iLab Fieldnote: Preparing for Mentor Meeting (9 Oct)

A Fieldnote on Student Directed PBL, Co-Design and Mentors

Project: Web Server Development and Deployment (Canvas LMS)

Participants: @MrHodgdon @Nathan_A_Austin @Victor_Pearce

Mentors: @steelemaley (Lead; eLearning and Information Studies Department) @jmandala (Network Mentor: Web Server Configuration, Internet Form, Function and History)

Sometimes the path to self directed learning in a co-designed project gets a bit blocked.  Lets face it, in blended learning environments where the formal meets the informal (or even in environments where young people are unschooled) the learner may need (or) seek advice from mentors and need direct facilitation.  This is not only important but essential in many learning projects where co-design is a goal.  If young people know enough to ask tough questions and have allowed themselves to fail without becoming despondent (They are still pushing ahead with a design) the path to informed collaboration  is clearer.

In preparation for the iLab Projects Mentor Meeting this Tuesday I asked Josh Jacobs of Mandala Designs (Mentor: Web Server Development) what he thought the  project team needed at this snapshot in time.

He related that the team might take a look at their everyday use of technology to create driving questions for themselves.  He related that to gain a working understanding of of the key collaborators of software and hardware and technology and how they make a users web interaction happen is foundational for understanding Web Server Development.

A small snippet of Josh from my fieldnotes:

Evernote 20121005 19:25:39

From Fieldnote to Design: The Co-Design Experience: Learners as Users, Designers and Researchers

In order to facilitate the process of the project on Tuesday to build on what Josh Described we will use an adapted form of Context Mapping from Sanders et al. (2005):


Every user study starts with a preparation phase. Setting up the study involves the formulation of goals, planning, selecting participants, choosing techniques, etc. These elements are known by conventional research practitioners. With generative techniques, however, extra attention is needed in formulating goals. Generative research appears less formal than more traditional forms of research but its successful application rests on carefully selecting the main directions of exploration.


The next step is to sensitize the participants and prepare them for group sessions. Sensitizing is a process where participants are triggered, encouraged and motivated to think, reflect, wonder and explore aspects of their personal context in their own time and environment. A sensitizing package consisting of little activities or exercises is sent to the participants at home in the period before the session. They may get several days to weeks to complete the sensitizing package. Sensitization over a longer period, typically one or more weeks, prepares participants to access their experiences and to express and discuss these in the group sessions. The quality of the information learned in the sessions depends greatly on the depth and length of sensitizing.


A session is a meeting in which participants do generative exercises. Participants receive instructions and sets of expressive components, and create artefacts that express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Their experiences are revealed when they are asked to present and to explain these artefacts to the other participants in the group.


The qualitative data collected in the sessions are rich and diverse. The artefacts created by the participants contain many stories and anecdotes related to the topic. The stories and anecdotes are usually recorded on video and audio. Transcriptions of the verbal protocol are also made. The study is not meant to support or reject existing hypotheses, but to explore the context, uncover unexpected directions, and widen the view of the design team.


The final step is bringing the results to the design process. For the early phase of the design process, the results can both inform and inspire the design team. Conventional ‘written’ reports often fall short in communicating effectively to design teams. Techniques that are more interactive, such as workshops, cardsets, and persona displays can be used to enhance the design team’s understanding for and empathy with users.


Our Process as it Relates

As the goal setting planning and participants are embedded in this project, participants where “sensitized” using multiple asynchronous tools and impromptu meetings in school spaces.  The iLab uses Project Foundry to scaffold project work through group communication, project design scope and sequence, task management and feedback loops for iteration. The participants also use Twitter for communication and sensitization. The sensitizing period for Tuesday’s session has been 4 days.  The session planned will be organic and focus on mapping the user web interface backwards to web server development in hopes of queuing prior knowledge but also to formulate visuals to aid in question development and student research direction. We will most likely use either a Promethean Board, or Sketchnotes via Goodnotes App to capture the session notes.  The session will also be recorded via video and Images portions will be uploaded to the web using Twitter, Blogs and or Evernote. For analysis, the participants will be asked to relate their analysis directly via blog posts and and to communicate project design iteration toward project goals and beyond to web server development.


Sanders et al. (2005). Contextmapping: experiences from practice. CoDesign: International Journal of CoCreation in Design and the Arts, Vol. 1 No. 2, Taylor and Francis.

(2012) Creativity-based Research: The Process of Co-Designing with Users. UX Magazine, ARTICLE NO. 820 April 24, 2012

I derive my inspiration for fieldnoting from @triciawang and Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes, Emerson et. al.

Toward a Networked Introduction to Projects

“So the coin of the realm is not memorizing the facts and figures their going to need for the rest of their lives; the coin of the realm will be, do you know how to find, validate and
leverage information; do you know how to analyze and synthesize that
information; and can you problem solve, collaborate and communicate with
– Ken Kay [1]

Web 2.0 Foundations: A Course in Participatory Technology

An Opening Vignette:

Technology is a word we often confused with computers, programs, and myriad gadgets only.  If you dig deeper I think you would agree that humans have utilized technology in very innovative ways since the Middle Paleolithic (or for those numbers folks out there c. 200,000 years ago+-).  Be it friction fire, basket-making, agriculture, irrigation, warfare, in-door plumbing, radio’s or iPads there has always been a human driving the social use of these tools.  Elders, leaders, young people, wise people…. have always enabled and proliferated technology at the core of cultures.  We need to never loose site that you, the young people before us are entering a radically different world than the one we (the olders in your lives) came from.  Though pockets of traditional life ways exist (and may proliferate in terms of localization of food and economies), the connections young people have to the world and what the world needs are fundamentally shifting the narrative of our shared futures. We need a learning design that helps young people prepare for a world without borders.   So how are we (educators) responding? In 2008, Pearson put together this short video to make a few suggestions:

“We have to develop a narrative that sustains 21st century learning.”

The 21st century imperatives for learning deal with connection and connected learning.  Do schools enable you to find, validate, leverage, analyze, synthesize , problem solve and collaborate with information on a regular basis?  What does this look like?

Web 2.0 Foundations is designed to be a participatory venture between you our school, learners, teachers, the community and world that enables and moves you into spaces of dynamic individualized learning with new technologies.  This learning creates spaces (mental, physical and online) that enable  21st century literacies.

Over the semester I will post my design field notes for Web 2.0 Foundations and iLab Projects with a focus on networked learning, designs for extensive networked research, mLearning (Mobile Learning), project based learning and more. It is my hope that these fieldnotes give a record to your learning process and ultimately help the process of learning change so prevalently taking place in the world and right here in Midcoast Maine.

Your part in this design has begun and I am so happy to be in a network with you all.


A note on our distributed web.

We will tag everything we create with the following:

web20found (Social Bookmarking, this blog , student blogs (Called Lables))

#web20found (Twitter Hashtag)

web20foundtools (for specific tech tools used in the experience)

web20foundreading (for specific readings and research findings we like)

I will tag these posts with


#fieldnotes (Twitter Hashtag)