Sunday, November 20, 2011

Building Design Treasure Hunt feedback

Building Design Treasure Hunt feedback

Class Focus Group, Wednesday, ‎24 ‎May ‎2011, ‏‎9.30am (one week after trial)

Ignoring all the issues on the day, what do you think of the concept in principle?

  • · Waste a lot of petrol going around to all the houses, has to be a car involved. Besides that, great idea because seeing stuff straight up front. Get idea of texture of house that wouldn’t get off photo.
  • · Would be better if lot of it situated on one street that has variety of house styles
  • · Privacy perspective: issues with students turning up outside houses in a group? Residents would be a bit freaked out? (Teacher: used to it? We do this already)
  • · Could be centred around a few streets or a block. Areas where could walk from one to the other
  • · Do it in a warmer season? (Facilitator: project had to be completed by June; no choice this time!)
  • · Using our own phones a bit difficult. Could there be a supply of phones that are already charged? (Facilitator: logistics of project: sudden doubling of group numbers led to phones running out). After 3 hours of using, phone power runs out for some, need to use it for rest of the day.
  • · People used various phones, had varying speeds of downloading and responding etc

How could it be done better?

  • · Need to double check that things are in the right spots (teacher: Google lied to me about some locations) (facilitator: lesson is that anything involving geography, have to go there in person beforehand, next time should do it together so get tech and subject knowledge at same time, we can’t assume knowledge of other)
  • · Do it on bike? (some disagreement in group; how to carry all the stuff?)
  • · Have options such as ABCD, not just A and B; most of answers were A so were just selecting first one (facilitator: was technical slip, have adjusted system for next time)

What are benefits with doing this with phones and GPS, assuming everything is working fine (or just as good on paper with photocopied map)?

  • · With paper, can check and have details, server crashing etc won’t be problem
  • · If no tech issues, phone/GPS is easier. Can just touch option, don’t have to spend time writing down answers.
  • · Would have been easier to incorporate GPS into next address (don’t have to search yourself for address, does it automatically on phone, tells you how to get there, rather than having to get Melways out)
  • · In today’s society, technological stuff is so much more used than paper. (Facilitator: feel more comfortable with phone and piece of paper? Answer from one student: yes)

If you just had a list on paper to circle without having to write anything down, would that have made it easier than using the phone or as easy?

  • · With paper, will still be same order for everyone. With phone, can randomise, more challenging, be harder than everyone having same order. (Can swap notes; find each other).

Did people use own phones with Google Maps to find their way around? If so, did it work?

  • · I used GPS device in car
  • · Would have been nice to go backwards - once put answer into device, that’s it, couldn’t change it, couldn’t go backwards
  • · Yes/no buttons – easy to press wrong ones. Buttons too close together, can touch other one by mistake.
  • · You needed a group in car (more than two): one person to hold the textbook, one person to have phone, one to have GPS, one to drive

Would you have liked it to be a competition?

  • · Would have been good, but can’t do it in a car
  • · Walking would have been good as a competition – challenging, funny. Only have 10-15 questions, reduce number of styles (facilitator: yes, one thing we’ve learned is that it was probably too long, and took longer than we thought to get to places and get answers)

Any other thoughts?

  • · Use the GPS to help get around.
  • · Let us choose next location to go to – there were times you would have to go back from street no. 50 to no. 40 (facilitator: if design was such that you didn’t have to go back and forth, would that solve this? Student: probably)
  • · Even tell us how many we’ve got left to go, which one we’re up to.
  • · Yes, be nice to know how we’re going, even to have score up in the corner. Or a progress bar.
  • · There was one point where the address was on a corner and we got it wrong because house was on opposite corner. Maybe choose houses where numbers are in view so it’s not so confusing. (mentioned another example of confusion with house numbers)
  • · Need to have address and quiz options with right question on the same page. ). Address used to disappear once went to question option screen. (facilitator: has been fixed)
  • · Instead of style of house specifically, could ask about different elements of styles, such as roof elements. (teacher: could be quite challenging, love to be able to identify things straight up, but suspect would take a longer)

If were walking, would having text book with you be a challenge, juggle phones, books etc?

  • · In groups, would work.

We were wondering if to do this in groups or individually

  • · Too hard as individuals. Can’t hold everything.
  • · And individually there’s nothing to challenge you to learn (teacher: they learn from each other).

What’s an ideal group number if walking?

  • · Four or so. Could always have six. But then would be more arguing so takes longer.
  • · And if driving would need to take two cars.
  • · Three wouldn’t work if driving if have GPS separate from question phone and text book. Someone to hold book, someone to direct driver to address, someone to drive, someone to relate questions.

Teacher: idea of app for text book. What do people think?

  • · General consensus it’s a good idea.

Project facilitator note:

· Need to note: unexpected/unforseen combining of two groups on same day due to sudden timetabling changes. This doubled student numbers, caused issues with availability of phones and server loads, hence crashing of server. Hence also caused significant delays for groups – staggered starts meant some groups didn’t leave till 4pm. We were lucky that these students were very mature and patient. Lesson: try to make sure there are no surprises on the tech front caused by sudden changes at the program end.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Construction simulation trial 2011: student interview results

The Unity version of the construction set of exercises is up and running and Mark has completed his paper workbook that goes along with it.

So this week we tried it out on two student groups. Went pretty well - here are the results of interviews with 19 construction pre-apps immediately after completing the simulation task series. Undertaken in groups of 1 to 4. All were male, aged 16 - 18.
Of 19 interviewed:

Experience with computers? 14
Consider yourself a gamer? 8
Do you use computers for:
- social networking: 17
- consuming media (eg video): 12
- playing games: 4

Had experience with construction work sites? 16
Helped to set up a work site before? 5

Expectations before starting course:
none/don't know: 16
fun because it's a game: 2
sounded interesting because was different: 1

Did you enjoy it? 19
Comments: 'better than writing up'

Do you feel more confident:
- going into a construction workplace? 16
Comments: 'you know what's there...hazards and that'/'not really'
- picking out OH&S hazards? 18
Comment: 'has made them easier to identify'
- setting up a work site? 18
- filling in a Safe Work Method Statement? 9
Comments: 'have already done this'/'our teacher has done it for us'/'same as what I already knew'
- reading building plans and documents? 18
Comment: 'same...knew this already'

Would you like to do other forms of learning in this way? 14
Comments: 'prefer something more hands on'/'it's good because it's hands on'

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Next steps with construction project/moving to Unity

Met this morning with Dale and Daniel from VU Construction. Important points to note:

- following the dev team's successful trial in Unity on Monday we will be moving from OpenSim to Unity for the construction and subsequent projects. All trade development from here to be undertaken under the umbrella of 'Tradesim': Looking to work with Mark O'Rourke on his games stuff in Unity in future. There are a number of pros and cons with Unity but it looks overwhelmingly positive in the final analysis, especially easier deployment on the ground (web browser-based delivery, also works with USB 1&2 as no need to have on-board web server on data stick as per OpenSim). Dale is compiling full list of pros and cons.

- PushLMS will be transformed from a standalone product to a plugin for Moodle.

- Unity version of construction world will be ready for this year's construction trial. Dale met with Mark (teacher) yesterday to finalise in-world details and to revise delivery plans. A few small changes - the 'points' system will change to money...sts can earn or lose money. Brings element of competition into doing the exercise.

- we will trial 1-2 groups (of 12-15 sts each) in last week of term before holidays (September 26 - 30). if this works out smoothly, will deliver on wider scale to other groups in first week back (October 10 - 14). Possibility of us not being involved in second delivery - hands off, may just run by itself so only construction teachers needed hopefully.

- discussed wider distribution and promotion of Tradesim. Will be based on partnership with Oztron, which ownd Tradesim. Managed by WERC. We will invite other institutions' trades programs to be involved and will work out licensing model to keep it sustainable.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Download the construction simulator


Here is a downloadable version of our construction sim.

To get this working;
  1. Download and unzip the opensim files. This is the world.
  2. Download and install the Imprudence viewer. This is the software you use to look at the world.
  3. In the opensim>bin directory, run the file Opensim.32bitlaunch.exe. Let this load for a couple of minutes until the console window stops moving.
  4. Load the Imprudence viewer. Log in using the username 'test user.' Leave the password field blank. Set the Grid to 'localhost.'
  5. You should now be in the Isle of VU.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Music venue treasure hunt trial

Music venue treasure hunt trial

Yesterday two of us met with students from the Victoria University VET music performance program for the music mobile trial. This treasure hunt took the students on a tour of Melbourne music venues in the CBD, ranging from the Palace in Bourke St to the Cherry Bar in ACDC Lane.

This trial did not use GPS because of the difficulty of getting GPS to work well in the CBD. Instead the screens gave students directions to the next venue on the phone (and we also gave them a photocopy of the map below). Once arriving at the venue, the system asked the students between 2-4 questions per venue, and also asked them to take a photo of the venue. At the end, the system presented the group with a pie chart showing the percentage of right and wrong questions. There were no time delays for getting questions wrong - we were conscious of not turning this into a race given the potential dangers of the CBD streets.

Originally we had planned to undertake OH&S and PA/technical audits inside the venues, but then the music staff realised that this would have taken a lot of advance planning to organise, given that many venues are closed during the day (and also given that the program manager was on leave during the prep time and the rest of the staff were stretched for time). Instead, they created questions to be answered from the street outside the venue. Our team then tested the questions the day before and further honed them - this was a good move because quite a few questions still could not be answered by students in their original form (eg 'does the venue have an in-house piano?'

On the day we all met at the Arts Centre. There were 12 students present - three groups of four each. After some instructions from us, the students were given their paper based maps (as seen below) and devices preloaded with the login page. (they chose two iPads and one iPhone...these are maybe seen as sexier? More motivating? More familiar?). They were very keen to get started.

Students were then asked to enter their student IDs but told they could also use their names. We soon discovered the system had not been designed to handle spaces between names. The issue was quickly bypassed by using first names or concatenating both names, and then we were off.

The system was configured so that every group started with the Arts Centre questions (they had been given a tour prior to meeting us). After this initial question set, each group was assigned to a different circuit around the city to minimise the likelihood of groups turning up the venues in a mass, swapping notes, students tagging along uninvolved etc. The venues were arranged in an approximate loop (see map), with groups starting at different points on that loop.

The groups then set out on their journeys. The two of us selected a group each to tag along with and we shot some footage of students answering questions along the way using Flip cameras. One of the groups was temporarily stalled due to connection issues which we would find out later were to haunt them through the entire course of the journey.

One of us comments: the first location was an easy one since we were already there, we simply needed to take the elevator down stairs and snap a photo of the stage door before we could proceed with the next questions. The group of students whose party I had joined were very eager to take photos of one and other which I found rather humorous to say the least. It was great to see them so excited about doing an assignment and having FUN!

The students received instant feedback on how they were doing and were eager to answer questions correctly. Questions were either yes/no (see above) or multiple choice (see below)

At the end, students received a chart of results:

One of us comments: The feeling I received from the students was that they really enjoyed participating in the trial. They liked using the technology and found it a great way to discover venues in Melbourne that were tucked away and would have otherwise gone unexplored.

The other of us comments: Similarly, students were motivated by the technology and by the location-based treasure hunt idea. As performance students many said they found it useful to encounter potential workplaces that they hadn't known existed. Group dynamics in a group of 4 worked well, with students keen to discuss potential answers. They cared about getting the right answers, and were keen to see their score at the end (note - the group that had technical difficulties stuck around afterwards when we met up to complete the trial questions - without having gone to all the venues - so they could find out their score). The negatives expressed by the group were that some questions could have been a little more challenging and relevant (they also mentioned that they would have liked to have seen inside the venues), the course was long (two hours of solid walking) and some interface elements could be improved (options being too close together leading to the wrong one being pressed...this was on the iPad... and no back button).

The group with technical issues had the iPhone. They were troubled by connection issues that haunted them the entire leg of the journey. This shows that the iPads are more effective in such locations, possibly due to larger antennas and receptors (this was also the case with the GPS for the last trial). One of us briefly tested the Android phone and this was worst of all.

The system is designed to continue from where the connection drops off, but for this group it kept restarting the assessment from the beginning. We think that this is due to one or more students entering their names differently (even one character) to the original logins, so that the system didn't recognise this as continuing the previous session. Surprisingly these students were extremely keen to stay back and finish the assessment to find out what all the answers were.

In summary:

- engagement levels were high due to the technology and the location-based treasure hunt elements

- discovery element of venues was stated as being useful for their careers

- questions need to be meaningful and tested thoroughly. If not, it's frustrating.

- we need to make sure everyone types in the same thing every time when resuming sessions (maybe stick to student ids next time?, not names?)

- iPads work better than iPhones and much better than Android phones for constant connectivity in the CBD. They're also better in a group because everyone can see the screen and debate/compare notes

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Students, where are you for our second trial?

After deciding it wasn't the best option to go 'cold calling' on students in the VU Footscray library to take part in our library treasure hunt trial, we thought we'd find a class of first year students from that campus.

So we emailed three colleagues in Education - no response.

So after testing and refining the questions created by the student rovers, we coordinated with a Student Support person for a group of seven students to do the exercise. We bought them two movie tickets each, as suggested by the Student Support person.

And then we waited at the appointed place at 1pm today...and waited. No students - and the support person didn't know where they were either (he had emailed them the day before with confirmation, directions and my mobile number)


We later found out that this student support person was in transition and this was his last day on that job. So possibly some issues there. In the meantime, we'll need to find some more students, and write off today.

This, however, has reinforced our finding that working with other program areas can be difficult, that there are other things going on in their areas and their focus may be elsewhere. And perhaps that movie tickets aren't such a strong incentive these days (we had been thinking of an iPod Shuffle as a prize)