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Huda Khan

A) Questions from your perspective as a role-play participant:

1. What were your impressions of your role-play experience?
I had seen a demonstration of the PITA board but actually being able to interact with it as if I were actively involved in constructing, analyzing, and modifying
the group perspective on the process of creating a new bus route for the community allowed me to better understand how and why the board would be used.

2. Were there any aspects of the role play that made you apprehensive?

I was hoping that the concerns I presented while playing my role would be close to the actual concerns of a person who would be in my situation in real life.

3. Did you feel that the role play contained any elements of what real users from a real neighborhood working on a real problem might have experienced?

I did feel that the role play exercise reflected the kind of discussion, problem framing, and negotiation that would occur in such a real situation.

4. What do you think might have been lacking from the experience that would have existed in a real situation rather than a role play?

I personally wish I'd spent more time in giving my particular role more personality and making him more three-dimensional, as some aspects of that would probably
have affected that person's main concerns in the construction of the bus-route. As it was, the information given was sufficient to come up with a few basic concerns which would directly affect the modification of the bus route. Still, a "real" person could have a host of issues which may not have seemed to have direct bearing
on the bus route problem at first glance but would have affected their preferences and their decisions.

Furthermore, an important point was made during class which was that the population cross-section that actually came to such a town hall meeting may have been different from the one imagined for this role playing exercise. Oftentimes, people who do not think they are being directly affected by the problem may not show interest in attempting to discuss or solve the problem. Even if they are indirectly affected, perhaps certain roles that were represented in the role playing exercise may not have considered the problem directly relevant to their own situations and may not have appeared at a real townhall meeting.

5. Were there any ways that the technology aided you in reaching a decision? Were there any ways that it impeded the process?

Technology helped me by allowing me to view the location of my house, the distance I was willing to walk in different kinds of weather, commercial and residential sections of the area, the bus route, and schools all represented directly on the board. This representation was much more comprehensive and offered more contextual information and cues than I would have been able to easily acquire on my own.

Impediments might include being restricted to the questions and options presented by the program (e.g. I was supposed to be 75 but had to decrease my age by 10 years since the maximum allowed age was 65; perhaps factors other than the ones available would influence the number of blocks I would be willing to walk in certain kinds of weather).

B) Questions from a designer's perspective

1. Do you feel that there is any merit to this form of assessment compared to more traditional isolated task-oriented methods?
2. What insights do you think that might be gleaned from using this technique that other techniques might miss?

The following picture comes to mind when I think of "isolated task-oriented" methods: an individual given the general bus-route problem and told to specify the locations where they would recommend the bus route would go and what factors influence their decision. The task is bus route redesign and each person is asked separately about their particular recommendations and concerns.

The merits in this form of assessment (the one employed during our role-playing exercise) are the ability to provide context
and direct visual representation and the ability to collectively manipulate and modify that representation in a group setting. The concerns of the various stakeholders are presented in a light which allows them to directly and collectively participate in both framing the problem and (re)solving the problem.

The interface is kept as simple and intuitive as possible while still allowing for the framing and resolution of the problem. Group members may be better able to articulate and assess their own concerns within the larger context of the group's concerns than they would be able to otherwise. This relatively comprehensive articulation would translate hopefully into a better design which would be more useful for the stakeholders and a better resolution for the problem in question.

3. What limits do you see to the technique?

This technique seems to be limited to a particular group size. All the members of a bigger group may not be able to directly participate in the process from start to finish. Furthermore, there may be a host of complex questions and factors and representing these issues may take up more visual screen space then may be available.

4. What aspects of the design do you think could be added, removed, or improved to better support the desired participatory outcomes of the process?

These can be related to the technology, the social setup, the information provided, the process followed, or other aspects that you think are important.

I think there were probably more options available than could be used during the role play exercise. A sample exercise or
test run may be required to get the users comfortable with the interface and the underlying available functionality. Perhaps having handhelds to input the answers to the various questions would be faster and more efficient as more people and more questions to answer takes up more of the visual real estate. The various people could be able to go through their answers together later.

Question regarding the questions:
By designer, do you mean designer of the bus route, designer of the software?

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