Our Science Content Producer Becky Davies explores user testing and why it’s critical to Nano Simbox’s development.
In designing Nano Simbox, we are producing an education tool that will enable thousands of learners to play in and learn from the invisible world of atoms and molecules. If we are to realise our goals, the design must be based on the users’ needs and preferences to ensure users know how to play, explore and learn in this world.
For this reason, we run a User Testing programme, bringing the very latest version of the developing product to a different school each week
In our User Testing sessions we are able to get insights into what users do when they use Nano Simbox and to see how it compares with what we intend for them to do. From this we can assess what is working well and also see if there is anything we need to change to realise our goals, and to ensure optimal usability for the user.
How do we complete user testing?
Each session is centred around a specific aspect of the developing product to allow for focused testing. Most recently testing has centred on the STEMScript Creator – the part of Nano Simbox where users can tie together real simulations, everyday observations and their existing knowledge to solve science challenges.
These sessions offer students a chance to consolidate previous science learning, to further their science learning and to hone their problem solving skills, all whilst playing a key role in the development of brand new technology.
As well as playing with new technology, students get to meet the multi-disciplinary team behind Nano Simbox, giving them a unique insight into the skill-set required to produce cutting-edge software and offering an exciting opportunity for them to ask about careers in technology.
Teachers have an active role in these sessions too – it is very important to us that Nano Simbox is a based on real teachers experiences.
What has it meant for Nano Simbox so far?
Key insights from our User Testing Programme so far have been around:
- How inspired and excited students are by seeing the real structure and motion of atoms and molecules, often for the very first time, and how much of a game-changer it can be for students’ education to play in the world that is normally invisible to them
- The best way to navigate the software.
- The best way to combine simulations and pictures to explain how molecules and the everyday world are connected.
- Goal setting and rewards
Nano Simbox is underpinned by 10 Teaching and Learning principles (shown in the picture below) that inform all of our work and our User Testing programme also enables us to check we are meeting these principles.
Thanks very much to the teachers and students of Clifton High, Clifton College, Clevedon School, St Mary’s School Calne, Broadlands Academy, Selwood Academy, Ernest Bevin College, Kendal college, Rendcomb college, St John’s Marlborough, Wellsway school and many others for all of your insights so far.
@StMarysCalne @ErnestBevinCol @WellswaySchool @BroadlandsBS31 @ClevedonSchool @Clifton_College @KendalCollege @RendcombCollege @StJohnsMarlb
We can’t wait to find out more!
If you would like to join our User Testing programme, contact our Science Education Producer Becky Davies – firstname.lastname@example.org
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