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Letting go of your prejudices (while staying inside that thinking box)

by Miia Lemola & Ekaterina Nikitina

Design Thinking workshop and concomitant readings have given us a lot of inspiration. However, it has also activated inner critics in us. We would like to share our thoughts about prejudices and limitations in creative thinking.

Creativity – a gift or a skill?  

In the workshop, we were thrown to the deep end to practice Design Thinking instead of analysing the term which might have confused us. For example, in the article “Wicked Problems in Design Thinking” (Buchanan, R. 1996) the focus is heavily on the philosophical question on what Design Thinking is. While the core idea of Design Thinking being about experimenting and understanding human experience is in the article, it does not bring it to concrete level. Buchanan’s work is also criticized by Lucy Kimbell (2011) for his generalisation of designers’ role in the world rather than studying individual designers’ approaches.

By throwing us in the deep end in the beginning we were forced to train what is the beginning of all thinking – ideas and creativity. We learned that creativity is not something a person has or not, but it is more like a muscle you can train. Many of us suffer from of our insecurities and prejudices such as “I’m not a creative person” and “I can’t come up with any ideas”. In the Social Distancing in Educational Institutions assignment we learned to create new ideas by making unlikely combinations of topics identified in mind maps. 

Letting go of your insecurities and prejudices help you in the process of becoming creative and designing new services. This happened also to highly introverted, technical and rule-oriented people such as Akshay Kotheri and Ankit Gupta who by attending a Design Thinking workshops in Stanford University eventually invented an app that was praised by Steve Jobs (Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. 2015).

Picture 1. Tschimmel, K. 2020. Workshop 4.-5.9.2020. 

What about the box?  

As an encouragement for training our creativity we often hear “Think outside of the box!”. Although, how far outside of the box are we expected to think? Do constrains make us more creative or do they block our ability for ideation?

We as designers are always limited, among other aspects, by the culture of the society. In the article “Creativity, Design and Design Thinking a ménage à trois” (2020) Katja suggested that the result of creativity is “changing a symbolic domain of culture”. If a product is too revolutionary, it might not be acknowledged as valuable by the community. It happened before to famous painters, writers, musicians, and scientists. 

The society constraints were also (accidentally) demonstrated in the class during Perception exercise (Picture 2). The task had only one “correct” answer, although fellow students suggested three other decent options. In this case the range of correct solutions was limited by the task creator. 

Picture 2. Tschimmel, K. 2020. Workshop 4.-5.9.2020. Edited by Ekaterina Nikitina 

Although limitations might be a brake in creating process, designers could also benefit from them. 

Famous Russian blogger and designer Artemiy Lebedev suggested that limitations, are “a real creative opportunity”. A designer receiving a clear assignment would do a good job, while a designer asked to do “the best something” would produce nothing (Lebedev, A. 2012.). Also, Kelley (2015) mentions that a few boundaries can not only spur more creativity but might also help to (re)frame the challenges. We felt this in class when workshop tasks had time limits. 

Combining the best of both worlds 

All in all, creativity is a doing process. Although studying history and a variety of theories of Design Thinking is vital, we found practicing creativity more efficient for understanding the ideas behind the subject. We also agreed that setting constraints – staying inside the thinking box – is a working solution for embracing creativity. However, when all the participants are in creative process with open heart and mind, not only innovative ideas are welcomed more likely by the community, but we grow as designers and realize that we can create. 

Picture 3. Source: Unsplash 

Miia Lemola & Ekaterina Nikitina. Course A9299-3004 Design Thinking. Laurea 2020

Ideas stolen from: 

Lebedev. A. 2012. The virtue of limitations
Buchanan, R. 1996. Wicked Problems in Design Thinking. 
Kelley, T. & Kelley, D. 2015: Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All 
Kimbell, L. 2011. Rethinking Design Thinking: Part I
Tschimmel, K. 2020. Lectures in Laurea University of Applied Sciences, 4.-5.9.2020 
Tschimmel, K. 2020. Creativity, Design and Design Thinking a ménage à trois. 

Dash 2018 Takeaways – How to Approach a Hackathon?

by Miikka Paakkinen

 

Last weekend I participated in the Dash 2018 design hackathon. During the event our team was challenged to design a new service business concept in less than 48 hours. The experience was wonderful, so I thought I’d share some key points on how to approach this type of a challenge.

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Point #1 – Keep the Pitch in Mind

 

  • To present a project, you’ll have to pitch it to your audience.

 

  • Having in mind what’s needed for a good pitch helps you define the key questions you need to answer during the project.

 

  • This helps you in choosing the way you work, the design tools you want to use, etc.

 

  • You might want to follow a design thinking model if a free-flowing way of working doesn’t feel natural to your group.

 

  • Here’s an example of a pitch structure that was suggested at Dash:

 

  1. Tag Line – The reason you exist for. Catch the interest of the judges.
  2. Problem – What is the problem you’re solving and who’s experiencing it?
  3. Solution – How are you solving the problem?
  4. Value – Why would someone give you money?
  5. Business Model – Who pays, how much, how often?
  6. Competitive Landscape – Map of competition + how are you different?
  7. Team – What’s your unfair advantage, why are you working on this problem?
  8. Traction – Why will it generate money, how much money per time unit?
  9. The Ask – What do you want from your audience?
  10. (Design Process) – This is specific to a design hackathon: you’ll need to be able to explain briefly how and why you got to your solution.

 

  • Points 2-5 are especially useful to keep in mind during the process. If you’re not solving a real problem that people face at a price they’re willing to pay while also generating profit, your project does not have real-world potential.

 

  • When it comes to the actual pitch, every second counts. If you’re lucky, you’ll have up to five minutes – use your time to deliver the essentials.

 

 

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Point #2 – Have Something Tangible to Show

 

  • It’s easier for your audience to understand your concept if you have something that in a very concrete way illustrates exactly how it works.

 

  • This could be, for example:
  •  
    1. Raw version of an app or software
    2. Interactive demo
    3. Animation of how your solution works
    4. Website
    5. Any sort of rapid prototype
    6. Video

 

  • This separates you from teams that have just a good concept or idea.

 

 

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Point #3 – Enjoy the Ride

 

  • Learn as much as you can from others.

 

  • Be open to new ideas and ways of working.

 

  • Don’t stress too much – you don’t have the time to achieve everything you want.

 

  • And most importantly: have fun with your new friends!

 

A big thank you to Aaltoes, the Dash crew and the challenge partners – see you again next year!

 

 

The author Miikka Paakkinen is an MBA student in Service Innovation and Design with a background in business management and information technology.

 


 

 

From nobody to creative designer

One Friday morning 28 students from different backgrounds sat down in a classroom at Laurea. At least as I know, majority of these people, had no or just little experience on designing, rather the opposite. The journey from nobody to be a designer had begun.

For long we have lived in a world where we have categorized people to either be creative or not.  As Tom and David Kelley state in their book Creative Coffidence, creative people were considered to be artists, architects, designers etc. Others should stay in their tightly described boxes and at least stay as far away from marketing or product development as possible. Tom and David call this “The creative myth”, which we, brave new students, were about to break.

As the world is changing into more and more complex, we need more creativity and ideas. Traditional way of creating things is just not enough anymore. Our lecturer Katja Tscimmel well pointed out; “just look around in your everyday living. Is there anyone more creative than a mon trying to get the kicking kid into kindergarten. Or have you ever realized how many variations of food you can make from yesterday’s leftovers.” How could we harness this everyday creativity to serve a bigger purpose?  The key is in mindset change.IMG_4140

Tim Brown stated already 2008 in Harvard Business Reviews article, that by changing the way we think, we can transform the way the business and the world is developed.  Creativity in business context is group work. Its taking advantage of peoples’ different experiences and outlooks on life and turning it into new innovative combinations of services, products or strategies.  Thinking an ideating together, testing new ideas and being able to think outside the given box is in the core of coming up with new ideas and innovations.

As we, new students at Laurea, were given our first task to innovate new student services, I was sceptic. Would we ever come up with any ideas or anything we would ever dear to show someone else? By letting go of the need for control or knowing the end results before even starting the work and just trusting the process, we dived into a fun, inspiring and in the end very creative group work.

Tim Brown listed some personality features needed to be design thinker and this how those showed in our case. We had to let go of our deep beliefs and step into the end users’ shoes. “What are the problems exchange student face?” Empathy combined with ability to use integrative thinking was critical. The use of “what if”, “How Could we” and “furthermore” took us forward in your thinking and in your ideation process. We had to stay optimistic and experiment things, as the clock was ticking. If it didn’t work, fail fast, take the next idea and be willing to start over if needed.

In the end of very inspiring two days we had internalized the design thinking idea, tested many creative DT tools and  created several new services to improve exchange students stay in Finland. Pretty well from “nobodies”   😉

I am on a path to somewhere! by Annamarja Paloheimo

Two days of learning by doing, experimenting, prototyping, role playing and presenting under the tutelage of Katja Tschimmel has certainly guided me on a path to something new.

Katja put her research into work as she introduced the Evolution 6 -Innovation & Design Thinking Model to us. In the model 36 different tools are introduced with the purpose of guiding us through the innovation process from identifying the challenge to presenting and implementing the solution. We worked through nine tools and created a presentable solution to the identified challenge.

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During the workshop it was comforting to understand that creativity and design is all about listening to customers, understanding their needs and getting feedback. Based on these observations and with the help of Design Thinking tools in an organized, interactive and iterative manner it is possible to transform existing conditions to something better.

After this experience it is easy to agree with Katja Tschimmel that Design Thinking methodology and tools are an effective way to find new perspectives, make sense of various phenomena affecting life around us and to innovate.

Design Thinking methodology and tools make the innovation process understandable, workable and approachable. The tools give a framework to work within, and the rules and assignments related to each tool will guide us to the next step on the process. With the help of the process and the tools the outcome is likely to be desirable, feasible and viable.

The two-day workshop with Katja Tschimmel gave me two true learning experiences.

First was understanding the value of listening to feedback. In order to benefit from feedback, it is necessary to have an open mind and understand that there is no need to defend the work, but to listen. Feedback gives an opportunity to improve the quality of the work. Feedback is a gift.

Second is the importance of presentation and visualization.Every solution or new product needs to be sold; both to the end-user but also to the organization producing it. Ideas need to be pitched to management and boards. In pitching the idea visualization and the presentation of the idea is a key to success. The pitch needs to be comprehensive but short, descriptive but simple and easy to digest both visually and verbally.

Gijs van Wulfen’s approach in presentation is very appealing. He recommends the usage of Business Model Canvas. It is a clear, strategic, commercial, professional and financial plan for a new initiative. By making a business case of the new initiative the persuasiveness of the case gets stronger as it highlights the strategic, commercial and financial aspects of the plan. In business context the initiative must always either increase revenue or decrease costs.

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After the work-shop I truly feel that I am on a path to somewhere. I like the idea of structured thought process and the tools to support it. I like the usage of analogies and semantic confrontations in the process. I am convinced that quick prototyping, roleplay and feedback will increase the quality of the outcome. Finally, it all boils down to presentation and storytelling. Doesn’t everyone just love a good story?

Learnings from Facilitation-as-a-Service

I had a possibility to facilitate three workshops for two different projects (2 ws + 1 ws) in this spring. The projects were related to improve empathy in health care, facing the patients and their relatives in new ways and find development ideas in the workspace. The participants of workshops were personnel and students of health care. I was a “hired” facilitator for these workshops with my fellow students. While still learning the magics of facilitation, I would like to share my early key findings and learnings. These findings are from my perspective and do not form any comprehensive list. I had no former background from health care at all. The workshops located in a hospital and a health centre premises in Helsinki, Finland.

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Keep the focus

The most important thing to start when planning a workshop, whom contents and themes are not familiar to you, is that you need to understand the target of the project and this specific workshop. To have a workshop is not the reason itself, it should create something valuable. Ask targets from different perspectives, clarify them to yourself and make sure, that you have understood right. And make sure that the subscriber of the facilitation, the person who has hired you, understands you. Actually, it is not so important to understand the subject matter (for example the daily life of a hospital department).

Choose right methods and language

When the target is clear to you, choose right methods and tools for the workshop. You need to understand the backgrounds and expectations of participants. A lot can be done in few hours’ workshop, but too much is too much. Always. What are the things which can or need to be done in advance? For example, in my cases, the basis work was done by health care students. Source material for the workshops were personas and stories. It was quite easy to start with those.

We modified the name of the methods. Customer journey paths were used in workshops, but we used a word “patient path” instead of “customer journey”. Respectively, the empathy map was called “emotion path”. It would have been nice to ask the participants to create an idea portfolio, but we asked participants to prioritize ideas like picking up “pearls”.

Timing, timing, timing…

A big part of planning was the scheduling of the workshops. It was important to imagine the whole workshop from the very beginning to the end. How much time is needed for introduction of the agenda and facilitators? How many breaks are needed? How much time needs each new method or part of the workshop? And their instructions? Still, you need to make the schedule slightly flexible – some surprises happen always! One tiny thing, which can totally ruin your wonderfully planned schedule is the IT-equipment of the premises. Please ensure beforehand, that your laptop fits to displays and other devices. Be prepared for that nothing works except papers and pens. Have a lot of those!

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And finally…

After all careful planning, take a deep breath and relax. Everything will go well – and if not, invent quickly something! Remember the target and find to way to achieve it. Good luck 😊

 Author of the blog is Pia Rytilahti, MBA candidate at Laurea University of Applied Science

 

Co-creating healthcare – improving customer interaction

 

 

Customer interaction is a key element in healthcare services. Laurea  students from the nursing degree program have been working on an intensive project with Suursuo Hospital in Helsinki. Kirsi Ronkainen, leading the project from Laurea University of Applied Science offered the chance for SID2017 students to participate as facilitators in a workshop with about 40 healthcare professionals from the hospital as well as Laurea nursing students. I volunteered to join Johanna Waal and Pia Rytilahti in the facilitation team for the workshop organized in April.  For us this was an opportunity to experiment the fresh learnings from Marc Stickdorn’s Service Design Process workshop, and we were eager to try in practice the different service design tools and methods for facilitation.

Improving customer interaction

The aim of the project in Suursuo Hospital is to improve the quality of interaction between the personnel and customers: patients as well as the relatives of patients. In addition, the quality of interaction may also improve the image of the hospital. As result of the workshop, the objective was to identify concrete themes of development to be further elaborated together with the personnel and the group of students.

The group of Laurea nursing students had already been working closely with the hospital staff and patients, interviewing and observing the life in the different departments of the hospital. Based on their insight they had worked on several user profiles with positive and negative customer stories. These stories served as an introduction for the groups.

The first task for the groups was to work on a customer journey map as well as an emotional journey and really think about the different steps from both customer and personnel perspective. This was a great way to put the teams to work.  Here we used a method with one paper many pens to get the all of professionals to participate.  This wasn’t easy in all groups. I tried to focus on the helping the groups to move along and not letting one group member to dominate. Next the groups chose a challenge to work further with and then ideated solutions focusing on one of the challenges identified. Here the teams were using 10&10 method. Thereafter the teams got to select a most prominent concrete idea with positive impact to customer interaction. The selected idea should also be easy to implement. The third part of the workshop needed some warm-ups, Johanna run some breathing and body movement exercises to get our groups ready for the creative part. and to use drama to present their selected development ideas.

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Learning by doing

I have been working as a facilitator in my work – but almost always, more or less in the content owner role. We had the chance to focus on how to get the teams working, and evaluate our  own role as a facilitator.  There were some professionals first reluctant to participate in the workshop session, but as the work moved we managed to get them along. I learnt a lot on how to help the teams further and what can I do better when briefing the teams. And we also saw in practice how impossible timing gets the groups moving.

Thank you – an intensive afternoon! It was a great learning experience to collaborate with Kirsi and the nursing students, as well as the committed individuals from the hospital staff.  Not the least, we had a great team spirit in this intensive project and Pia was a great project manager for us facilitators. Looking forward to hear how the development work in Suursuo hospital proceeds!

The author Kaisa Spilling is a Service Innovation & Design Masters student who has a passion for design, experimentation  & smarter cities. 

Encouraging co-creation by facilitation

Three SID students, Johanna Waal, Kaisa Spilling and me, Pia Rytilahti, got an interesting possibility to facilitate a development project workshop on 24th April in Suursuo Hospital in Helsinki. The project is a part of Laurea health care students’ studies. The targets of the project are first to develop the quality of interaction between the personnel and patients, also including the relatives of patients. Second, the image of the hospital can be improved by the improved quality. The project continues from the results of a prior project with Suursuo in last semester.

Before the workshop the students participated in the daily life of 8 hospital sections. Based on the observations and interviews of patients and personnel, some fictive personas were created and stories about their patient journey.

Facilitating is a tough job

The agenda was planned carefully for the workshop. The facilitators met few times Kirsi Ronkainen, the teacher of the students, to get the target clear: by co-creation to recognize the new possibilities for interaction improvement. The result of the workshop should be concrete ideas to implement in the hospital

The workshop was very intensive 4-hour-working with about 40 representative of personnel and 20 students. After Kirsi’s and Kaisa’s brief introduction of the topic and facilitators, Johanna ran a brief warm-up exercise. Pia introduced the groupings to teams and work began.

First, the students in the teams introduced the personas and stories, both in positive and negative point of view. Based on the stories, the first exercise was to create a customer journey (“potilaspolku”) and then to draw an emotional mapping (“tunnepolku”) and comments for each step of the journey. Phew! Now we needed a break with a cup of coffee!

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After the break, the most prominent challenge to develop was chosen by the team from the findings of the maps. Then started ideation – by using 10&10 method. First so many concrete development ideas (“10” ideas) related to the challenge were created in given time, 3 minutes. Then the each member of the team introduces her ideas, and the ideas were grouped. After that the most interesting idea or group was chosen – and then “10” new ideas from that. Finally, after all ideation, the team was asked to pick the most prominent concrete idea which would have a positive impact to customer satisfaction and would be easy to implement.

Drama as a prototyping tool

We made some warming up to get ready for the last part of the workshop. Johanna led us to use our breathing and body movement – which were needed in the presentation. After 20 minutes preparation each team presented their development idea, most of them with drama. All presentations were very good, and each team gave their best to make their idea alive.

Facilitating reached the goals

It was a busy day, but with sound plans and good methods the target for the workshop was achieved. A big group of people non-familiar to service design fundamentals had a productive and openminded co-creation session. It was awesome to participate with our small share in this development project, which will have tangible impacts on daily lifes of patients and their relatives, as well as the personnel of Suursuo hospital. 

Facilitating for better customer experience

I had the pleasure of facilitating two workshops with Pia Rytilahti in mid-February. The workshops were part of study unit of developing service for future nurses. The objective of the course is to teach how to develop services in health sector.

Prior the development workshops the students had observed different phases of customer experience and made short reports of their observations. In addition, based on the observations personas were created to make the results more tangible. The feedback from the health center personnel for the results were encouraging. The findings were familiar to them, but to hear them presented from customer point if view made them real. Also, the need for changes in customer experience became clearer.

The planning of the facilitation script started way before any results of observations were received. This is quite often the case in ‘real life’, too. As a matter of fact, a facilitator is to put the structure to the workshop and to oversee it meeting it targets. In depth understanding of the content takes seldom place. We knew in which phase the students should be when it was time to run the workshops, so that formed the base for the way we should run it. Members of the personnel was to join each group.

After a couple of meeting s with the course responsible Kirsi Ronkainen we decided to use the method World Café around four themes selected by students for ideation. That was basically the content of the first workshop. In World Café the group rotates from one theme to the next one generating development ideas of the theme in question. The last group after the round created an affirmation map with prioritizing the ideas on flipchart.

The original plan was to run identical workshop on the second day as the members of the personnel were different persons. However, the number of students were four times as many and it would have not benefitted the outcome as frustration was evidently to occur. Therefore, we asked the groups to rethink the prioritizing, choose to work further, create stakeholder maps and at the end a swimlane map with timed actions to execute the idea.

The key learnings were that storytelling is an effective tool to make the development areas tangible, especially when the participants come from different backgrounds. Evaluation after workshop is essential, thus we made the decision to change the facilitation script for the latter one. And to talk about facilitation script, it is good write one with all the needed equipment, the purpose, method and outcome of each section run during the workshop. To have the eye on group dynamics is the responsibility of a good facilitator. And last but not least, to keep the time to ensure the set outcome.

Facilitation for 100 people? How to cope that?

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Photo by M. Jakubowska

Facilitation is the key of service design projects. According to Schein (1990) facilitation is a process of HELPING, putting more emphasize on inquiry of the problem, and combining methods that will help facilitator be enabler, not a leader of the process with the approach of owning the problem. In the last project I became a part of (with team of 7 other facilitators) I tried to follow this rule. Continue reading

Learning programming through the power of design and data

 

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“Programming is boring”

With these words began a Design Lab lecture at Campus London. The two speakers Jenny and Regina were presenting a case study of developing NoobLab tool, an intelligent learning environment for teaching programming. The speakers had just concluded an eight month project at Kingston University, where the goal was to develop an existing service to improve student engagement and provide a better tool for students, through which they could follow their own learning path.

The speakers had researched how university students were learning programming and found that there were many challenges in the teaching.  Through research they found out that many students struggle with following and internalizing the teachings and only experience superficial learning. Many also suffered from the idea that “programming is boring”.

It was interesting to hear about this the development project where active learning was used as the framework. This is a form of learning in which teaching strives to involve students in the learning process more directly than in other methods and which mimics real life structures and situations.

Active learning is a process that has student learning at its centre. Active learning focuses on how students learn, not just on what they learn. Students are encouraged to ‘think hard’, rather than passively receive information from the teacher.” Source: Cambridge

Learning Experience Design (LX design), which was a new concept to me personally, was the design and research approach of the study. This holistic and human-centered design process focuses on the learner in order to find goal oriented ways of learning.

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As research was done in three stages: Learn, Build and Deploy. In the image above all the different research aspects can be seen, but the speakers delved into just a few of the methods. The Learn stage included User interviews, Personas, User journeys, Learner Journeys, Learning analytics, Heuristic evaluation and Competitor analysis. Build stage included Content audit, Framework, User testing, Ideation as well as Wireframing and Prototyping. The research ended with the Deploy stage, where the service was piloted and tested. This data will be used for further iterations.

Learning experience design is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human centered and goal oriented way.” Source: Learning Experience Design

Using Service design tools

During the lecture, the speakers introduced two of the service design tools, which they used in their research: Personas and Prototyping.

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Personas were created based on the interviews with 23 students, aged 18 to 35. Within the programming student group the researchers developed six different personas: 1) The Follower, 2) Medal Hunter, 3) Coding Enthusiast, 4) Expert Coder, 5) The Helper and 6) Anti Persona. These personas were then put in a matrix based on their motivation and personal plan for learning and four user groups could be identified.

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Prototyping was done in three different staged. First a low fidelity paper prototype was created of the improved tool, where for example changes in navigation were included. After that a wireframe was created which was tested with real programming students. Based on the feedback and comments received, as the last step, a high fidelity prototype of the learning environment, which was close to the final product in elements and visuals, was presented and tested with students.

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According to the speakers, the feedback from the testers was extremely positive, and a future project for implementation and piloting was given a green light. The new and improved learning environment will be launched and tested with students in the future in hopes that the testing results will prove an increase in student engagement and enhancement in their learning curve.

Below are images of the NoobLab tool before and after the research. The new version is more visual with better navigation and different ways for students to engage and follow the path of their learning.

Read more: NooLab: An intelligent learning environment for teaching programming

@campuslondon

Written by: Leena Salo, SID student