Monday, February 23, 2009

M364 Block 1, Unit 1, Activity 5

It is common for members of a multidisciplinary team to have different priorities which can lead to conflicts. For [an interactive website educational website to accompany a TV series], list the likely priorities of each of the following team members:

Interaction designer

Educational advisor

Graphic designer

Software engineer

Describe three different conflicts that may arise in the team as a consequence of these differing priorities.

How might different team members differ in their use of the word learning, possibly leading to miscommunication?

How might these conflicts and misunderstandings be overcome?
[1] The interaction designer would prioritise ease of use, ease of learning the site, and an appropriate balance of fun, challenge and satisfaction in the user experience

The educational advisor would be interested in promoting the education aims of the TV series, possibly even in supporting specific learning outcomes. He would also be concerned with ensuring that the educational approach suited the target age-groups.

The graphic designer would want to ensure that the site as a whole expressed good visual design quality in terms of fonts, layout, colour, and general clarity.

The software engineer would prioritise ease of implementation, performance, robustness, security and maintainability. For the user interface, these considerations might well lead him to prefer the use of a library of standard UI components.

Three possible conflicts include:
  • The educationalist might prefer the site's visual character to conform to the active and dynamic TV series, whereas the graphic designer might prefer a less cluttered and busy look, while the software engineer would be inclined to just keep it simple.
  • The team members might have different ideas about user interactions. The educationalist might, for example, want to give the user a choice of inputs using a thought-bubble containing floating images, whereas the software engineer would prefer to use a drop-down list or radio buttons.
  • The educationalist might want to animate parts of the site, for instance to give graduated feedback to users in response to inputs, whereas the software engineer and graphic designer might prefer to express feedback using standard error boxes and form transitions 
[2] The Educational advisor would probably use the word learning to refer to the site's educational topics and aims, whereas the other team members would be more likely to use it to refer to learning how to use the site

[3] Conflicts and misunderstanding could be reduced by recognising the problem and agreeing to adopt a common project vocabulary. This could even be made a deliverable, as a glossary section in the documentation or help system.

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