Final Progress Report

May 8, 2010

Well, it’s been a long semester, but I truly enjoyed producing this project.  Here is my final presentation, summing up my experience.

I Can Read! Final Presentation

Thank you for your interest in reading my blog.

Best wishes,

Elizabeth

This last week I created my final project iteration.  I had received some additional feedback from classmates concerning the Alphabet Series of flashcards.  I added color to the outside edges and matched the letter color to the border.  In addition, I added a stroke around the words in the Animals series to enhance the clarity of the words against the images.

View the final project: Alphabet and Animals

I am glad to have had the opportunity to work on this project and produce something that my daughter will be able to use.  This week I will be creating a presentation outlining the progression of my project throughout the semester.

This week I worked on another draft to post for review and critique by my classmates.  The biggest change I made to the project this week was to update the images in the Alphabet series so that they would be more easily recognizable by young children.  There were a few images that my test audience mentioned I should change.  I also decided to use only illustrations in the Alphabet series.  Previously, the images were a mixture of illustrations and photos.

Here’s a comparison of the Yy flashcard:

Yy1

Yy - Version 1

Yy2

Yy - Version 2

I’ve received some feedback on this iteration of my flashcards.  I think the Animals cards can be considered complete.  I may change a few images still in the Alphabet series based on my feedback.
Next week I’m looking forward to creating a final draft and working on a presentation of the life of the project from start to finish.
 
 
 
 

This week I was given an opportunity to post a problem I have been having with my project so that I could receive advice from my professor and fellow classmates.  My main problem is time.  I’m very happy with how well the flashcard project has been going so far, but one thing I’d mentioned I wanted to include was a book that went along with the flashcards.  However, I have not had a chance to start on the book.  I went through the Lynda.com tutorials that I think taught me what I need to know to be able to create the book.  But my problem is getting time to do it.  My main concern was that flashcards weren’t “enough”.  I was worried I hadn’t satisfied the project requirements.

It turns out I’m not the only one with time problems.  Most of my classmates expressed their frustration with not having enough time to do what they want to do with their projects.  This brought up several interesting points: what is college about really?  Is it just to get a piece of paper?  Or is it something more?  Can you learn as much about yourself in college as you can about the subject you study?  Why do we create these insane schedules for ourselves and stress out for four months of not having enough time?

All good questions.  I don’t know that anyone in class has the answers.  But I feel that I at least am working on answering at least a few for myself.

But on a more practical note: my project is just fine.  I did extra research at the beginning that should definitely be included in part of my final presentation.  I’ve decided that while I would have liked to include a book, I can always continue with the project at a later date…when I have more time.

This week I’m looking toward finishing up with the flashcards and making my final iteration.  I will also be working on a final presentation of the life of the  project and how I got to the end result.

The last two weeks I have been focused on studying the readability and usability of my flashcard project.  The goal was to “test” the project on representative members of the primary and secondary audiences.  My initial challenge was determining which people to ask to test my project.  Though my daughter is my primary audience, I don’t know very many other families with children her age.  In the end I tried the flashcards on a couple children a little older than my daughter in addition to having her try them.  Those three children, aged between 1-6 years old represented my primary audience.  At the onset of the project I determined the secondary audience would be made of myself and my husband, my daughter’s babysitter, grandparents–basically anyone that might go through the flashcards with her.  To represent this audience, I asked my husband, my dad, and two neighbors that have small children, to test the flashcards.

The testing was a success.  I asked each of the adult test subjects to answer the same five questions intended to determine how clear the flashcards were to read, how interesting or engaging they were, if they were an appropriate size, and if this is something the subjects would use with their children.  I aslo asked for any other comments.  I learned some interesting things about my project.  First, I am pleased to report that the flashcards are very clear to read.  I’m especially pleased because I focused a lot of time on ensuring the font was appropriate and that the words (especially in the animals series) were legible on top of the photos.  Second, almost everyone mentioned the cards should be bigger.  I had even printed on larger paper than I originally intended, so this was a surprising result.  However, it is easy enough to set-up printing to make bigger images.  When I printed on larger paper, the upscaling did not affect image or text quality.  I’m confident that this change can be resolved through print settings and does not require any changes to my project.  Finally, one fact I learned that I had not considered was that some of the images were taken at such an angle or were unusual enough that they might be unrecognizable to small children.  For example, this image of a yo-yo. 

Though I hadn’t considered this when originally selecting images, it seems like it should have been obvious.  So one thing that I will change is some of the images I selected.

Looking ahead to next week, I will be contimplating and posting any problems I am having with the project for group discussion.  I believe the biggest problem I’m having is that I don’t have enough time to make more flashcards and create a short book.  I have a great desire to make the book, but doubt that I will be able to do it justice in the short time that is left.  At the same time, I wonder if I’ve done enough to satisfy the requirements of the project.  This is something that I will post to the discussion board for the class.  My professor and classmates should provide excellent feedback and advice.

There was not much in the way of progress to report this week.  The goal for this week and next is to test a draft of the project on the primary and secondary audiences to determine its readbility and usability.  This week I spent trying to determine who to ask to review the project.  I know I will show it to my daughter, but don’t expect a lot of feedback from a 1-year old.  I will also be showing it to my husband, father, and mother.  They are all members of the secondary audience and will be able to give good feedback on how useful and readable the flashcards are.  I want my dad to review it specifically because he is red-green colorblind.  I am going to talk to a friend that has a two-year old to see if she and her son will take a look to round out the primary and secondary audience test subjects.

It will be difficult getting any exact feedback from the primary audience.  They don’t necessarily understand what I’m looking to find out or even what the point of the flashcards are.  My daughter can’t even talk yet.  So my goal in testing the cards on the two children will be to note their reactions to and interest in the flashcards.

I’ll have a final readability/usability report ready for next week’s posting.

Over this last week I gathered the editorial review feedback I received and made some decisions on how I would or would not apply the feedback in my project.  In summary:

  • Layout – it was recommended that I look at layout for some of the Animals flashcards.  I have since reworked some of the layouts to try to increase legibility.
  • Colors – some of the flashcards in the Animals series were harder to read, because of the color choice for the words.  I have gone through and adjusted the tone of some of the words to increase legibility.
  • Interest – my reviewer mentioned that the Alphabet series of flashcards was nice, but might not attract the interest of a toddler.  She suggested incorporating pictures.  I have now done so.  I actually am not sure that I like the result.  I think I’m going to have to work on how to better add visual interest to these cards.

See the updated versions here: Animals and Alphabet

I learned about Swatches and creating new colors this week, which is where I was lacking when I made the original version of the flashcards.  I think learning about this (which was buried deep down in the Lynda.com tutorial) has helped a lot to increase readability.  My major concern this week was adding the images to the Alphabet series.  I really like the original series.  There were no negative comments about the series, just that it seemed like it would help a 5-year old better than a toddler.  I guess that’s a big problem since my primary audience is a toddler.  I’m still not happy with the images that I chose, though I really like the illustrations better than photos.  I may try to find more illustrations to replace the photos and see if that works out better.  I may also adjust the colors of the letters in the cards to match the illustrations I use.

This coming week will be dedicated to a readability/usability analysis.  I’m also going to attempt to lay out a short book if time permits.