If you’ve followed my weekly posts about this experiment with Generation A+ (10-year olds) and were starting to get bored, I definitely have interesting development to share this week.
If this is the first post you’re reading, you’ve just stumbled upon the 4th post of my field notes about the extracurricular digital media lab I’m running as a volunteer this semester at a local elementary school with a group of 10- and 11-year olds.
I’ve mentioned last week that I struggled to get the kids’ attention when they have the iPads in their hands, but this session showed me how technology can help accelerate less-than-optimal group dynamics.
Things got a little out-of-hands in the workshop this week when I asked the kids to take pictures with their iPad.
I made another critical mistake at that point by NOT giving the kids more specific instructions than “take a couple of pictures with the iPad.”
Let’s Take Pictures!
My goal was to get a couple of pictures taken, edit some and then upload the pics to illustrate the posts the kids created in WordPress the previous week.
Since the group seemed to be so focused when they watched videos, I had selected a couple of very short videos on YouTube explaining how to take a screenshot and a picture. Earlier that day, I also recorded a 1-minute tutorial to show them how to add a photo taken with the iPad into their post using the WordPress app.
The workshop starts at 4PM and lasts for 1 hour, so I obviously expect the kids to be a bit tired and not as focused as they would if we started at 9AM.
That’s why I wanted to give them the freedom to take pictures without specific directions, but, let say, I’ve learned my lesson.
I’ve also witnessed during this session that iPad cameras can be used to mimic an existing shooting iOS game by aiming at a person and “shooting” (pressing the camera button as if it were the trigger of a machine gun) over and over – taking in the process dozens of pictures in only few seconds.
I won’t start about this iOS game designed to let its users pretend they are targeting (and shooting) people around them…
[sarcasm] But, wow, thank you so much to the developers of this game for releasing such a positive augmented reality gaming experience.[/sarcasm]
WordPress App Interface != WordPress Web Interface
Anyway, once I regained the attention of the group, we tried to upload a photo using WordPress iPad App to the self-hosted site I had set up for my group.
As I’ve mentioned before, this school uses the iPads only as pedagogical tools. Teachers check them out when they want to use them, so these tablets have multiple users.
This multiple-user scenario makes it tricky to use the WordPress iPad App.
It seems that when you are logged into a self-hosted WordPress install, you can’t log out.
If you know how to do this (I looked for it, but couldn’t find it), please let me know by posting a comment or a message.
Moreover, if you try to log in a multiple WordPress install, the user won’t be logged directly into the website you’ve assigned as it does on the desktop version. We were only able to achieve this by specifying the precise address of the self-hosted sub-site.
I’ve observed this difference between desktop and mobile app experience several times as I tried to have my group explore different applications and sites.
And, while it looks like a small thing to adult users or something you can fix easily when you can focus on 1 kid, it becomes a major pain in the neck when you have a group of 10 kids asking for help – I can’t imagine how teachers with 26, 30 or more kids can handle this type of situations.
We’ve experienced it with the WordPress App, but also with YouTube website and app (more about this next week). It’s just difficult to go seamlessly from a computer to an iPad or a mobile phone as experiences differ so much. What’s puzzling is that this scenario is very common as studies have shown we now live (and these kids grow up) in a multi-device world.
So, what are some practical take-away points for website or app designers?
Go back to the basics!
- Try to design across devices and platforms. The kids expect to be able to start an activity on a device and complete it on another. And, I’m sure all users do.
- Always try to walk in the shoes of your audience – try to browse your website on a computer, a tablet, a phone. Don’t lock the user out of some features because the most common scenario doesn’t require a given sets of features on a device.
The plan for our next meeting is to show my group how to do a slideshow with photos using YouTube. Iâ€™m sure Iâ€™ll have interesting observations to share on the topic next Friday and maybe at least one of their creations.
In the meantime, Iâ€™d love to get feedback from you (ideas and suggestions are also welcome) about this little experiment.