Literacy is traditionally understood as the ability to read and write. However, in recent years the dialogue about literacy education has evolved. In the information age, digital skills are central to being successful in our highly connected Internet society. Therefore, the notion of literacy has expanded to include the successful use of digital tools for meaning making and collaboration in online environments.
Currently, technology use in the classroom is primitive. Most applications simply replicate the function of paper worksheets. Additionally, educators struggle to infuse technology into their curriculum because of the lack of time and resources. Educators need an all-in-one website that is user-friendly, customizable, and measures student success against standards.
``To be digitally literate empowers students to use digital
tools – such as online learning environments, software,
hardware, etc. – for critical thinking and problem solving.``
Evaluate and reenvision the Professor Garfield content and organizational architecture to position the website as the leading voice in digital literacy education.
I was the usability researcher for the design team tasked with examining the context of use among three core stakeholders: teachers, students, and parents.
THE CLIENT: The Professor Garfield website was created to be a world leader in the direct, free delivery of innovative and motivational digital learning content with a primary emphasis on children’s literacy and creative expression.
THE PROBLEM: Literacy is traditionally understood as the ability to read and write. However, in recent years, the dialogue about literacy education has evolved. In the information age, digital skills are central to being successful in our highly connected Internet society. Therefore, the notion of literacy has expanded to include the successful use of digital tools for meaning making and collaboration in online environments.
DIGITAL LITERACY: To be digitally literate empowers students to use digital tools – such as online learning environments, software, hardware, etc. – for critical thinking and problem solving (Hague & Payton, 2011).
PROBLEM STATEMENT: Reenvision the Professor Garfield content and organizational architecture to position the site as the leading voice in digital literacy education.
OUR VISION: Digital literacy education will continue to evolve with new technology. Therefore, it is critical to position Professor Garfield as a leader in digital literacy by structuring the site according to how education should be delivered in the 21st Century.
Time prevents teachers from learning new digital tools as well as effectively implementing them into their classroom.
Students and teachers are not taught how to fundamentally or critically use digital tools. Technology use in the classroom simply substitutes traditional methods of education.
OUTCOME BASED LEARNING
Students are evaluated based on the outcome rather than the learning process. To adopt a learning tool, teachers need to ensure activities map to state standards.
HANDS ON LEARNING
Digital learning tools should not give students too much information. Rather, students should be encouraged to explore and find potential solutions.
BRAINSTORMING: I helped lead many brainstorming sessions with in-service and pre-service teachers across the Midwest to create a new website architecture and digital literacy curriculum. In order to meet the needs of the 21st Century teacher, our team created the framework: Play. Create. Achieve.
PLAY: Students play existing Professor Garfield learning games focused on common core standards. The learning games provide a foundation for the digital literacy activities on the website.
CREATE: Students create multimedia stories and digital products by completing activities in the new digital literacy curriculum. The cross-curricular digital literacy activities allow teachers to easily incorporate Professor Garfield activities into their lesson plan while embedding digital skills and hitting common core standards.
ACHIEVE: As students complete activities, they earn badges that they can use to earn Garfield prizes. This rewards students, while allowing teachers to track progress.
I co-created low-fidelity wireframes that were tested with in-service teachers and iterated upon throughout the project.
DIGITAL LITERACY ACTIVITIES
Narrate Garfield requires students build phonemic skills while learning how to record audio using a smart device. Students who complete this activity will earn digital literacy badges for functional meaning making and collaboration.
Photo Rhymes requires students to recognize sounds and simple rhymes and learn how to shoot and edit photos. Students who complete this activity will earn digital literacy badges for functional meaning making, collaboration, and creativity.
Story Plan requires students to use words and pictures to tell a story. This teaches them how to storyboard and why it is important. Students who complete this activity will earn digital literacy badges for collaboration and creativity.
FINAL PROTOTYPE DESIGN
Using the Adobe Digital Publishing Suite, I assisted in the development of a medium-fidelity prototype that reflected a feature set cultivated by in-service teachers. The prototype demonstrated the proof of concept to gain buy-in from Jim Davis and Paws, Inc.
PROFESSOR GARFIELD DEVELOPMENT 2017
In 2016, our team presented the Professor Garfield prototype to the board at Paws, Inc. The board gave the advancement of the project a green light. Following, the PGF team led a class of forty undergraduate elementary education majors to develop a digital literacy curriculum. With over 100 potential activities, we then conducted a saturate and group with the development team to identify the top ideas. Those ideas were then transformed into wireframes and tested with current teachers. The development of the project as a whole is still in progress.