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Brock LaMeres - HW#8 "Role Play"

Questions from your perspective as a role-play participant:

1. What were your impressions of your role-play experience?

It was interesting to see how a diverse cross-section of people would interact. My first impression was that it was unrealistic to have that complete of cross-sectional coverage. In reality, the inputs would be skewed. I think a major goal of the technology with respect to collaboration would be to make it easier for more people to contribute. So the technology would first bring more people to the table (perhaps through the web), and second assist in the design of the system. It appears the goal of our experiment was to focus on a more successful design.

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

It seems that experts in the field will always win during the design phase in this type of environment. An elderly person may have valid concerns but a more eloquent speaker with a strong background in his area may be able to dominate over the elderly person.

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?

Yes, even though we had a small group, it was still a struggle to address everyone’s opinions in such a short amount of time. You could tell that we were about at the maximum number of people that could participate in the hour that we had. This is similar to what you would have at a “town meeting”. There is a finite amount of time so not everybody will have an opportunity to express his or her opinions.

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?

More background on the topic. In a real situation, the people would have lived in the Gun Barrel and would have been more familiar with the area and problems that the bus route currently has. We were all approaching the problem hypothetically and may have missed some major details.

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

It aided in the fact that it visually showed the current bus route and also tabulated information for us like the participants profiles. It impeded the process a little due to people not knowing how to use the UI and getting stuck in particular menus.

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?

Yes, the more input from the end-users, the better the solution will be.

2. What insights do you think that might be gleaned from using this technique that other techniques might miss?

The ability to tabulate the users profiles is important. This technique can continually keep the profiles in mind while decisions are made. In reality, people will forget each others situation once the problem solving begins.

3. What limits do you see to the technique?

The number of users at the table will reach an upper bound.

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 having people enter their profiles and concerns from a web based program would be more efficient. The people at the table will be the planners experts that can use the amassed information and make better informed decisions.

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