Khoi Nguyen Truong

Case Study: Mammals and Habitats

Date

May 2013

Platform

Django

Team

Faculty Partner
Web Designer
Developer
Educational Technologist

Lead

Project management, usability testing, content strategy, user acceptance testing

Active contributor

Task analysis, user flow, interaction design

Want to collaborate?

Let's talk!

Mammals site

Classrooms visiting the Black Rock Forest can randomly sample one of its areas and conduct live trapping and release activities. Data collected from these excursions are fed into the habitat map so that over the years, the various habitats of the forest will reveal themselves.

Classrooms who cannot visit the forest can also benefit. They can use the online information collected by others to discuss migratory routes of specific mammals based on the habitats in which they are trapped and released.

Challenge

How can we make real mammals and habitats research data from the Black Rock Forest be accessible in a fun and easy way to students in urban classrooms?

Solution

Digital research grid and map visualizing a multitude of data points collected from citizen scientists.

Exploring

I extensively interviewed the faculty partner to understand the content before finding salient points about mammals and their habitats that could be represented online. The data comes from an in-person activity so it was important to also include orienteering, algebra and scientific method exercises to ensure its success.

Activities and outputs: concept maps, competitive analysis, comparative analysis, contextual inquiry, card sorting, user research, interviews

Mammals site

Making

It took many iterations to design the 3 main online components: random sampling of the forest, data entry forms, and visualization of the data in map format. Major constraints were: using existing Virtual Forest aesthetics and an open Django environment. To address the latter, an activity level login was created to protect data input.

Activities and outputs: collaborative sketching, scenarios, user flows, task analysis, lo-fi wireframes, site map, interaction design, paper prototypes, user interface design, content strategy

Mammals site

Verifying

Many schools use PC’s so I tested the site across browsers and operating systems. I also tested the whole curriculum on location with 20+ middle and high school teachers. Their valuable feedback was incorporated into the virtual and physical components of the project.

Activities and outputs: hi-fi wireframes, user acceptance testing, usability testing, specification documents, clickable prototype

Mammals site

Outcome

The Mammals and Habitats project is a crowdsourced endeavor. The more teachers and classrooms go to Black Rock Forest to do the live trapping and release activity, the more data point can be uploaded. In turn, the map will colorize and grow to reflect the habitats and mammals migratory patterns. At that point, students unable to make the trek to the forest can take advantage of the research data from their classrooms. In the meantime, students can learn about the scientific method using the web playground grid before doing the orienteering and algebra exercises at any park.

Live Site

Mammals site

Want to collaborate?

Let's talk!