How do people learn synchronously/asynchronously with distributed video?
City, Univesity of London
As part of my Masters I had to complete a individual disser-tation (project). The project needed to be novel and adding useful knowledge to the Human Computer Interaction Design (UX) field.
I explored these research questions:
- The typical challenges faced by groups of students who wish to use video as the focal point for learning in a digital setting and how they tackle them.
- What made a useful synchronous/asynchronous distributed video learning environment.
I was surpervised by Dr Radu Jianu from giCentre City, University of London.
DiCot analysis tool
Camtasia to record video
Windows Voice Recorder
The project was awarded a distinction. The project added new academic knowledge about collaborative workspaces.
Overview of method
+ Informal Interview
Deep qualitative analysis
Overview of method
Observations involved 14 participants acting as students in a MOOC learning environment and then being interviewed. There were two modes of observation: synchronous use of distributed video and asynchronous use of distributed video.
The observations aggregated the current actions and behaviours of distributed learning groups. In total there was 7 sessions conducted.
I oversaw the observation in a passive - marginal level. I sat not too far away from participants in the synchronous observation and joined their Skype call (see below). I sat beside the participant viewing video in the asynchronous observation. This allowed observation notes about distributed video to be done more easily opposed to multiple reviewing of sessions and informed the subsequent interviews. Also, if any technical issues occurred I was able to attend to it fairly quick. Otherwise, I was unobtrusive as the task was carried out by participants.
In the synchronous setup observations participants were put into different rooms at the same time and told to watch novice level video content about HTML and CSS together remotely using Skype and a YouTube playlist. Participants watched content together as they built a basic web page. To maintain naturalistic settings, participants were told to collaborate on their own agreed set of rules during their calls and do whatever they see fit. This led to an open-ended interpretive study.
In the asynchronous setup observations participants were also put into different rooms at the same time. However, this mode of the observations with video use was slightly structured to simulate asynchronous ‘viewing slots’ with the use of Skype to bring information together for collaborative calls. The collaboration element showed whether participants can collaborate based on viewing video at different times and can complete a task. Participants were told they will not be ‘online’ with another student when viewing video. They enhanced a web page about London together by sending each other information about CSS grids from a video on YouTube at different time slots. The way in which they sent the information was up to them.
For optimum data collection, both settings provided participants with a laptop, printed and digital task sheets, pen, highlighters and paper to make extra notes etc. Also, participants were given the freedom on how to orientate themselves and their allocated machines.
After the observations there were small semi-structured interviews poised as informal debriefings to the participants to ease off rationalised answers. The interviews lasted 5-15 minutes. The interviews allowed me to clarify any actions that didn’t make sense or gain further insight. Also, participants were able to raise concerns they felt the need to address from their experience in the session. The short interviews let me see how participants thought about the fictional MOOC environment they were put into.
The interview was more open ended as this project aimed to discover how a new design idea would work and additional questions were asked and didn’t necessarily follow the questions point by point.
The interviews allowed the study to gain a better understanding of how people used distributed video and is a form of methodical triangulation.
There was rigorous qualitative analysis regarding how groups of people work with video in distributed settings, in relation to learning topics. As a result, there was an account of how groups of people work in the learning context. Also, this informed the strategies students employ when watching distributed videos with peers, what other technologies and artefacts may be used and what is useful or lacking etc. The analysis focussed heavily on participant’s distributed cognition within the distributed setting. Therefore, the project mostly used DiCot and External cognition to analyse the data (academic topics and deep UX analysis).
In the data analysis stage, the raw data collected was coded through qualitative analysis to make more sense of it in relation to cognition. Coding presented the key components of the data set for this study. The coding allowed me to see how distributed and external cognition works in an online video viewing environment and how it effects learners.
Example of some coding that I did.
I conducted a Thematic analysis with the transcripts. This allowed me to uncover and detail patterns in overarching themes within the fairly small dataset. It helps inform the second research question by exploring what makes a useful synchronous/asynchronous distributed video learning environment.
There was a robust set of findings in this project using the frameworks and thematic analysis. Below shows some examples and shorten versions. Please view the whole dissertation to see all findings by clicking here.
Arrangement of equipment principle
Participants barely moved their arrangement of equipment but those who did showed useful strategies (below shows an overview). Having a note area and task sheet on the sides allowed the participants to engage with them but still get information free flowing as the laptop played in their direct observation (in front of them). Two participants moved the notes for their preference and ability to write. Otherwise, the equipment was arranged as it was like in the beginning of the session.
Information hub principle
The information hub was the Skype chat window but there was an unclear preference to what works the best: physical notes integrated into a call or digital notes sent over. Any case would lead to participants subtly using notes regardless.
All participants on this side of the study sent their notes to the Skype chat if they were digital except P7 who sent it within the call. P12, P8, P13 and P14 could not send notes as they just used the physical note taking paper. P8 provided a reason to why sending notes over doesn’t make sense to him “I feel like I used my notes for myself but not for the others” and P12 made it clear they cannot express their self digitally “I wrote on paper because it was easier to annotate stuff. Whereas Notepad it is a sequence…a piece of paper I can basically brainstorm all the stuff...."
• Writing on paper is an obvious issue because it is unable to be shared barring communication.
Upon completion of the thematic analysis of the interviews, there were four themes identified. The themes can go on to give some evidence to what makes a useful distributed video learning experience synchronously and asynchronously.
Design features for video learning synchronously and asynchronously
These were the design features I came up with after looking at my results. These design features could be used to drive or give ideas for MOOC developments that seek video at its core for social learning. Design features are by no means limited to this list but these are strongly justified by all the empirical work carried out.
For the synchronous level it is recommended that a video viewing system should: make use of web cam, microphones and remote-control access. Allow participants to have their own cursors, a shared note space, an integrated system, interactive video and short courses.
For the asynchronous level it is recommended that a video viewing system should: have an integrated system, notification system, note sharing, allow preparation beforehand, and create a collaborative space, leverage touch functionality and other tools for participants.
This space is by far too small to explain all design features, please see the PDF below.
I felt there was three takeaways from this research thus adding knowledge to the field.
A new communication hub for MOOCs
The findings suggest there is space for students to come together and communicate by viewing video remotely in real time and at different times. Through the interviews and observations, it is clear people enjoyed the sessions and are able to work together fairly well using Skype.
No need for presence of a tutor
This meant there is no need for extra tutor support as suggested by previous research. Students can help themselves through discussion and pausing video.
The need for more complete systems
It is clear that there is no complete system for learners to partake in a truly fluid distributed digital video viewing learning system. Participants faced barriers in having full coordination. Similar findings were found in old research when students used other tools to complete their learning system.
"In terms of how the results are analysed, how observations are derived and how they are harmonised and presented, this is an exemplary project!"
Dr Cagatay Turkay & Dr Radu Jianu (University of Warwick and City, University of London)
Based on the feedback I received for this work, I feel this project let me prove my skill-set as a UX Designer and able to complete a huge project independently. I showed the ability to observe, interview, analyse and report on user's behaviours. These are skills many UX Designers lack as they are more design (UI) based. My MSc has allowed me to develop skills that are so crucial for all UX Designers.