Research and Development

Completed prototype- Research and development, evaluation and a Business plan

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The final prototype that I have created is based on the principles of how advertising works in the educational business context and that is why every piece of paper or photograph that I have put into the folder is based on market research and research into reaching an audience. I have achieved this through looking at other competitors ways of distributing their ideas as you can see in earlier blogs and this is a breakdown of how I technically achieved each element.

The actual folder

Essentially just a net folded together to look fancy but as the shell for the actual resource inside it needed to

  • Look professional
  • Represent its contents
  • Stand out within competition

and this is where the knowledge of branding came into play. I sketched out the semiotics of what I wanted to represent, notably the use of a hand as a symbol of classroom interaction and discussed my ideas with a graphics designer. Together we put together the final design using Photoshop and illustrator and sent it off to a professional printers to be made.

Working with a professional associate was a beneficial experience, I learnt about budgeting, communication and unfortunately but beneficially the importance of checking a design before finalising it. On the front cover stands the tag line ‘Somethings cannot be taught from books.’ Taken from a real interview with a student in a discussion about my product it speaks exactly what I wanted it to, however it doesn’t speak it in a way which is grammatically correct. Within minutes of noticing my mistake I contacted the printers and unfortunately it was too late. Annoying? Enormously. Some thing (two words) to learn from? Definitely. Attention to detail, especially for selling an educational resource for the classroom is hugely important. Some things cannot be taught from books, and how frustrating it is to make such a mistake in a real life business situation is one of them.

Schon talks about a cycle of learning and in that way that experience was perfect, I developed something through research and then popular knowledge gave me an area to improve on and in the future I will be more careful with the detail.

The letter and FAQ’s

Throughout my research I have spent a lot of time talking to teachers and those within the educational sector. So to create a letter, on the size of A4 without sounding too desperate and to sell my product back to the audience who has helped me was something which required research before hand.

Surveying teachers on existing resource packs as you can read about in my previous blog showed me that a popular resource pack was ‘Stonewall’. Their straight to the point and honest approach in why their resource should be used in the classroom inspired me to write a letter to the teacher which not only breaks the ice but aims to explain the benefits of PshMe. Within the surveys I also discovered that teachers felt favourably towards the inclusion of frequently asked questions so I included these too.

If there was one thing which I would improve is stating the particular age of which the product is aimed at, to do this I would need to do even more research into the curriculum and age appropriate expectations. In the future I will be working closely with a group of teachers and those educated in this area in order to do this.

Demo DVD

Although I’ve done research into the technology behind augmented reality I am as far of from being a software programmer as Joey Essex is in learning how to tell the time. This is why I used existing skills and archive footage to demonstrate my ideas as closely as I could to the real thing.

I would love to have put more time into this demonstration as the animation was very basic, which is for my part a sign of bad time management but I thought that the screen shots were more effective in demonstrating my ideas and these went down particularly well in the beta testing of my folder.

Prompt Cards

I enclosed prompt cards to accompany the Demo DVD to replicate the interactivity that is a key theme with my software.

In the future I look forward to working with a programmer to actually replicate this interactivity into a demo as well as the software itself.

Example lesson plan

Context has become apparent to me as very important, as I have not been able to develop the software yet. I felt that a lesson plan which actually shows a way that my product could be used would help to do this.

In my feedback, one respondent very recently stated that:

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The emotional issue of confidence in using technology is something which I aim to deal with consistently throughout the future development of my product.

Technical details

Thinking back to the above comment and to this feedback during beta testing:

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I listened to the respondent, as schon tells us to learn from our research I enclosed a small note explaining the basic technology behind the software in a way that establishes a popular concern, child safety within the use of technology.

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So I have developed an innovative product by the terms of what my research defines one as, based on the genuine needs of teachers in a genuine context and have learnt and developed from my mistakes throughout to create an idea which, evidently whilst it still has room to grow also has room to sell. And that is where the business plan comes in.

Beta testing my product; Research and development

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On  finishing putting together the contents of my resource folder, I have sent off the folder and a short survey to several teachers to beta test my product and see whether I am on the right track, or if I’m not then what I need to do make it suit the needs of the audience.

In my folder so far, using the market research of existing resource folders and the opinions of these, there is:

The actual folder, branded with the graphics developed by myself and a graphics designer.

letter and faq (2) for the teacher, offering a brief insight into the product and clearing up any possible concerns they may have.

An example lesson plan to put my resource into context.

And a DVD of  a demo and screenshots of the software, including prompt cards as a visual guide.

The questions that I have asked my focus group are:

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Using the responses that I receive, I will continue to develop this idea accordingly to the wants and needs of my audience, the teachers.

Branding my product; Research and development

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The actual contents of a research folder are, in terms of being innovative the most important but the last couple of days I have been developing the branding of my resource folder. Although not the most important stage every stage of development should still be undertaken in an educated way, based on existing knowledge.

Starting with the name that I would choose, I wanted something that would represent what the resource actually was but in a fun way.

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Existing brand names, were typically no longer than one or two words and whilst some were a bit cryptic others made a little more sense.

I wanted a hybrid of fun but professional, so opted for something more sensical to the theme;

PshMe!

The PSH bit, personal, social and health is obvious but the Me! bit is to represent how the software is personalised to the viewer and is all about how you think.

And thats what the ethic branding of my product is; it’s fun but professional, follows the existing curriculum and is personalised.

‘Some things cannot be taught from books.’

And there is my tagline. Based on the feedback from one of the students I asked about the current teaching of pshe in schools. To create an innovative product, according to ‘What is innovation” by AGI, is to create something based on the genuine needs of your audience rather than something that you just have a desire to develop and that is exactly what I have intended to do throughout.

And on to developing a logo, although I’ve had a little practice with photoshop before I opted for help with developing my ideas more professionally.

Talking to a graphics designer about my product opened my eyes to the theme that I mentioned before, when designing something for a strict function, functionality is more important than typical attractiveness. Whilst branding is important, in that it creates the first impression of a product, where schools are under tight constraints of many varieties simplicities is appealing in a resource for the classroom.

Working with the graphics designer, these are the designs that we have come up with so far.

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The hand represents a willingness to interact in the classroom, the speech bubble to signify the freedom of speech and the light through the hand the use of the interactive whiteboard and advanced technology. Following the rule of simplicity, a logo which could be placed all over various products within my folder, the second one on the right is my favourite.

Following the rules of ‘innovation’ however, I will leave it up to the actual audience to tell me if it works or not as I ask them to beta test my resource folder in development.

Putting together a resource folder; Research and Development

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I have finally got to the stage of building a prototype, as you can imagine for the device I am creating, I can’t literally build the software and demonstrate it with an interactive white board as I do not have the time and money to do this in the space of 2 weeks. *eek*

However, with all new resources introduced to the classroom comes a resource folder for the teacher to play with and make a decision before committing to purchasing the licence. So that is therefore what I am building, based on the research of both existing resource folders and the opinions of the intended target audience.

I sent 500 surveys off asking two simple questions:

As a teacher, what is beneficial for you to find in a resource pack for a new product in the classroom?

and

What is a good example of a resource pack you have encountered before? What was good about it?

This turned out to be surprisingly useful, taking even just a single snippet of feedback for now:

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gave me something to look into. The stonewell resource pack frequently popped up as a strong example of a resource pack so I sent off for one.

I waited.

And waited a bit longer.

The deadline got much closer so i did my research into this pack online instead. The website, very usefully and clearly lists what the pack includes.

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I can see why respondents to my survey such as this teacher:

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think so highly of this resource pack. Yes, it is mostly leaflets but the idea is organised well into points and places the resource into content easily for the teacher who will be using it.

I’m taking note.

Using this research, I have decided that my own pack will therefore have a focus on clarity, overcoming potential problems and will include:

A letter explaining the product,

A visual demonstration with prompt cards,

Snapshots of the product,

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A potential lesson plan

and frequently asked questions.

Ethics of a product utilising ethics – Oh the irony! ; Research and Development

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I’ve talked about dragon’s den quite a few times within reference to marketing my product.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03wv70w/Dragons_Den_Series_11_Episode_11/ About 30 mins in.

And when I was watching it last night I panicked somewhat for a few moments,

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when this client walked through the lift door the voice over said ‘That she was coming up with a product, that she hoped would improve the emotional wellbeing of children.” Oh dear. I listened on with my hands almost over my eyes scared to watch.

And then next thing I know, she unveils this.

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It’s a virtual world. Oh deary indeed.

“Karisma Kids, is a fun safe and engaging brand that helps children to manage their moods and build self-esteem.”

Phew!

Although scarily close for comfort, this classroom resource does deal with ethics but it is aimed solely at the promotion of self whereas my resource deals other problems such as money handling, health as well self esteem as outlined in the department for educations guidelines for the compulsory teaching of PSHE in every classroom.

It also uses cartoon characters, which my research found were harder for young children to identify with than actors and so I will be using actors. My resource also uses webcam technology, a new and therefore innovative technique in the classroom, proven to challenge views, to really engage the students.

The dragons’ detected a major flaw in her product which made me think about my own however, she was  essentially charging a small fortune for both parents and schools to purchase the website with additional costly add-ons to improve the quality of the product and thus the boosting of the children’s self-esteem. Guilt complex much.

But am I guilty?

Yes I am aware of the competition and so recognise the need for profit to evolve a product which, considering it’s audience and purpose will need to continually evolve to fit its purpose but the main focus of my product, profit wise is to create a one sale product which appeals to all schools within all budgets. I don’t believe that it is fair for an underfunded school, where quite frankly the need for better PSHE teaching is often larger than say a private school to no be able to afford my resource which will make a difference. Therefore my product will require a one off licence fee for the software and that is all, which will be considerably cheaper as long as the school agrees to adhere to the Educational community licence. I believe this appeal will bring in a larger pool of interest than other approaches app developers currently use.

Other ethical problems

Talking of ethics, after talking to a pool of teachers on Twitter recently about PSHE and the way that is taught. A key message was drilled into me, the role of the teacher is to encourage ‘children to think but never judge them for what they do believe in. Encourage them to have their reasons.’ Therefore my resource will ask the questions but not give the answers ever. The rest of it is up to the teacher and the class.

Research strategy- Benkler, Y (2006) The Wealth of Networks. How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press; Research and development

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Although I have begun research, both primary and secondary as you can see from the progress I have made and stated in previous blogs, I am starting to look closer at my research strategies and what I aim to find from it.

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In the wealth of networks, Benkler talks about the difference between gaining information that has already been found before and gaining new information full of thoughts and opinions that are entirely new and innovative.

“Once a scientist has established a fact, or once Tolstoy has written War and Peace, neither the scientist nor Tolstoy need spend a single second on producing additional War and Peace manuscripts or studies for the one-hundredth, one-thousandth, or one-millionth user of what they wrote. The physical paper for the book or journal costs something, but the information itself need only be created once. “

To think of information as “nonrival”, suggesting that the informations consumption by one person does not make it any less available for consumption by another would suggest that existing information does not lose its value, and can be interpreted in plentiful ways without losing its credentials.

In relation to the development of my product, this would therefore suggest that I can use existing knowledge to my advantage.

Existing knowledge states that, the teaching of PSHE is famously awkward. Existing knowledge also shows that technology is increasingly favoured in the classroom.

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To combine this existing information into a whole new hybrid solution however, is to create something innovative and ‘rival’.

Therefore the research that I need to source, to develop something innovative needs to innovative itself. For example where I have asked ‘How does the use of interactive software aid you in your ability to teach?’ previously, I am now at the stage of asking ‘How would the use of interactive software aid you in your ability to teach PSHE?’.

In summary, Innovation is ‘would?’ rather than ‘does?’

Hardware, software , apps and all that jargon; Research and development

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I asked the question of the difference between all of the above on yahoo answers and these are the answers which I received.

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Application software is all the computer software that causes a computer to perform useful tasks beyond the running of the computer itself. A specific instance of such software is called a software applicationapplication programapplication or app.

The term is used to contrast such software with system software, which manages and integrates a computer’s capabilities but does not directly perform tasks that benefit the user. The system software serves the application, which in turn serves the user.

Examples include accounting software, enterprise software, graphics software, media players, and office suites. Many application programs deal principally with documents. Applications may be bundled with the computer and its system software or published separately, and can be coded as university projects.

Application software applies the power of a particular computing platform or system software to a particular purpose.

Some applications are available in versions for several different platforms; others have narrower requirements and are thus called, for example, a Geography application for Windows, an Android application for education, or Linux gaming. Sometimes a new and popular application arises which only runs on one platform, increasing the desirability of that platform. This is called a killer application.

Although I am not programme literate, distinguishing the difference between the platforms I will be encountering throughout my research has helped me to think more realistically about what I can achieve and how this can be done.

My Classroom resource in broader terms will, be a purchasable software from a platform such as Microsoft or the apple store whom both currently sell and supply downloadable software for Interactive White boards. Rather than a killer application, I would like to create a software which runs easily across all brands of boards for ease of use (if a supply teacher had a lesson planned with this software, they should be able to guarantee it to work on any interactive whiteboard the school uses), although as prometheus seems to be the most popular choice in the classroom this would be an ultimate priority if I could only opt for one brand. The software will use existing camera hardware technology that is already available on most IWB’s, however additional hardware can be purchased in addition to the software in the form of a camera that can be attached to an IWB without or with a poor quality integrated camera.