them.

What are the three main challenges to widespread adoption or scale of these learning playlists for your organization?

  • Convincing institutions and organizations of the benefits of playlists and connected learning, to dedicate time and resources toward creating learning content
  • Finding ways to utilize popular, existing online platforms to link or integrate connected learning content from LRNG to a wider audience
  • Overcoming the technological learning curve of getting logged on, finding the appropriate org pages/playlists, and submission process for youth.

What plans are in the works, or do you plan to put in the works in order to sustain your system?
As a new city and network lead of LRNG in Orlando, Playground City has a detailed plan to get 1200 users active on LRNG in 2017. Our plan is to begin implementing playlists in after-school programs. We are excited to pilot a college preparation playlist starting June 8, and will begin to scale after the success of the pilot program.

How are you getting institutional buy-in, or adoption from your learners or other stakeholders?
We are getting buy-in from education stakeholders coming from education content organizations (like the Orlando Science Center) and youth-serving organizations who find that LRNG fulfills a need. Our main youth-serving organization partner, After-School All-Stars, serves 1,200 in Orlando and has adopted LRNG as a delivery method for multiple programs including a coach training program. Success of these programs will directly impact scale.

What outreach strategies will you employ to communicate and support your playlists?
We are using events as a way to introduce playlists to our audiences. This month, we will host “Barber Shop Talk” which will be an event-version of a playlists centered around vocational hair skills, and nonviolent communication. Partner organizations interested in creating playlists will be invited to see the event as a demonstration. We are also participating in a city-wide event, marketing a playlist exclusive for families attending the event. Participants will be prompted to find Playground City reps who will guide them through the playlist.

Our goal is that after initial introduction, playlists will be self-guided. Partners such as Orlando Science Center plan to use LRNG specifically with self-guided curriculum, supported with materials in public spaces when necessary.

How are you going to, or did you, incorporate the feedback from the workshop into your plans going forward?We’ve incorporated the SMART goals into our playlist planning, which helped us to keep focus on the learning objectives for the XPs and overall playlist. It was easy to fall down the rabbit hole of “what can be an XP.” Consulting from Convergence Design Lab led us to refine our playlists in many ways, mostly with respect to clarity.

Have you budgeted adequately to materialize the design work you imagined?
Yes, after amending the budget in November, we were able to prototype and/or implement each of the playlists according to the budget.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us about your progress?
DML was an exciting challenge that allowed us to experiment and engage in an entire social network of connected-learning professionals, who opened our eyes to the optimism and creativity that exists in the field, and we want to keep contributing to that.

The New Image Youth decided to perform XPs within the context of a Youtube series called "Bad Kids Save the World." The series is still being filmed but here is a sneak peak of one of the episodes: 



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