reviews

Course notes: Designing an inclusive chatbot

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I recently completed the Designing a Feminist Chatbot course on FutureLearn. As a starter course it has a lot going for it, covering areas such as different chatbot uses, how chatbots can become biased, user centred design (UCD) principles, persona creation, conversation design, storyboarding and prototyping. Having studied UCD at degree level and worked on countless software design projects in my career this could have become a bit boring but it’s always good to revisit the basics and is especially interesting to apply existing knowledge to new problems. There were some fascinating new areas to me such as conversation design and chatbot personality design, and the course drew heavily on the Google Conversation Design Process which is a great resource in itself and has some useful canvas-style templates for guiding the development of a chatbot.

While the feminist angle was interesting, for me the course was more about developing an inclusive chatbot rather than specifically a feminist one. The taught materials focussed on UCD principles around knowing your users and designing for them, which is decades old stuff, but then added more modern topics such as understanding how biases can be surfaced and how stereotypes can be reinforced by your design. This all becomes especially important when designing conversations, characters and chatbots. I feel much better armed about inclusive chatbot design now than I do when I went into this course, so it has served its purpose well and helped me to identify some areas I’d like to dive deeper into.

The final part of the course was a coding section. Given the prevalence of no-code chatbot tools in the market this seemed a bit unnecessary. While doing this course I was also researching no-code and low-code chatbot development tools and have selected FlowXO, so I would have preferred to apply the taught materials in my tool of choice. But I’m happy that now I have some of the core principals of chatbot design and a development tool to work with, I’m ready to start doing some CPD around using chatbots for learning!

Is Google Glass failing our children?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Following on from my initial exploration of Google Glass, I was keen to see what my kids would make of this device. As anyone who has seen a toddler using an iPad will know, some technology is just so intuitive that kids take to it like a duck to water. So I wondered what challenges Glass would throw up for a child, whether they would reflect my own challenges and frustrations in getting familiar with this device. After all, I had to undo decades of engrained user interface practice, whereas my daughter only had a few years of computing under her belt. Sharing Google Glass with my daughter turned out to be just as exciting and eye opening as I had hoped, but what really surprised me was the rather sobering reflection it led to, about just what kind of future we are leading our children towards.

MoodleBrighton December 2013 – Exploring Moodle 2.6

Reading Time: 4 minutes

After a lapse of several months we finally had a MoodleBrighton meetup last week. It was good to see everyone again and to catch up on what’s been going on, and we had a couple of new faces too. It was a good session, loosely based around an exploration of Moodle 2.6 with attendees coming from Sussex Uni, Brighton Uni, Moodlerooms and Epic.

2012 – a year of learning technology failures

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s that time of year when all the movers and shakers attempt to predict what will be big in 2013. Well there are no such predictions here. However, they do say you can predict the future by learning lessons from the past, so I’m going look back over the past year instead and ask: what was crap about 2012? (I should reiterate that these views are, of course, entirely my own…)

Moodle 2.2 preview – the mobile LMS

Reading Time: 6 minutes

December sees the release of Moodle 2.2 which is now under code freeze and being put through the rigours of the Moodle QA process to iron out those last niggling issues prior to official launch. The beta is already available on the Moodle Downloads page and the team are encouraging people to download and test it and feed back any issues found.