Portfolio > ArtSmart iPhone App
Date: August - December 2009
Teammates: Anne Lock, Ricardo Yi
My role: Most group work was done collaboratively, but I took the lead on the field observation and designing the slides for our presentations.
For a course on Principles of Software Design for Learning, our objective was to design a learning technology using educational theory to guide us. Thus, the key lesson for me from this project was how to follow a process of learner-centered design, rather than just the usual HCI perspective of user-centered design.
Based on our personal interest in art, my group decided to focus on designing an iPhone application that would help people learn more about art while in an art museum. We were motivated with several problems we saw with art museums (see our "Project Proposal" slideshow at right).
However, our original understanding of what people would actually want to do with such a technology was vague, so we employed several design research methods, including ethnographic interviews and field observation, to help us learn about our learner audience and their needs.
We learned that visitors have many questions about the paintings they see (e.g. "What else has this artist painted?"), yet view learning these details as secondary to their primary purpose: personally experiencing and reflecting on the art. (Right: Conducting an interview in situ at an art museum)
From shadowing museum tour guides and studying the physical learning aids at art museums, we further learned key art teaching techniques, which include comparison, pointing out details, and posing questions which test the viewer's knowledge (Below: two physical learning aids in place at the Detroit Institute of Arts).
From our museum visits as well as other sources, we also realized that another key consideration of a learning technology in this context is that it not distract too much from the in-person museum experience. This realization really stuck with me for the rest of the semester, as I tried to make sure that our application supported looking back and forth from the iPhone to the art, rather than focusing the learner's attention on just the iPhone.
By mid-semester, our research had helped us to confidently identify our learner needs and learning goals, and define a basic outline for our application (see Mid-Semester Project Update presentation at left).
Our next step was to flesh out the learning activities of our application in detail, using what we had learned in class about the different learning approaches (behaviorist, cognitivist, and constructivist).
We began by sketching on paper our ideas for how to implement our learning activities. We then moved to sketching more detailed screens which followed the iPhone Human Interface Guidelines (see sketches below). I think a factor critical to our success in this stage was keeping our scope small; there were many features we could have implemented but didn't, as they were really extraneous to our main learning goals.
Finally, we created hi-fi mockups of our entire application using OmniGraffle. Our application, ArtSmart! uses mainly constructivist learning theory to guide the learner to learn more, at their own pace and when they want to. It uses scaffolding to assist the learner as they learn more, and then removes the scaffolding at certain points to let the learner learn on their own. From designing these activities, I was motivated to really learn and understand the learning theories and how we could apply them in our project.
Our final screens for the application are shown in the slideshow video below (click anywhere on video - or scroll the mouse up and down over the video - to advance the slides). Or, you can also download our PDF file of the screens, which contains text annotations.