AFTRS MEDIA LAB REDESIGN

Redesign of the Australian Film, Television and Radio School Media Lab Initiative

The Client

The Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) is Australia’s national screen & broadcast school. Established to fuel and empower Australian creativity and storytelling, AFTRS is consistently rated as one of the top film Schools in the world.

The AFTRS Media Lab provides accessible media arts resources to Australian primary and secondary teachers and students to help build core creativity and storytelling capabilities that will be required for the jobs of the future. The free online resources are practical, creative and tangible education experiences that can be used across the school curriculum, and from kindergarten through to year 10.

The Project

I completed this project as part of a project-based learning experience via Harness Projects, working as a Junior UX Designer for AFTRS. In this role, I applied user experience design principles on a project brief centred on delivering AFTRS teaching resources to secondary school teachers.

The objective the project is to enhance the user experience of the content provided on AFTRS Media Lab so it can deliver effective engagement through its target audience of teachers and students in primary and secondary school.

Current Website

The current Media Lab website provides resources in 5 areas of Screen and Media Arts to teachers in a downloadable PDF format with videos (which are mentioned throughout the PDF resource) embedded on their website.

The Process

Kick-off meeting with the client

We started the process by doing a kick-off meeting with the client, AFTRS, to gain a full understanding of what the current problem is. Through this meeting, I asked questions such as:

  • Who is the intended target audience?
  • What is the business need driving this program?
  • What are your measures of success for this project, i.e. what is the result you are looking for in enhancing accessibility and engagement?
  • What would be your ideal outcome for the redesign/reboot of the Media Lab platform?

Through talking to the client and asking these types of questions, I was able to gain an understanding of the problem which I used to plan my research and interview questions.

Planning the user research

To plan out my process, I created a research plan outlining the value proposition, research goals, research methodology and questions to ask. This document was then provided to the client to ensure that the research process captures the information required.

Value Proposition

Our redesign of media lab help year 7-10 teachers across Australia who wants access to easily accessible free teaching resources to teach students about screen and media arts by providing time-poor teachers with a “one-stop shop” to pick, choose and build lesson plans to deliver for the whole term or by modules.

User Interviews

At the discovery phase of my project, I conducted user interviews in order to get a better understanding of the target audience and their requirements.

The questions asked revolved around obtaining information on how teachers build lesson plans, what resources are used to build their lesson plans, where and how they obtain these resources, and pain points on finding these resources. Questions were also asked about if (and how) they incorporate screen and media arts, how comfortable they are with teaching media arts and how they engage students.

All of the interviews were conducted over the phone, as many were busy and some of the teachers were located interstate.

I interviewed 5 teachers, 2 of which were assigned to me by AFTRS as it was a difficult target audience to reach, and I was able to find 3 teachers through my personal networks.

The main insights I obtained from the interviews were:
  • Teachers are time-poor – Teachers struggle with finding time to find free, relevant and high-quality resources that require minimal modification to use.
“When it comes to materials and resources, sometimes you’re lucky you can find a whole unit of work online, but it was never enough to get you what you want to present to the kids but it’s enough to get you started. Then you have to modify it with your own imagination.”
 
  • Lack of confidence/technical skills – teachers don’t have time to upskill themselves with media, digital and art skills to be able to then teach it to students.

“I’m happy to say to a student, go and make a podcast, I don’t know how to do it yet but we’ll work it out together. Not many teachers will do this, the fact that they don’t know where to look to find the answer, let alone not having the answer. It’s just far too confronting.”

  • Costs, resources and equipment – With public school a big issue was the cost of resources. When trying to find resources, if it’s not free or accessible without subscription/paying, it cannot be used. In addition, technologies/equipment that are available for use at public schools is limited.
  • Awareness of quality online resources – Many teachers do not know that there are quality resources such as those provided by AFTRS that are available to them to use for free.
  • Ability to customise resources to fit in their lesson plans

Other Research

In addition to interviews, I also did some online research on AFTRS competitors and what other resources are available freely online for teachers.

I used the insights gained from the interviews to create user personas. I initially started with 3 personas but combined the users into 2 distinct personas.

The personas were important to analyse the behaviour and goals of the target audience, their preferences, pain points and demographic data.

I referred to them during the prototyping process to assist with my design.

View the user personas in detail by clicking the above thumbnail.

I started the design process with sketching different options. The sketches I did were based on the insights I gathered during the research process.  These sketches were the starting base for the prototyping stage.

These sketches can be viewed in the detail below.

Due to unavailability of the teachers interviewed, I was only able to do user testing with one teacher.

The user testing was done through Zoom providing the prototype demo link to the teacher via email. I assigned the user with various tasks and got her to use the think out loud approach when performing these tasks. I then asked for feedback after the user finished performing each task.

From this user testing, I was able to gain useful feedback and I updated my prototype accordingly.

The Solution

Using UX Pin as the tool, I created a prototype of the redesigned AFTRS Media Lab.

Based on the insights gathered from the user research I found that teachers were time-poor and they want to be able to have options to customise the resources to use in class.

I created a few iterations of the prototype before getting to the final version to present to the client.

The final prototype took into account all the information gathered throughout the process from client requirements, user research and user testing. The redesign of AFTRS Media Lab allows users to view the teaching resource on the web as well as providing options to download the full resource as a PDF or choosing specific sections and extract these as a PDF.

A demo of the prototype can be accessed here:
AFTRS Media Lab Prototype

AFTRS Resource Page
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Other solutions that were able to be implemented straight away were also provided. These include:

  • Best practice for PDF such as having navigatable bookmarks and links, version control and marking of date when the document was last updated;
  • an ability to use the search function to find keywords within resources would be useful for those teachers who are looking for specific resources;
  • tips under each resource on how teachers can incorporate screen skills (e.g. making a documentary) into non-media subjects;
  • a separate page containing videos and resources for teachers to learn and upskill themselves with media and screen skills to build their confidence to teach it to their students;
  • more visibility of the “Sample Works” page to show teachers examples of work being done by students, interviews of teachers, and videos showing teachers and students implementing AFTRS Media Lab resources in class;
  • provide an online forum for teachers to engage with other teachers, get ideas, ask for help, frequently encountered problems or ideas that work, etc;
  • provide awareness to teachers by engaging with them through social media, e.g. Instagram, Facebook groups; and
  • provide in-service training to teachers on site on media arts and screen skills and use this as a way to promote AFTRS Media Lab.

Learnings

What did I learn from this project?

  • Actively listen to users and stakeholders.
  • Start out by sketching on paper to get my ideas going, rather than trying to jump into creating the prototype.
  • User testing is important to gain feedback on your prototype. 
  • Teachers do more than just teach, there’s a lot of work they do in the background to deliver lessons in their classrooms and create an engaging environment for their students.
  • I enjoyed talking with the users, understanding their requirements and seeing their point of view.

Next Steps

The client loved the solution and looks to implement the design in the near future .