myCourse is a virtual online learning application, mostly geared toward art and design related training. This application allows students to learn, collaborate and interact with instructors and one another.
The myCourse virtual learning environment allows students to learn, collaborate and interact with instructors and one another. Through the use of live and recorded videos, interactive slides, collaborative screen sharing, and file sharing students and instructors will be able to interact with one another in a more engaging way. Instructors can draw and annotate directly on a students shared screen in real time. The application will also include a dedicated area for student collaboration and discussion; teams can also be designated for the use in team-based exercises.
There are many challenges associated with online virtual learning. One of which, as stated by Mohammad Saleem Darwaish and Fang Wang in an article titled “Investigation and Prototype Design of Collaborative Virtual Learning Environments”, is that currently virtual learning environments “provide useful functionalities for online learning, they are less efficient in supporting collaborative learning of groups of learners.” (Darwaish & Wang, 2012). Current virtual education solutions are more about the instructor simply serving content to the student; the student completes the work, returns it to the instructor and awaits feedback. The goal of this application will be to facilitate more engagement and interactivity, not only with the instructor but also with other students. Another concern with virtual learning is that instructors are unable to decipher a student’s emotional state. Through the use of custom emoticons students will be encouraged to add icons to their discussions and questions. This will help instructors determine when a student(s) is becoming frustrated, allowing the instructor to focus more attention on that student or adjust their lesson if multiple students are becoming frustrated.
The target users for this application are instructors and students in the fields of art, design and game development. This is a very popular and growing field with many online learning opportunities ranging from simple online tutorials to full online degree programs.
All interviewees are currently enrolled in art and design related degree programs. Two are specializing in game art and design and the third is specializing in web and graphic design. All have had experience with taking online courses. Two interviewees are currently taking online courses. All interviewees stated that they enjoy taking online courses because of the flexibility of being able to complete their work on their own schedule. No interviewees have participated in a live online course so they have no preference, one interviewee stated that they would like to try a live online course but have not had the opportunity to do so.
The next step in the the design process of this application was to quickly try out different ideas through the use of thumbnail sketches. These sketches represents a course module selection screen. Navigation is located on the left, on the right is a collapsible toolbar where users can download project files, post and read the course discussions and initiate the screen share feature.
The purpose of the paper prototype was to explore possible interface and navigational solutions for a virtual learning environment application. Users need to be able to access available courses, watch videos, participate in discussions and save/bookmark courses and sections.
An interactive prototype was created using a high fidelity design. This interactive prototype was created using Invision and was used to conduct a quick and dirty usability evaluation. This evaluation was primarily to test the user flow and navigation with the main focus on users locating and resuming a lesson that they were previously viewing. (In this case Intro to Environment Modeling and Texturing).To view the interactive prototype click the following link: https://invis.io/YZ9LCO7JX