Thursday, August 30, 2012

Lessons Learned

MoPED taught us that some caution is needed in adopting the very latest communication technologies. In particular, the very popular presence of QR codes was not at all reflected in the behaviour of the students who we canvassed on the topic of smartphone use. The experience of the vast majority of the students was negative, as using QR codes required specific apps that students were uncertain how to obtain, and even where some experimental use had been attempted, the outcome was seen as underwhelming.

In our approach, we ultimately had to adopt well-rehearsed mobile norms such as using an app and basic 3G/WiFi communication, rather than any of the more specialist communication techniques. Novel technologies proved discouraging even to students with a clear confidence with computing technology in general.

Our prototype large display showed a sequence of online resources, and if the student's mobile phone ran our bespoke app, this could then be used to 'grab' the relevant access instructions which were downloaded to their smartphone. These instructions could then be read on screen both on and off site, regardless of the student's internet access (or lack of it). While the interaction was initially unfamiliar, it was deemed much simpler than more technological approaches.

In a simple experimental setup, access was achieved much more frequently than had been the case in our initial data-gathering, where only 16% of reported successful access to any online resource off-site. The prototype achieved a rate of 80%, and while this is an early result it does indicate that a simple intervention can reduce the perceived challenge of accessing digital content at home (or elsewhere).

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