After all the interviews, conversations, and observations that were made in the Hear Phase of the study, we were charged with the task of making sense of what all of it meant. This brings us to the Create phase of the work. The Create phase is all about taking everything that researchers and designers have “Heard” from their users, and using that information to build solutions that will help solve the design problem. In terms of our paper, it helped us form the building blocks of the finished product.
Making sense of data doesn’t just occur at the very end of the Hear phase. Synthesis and analysis is something that happens in several ways throughout the hear stage and afterwards. After every field visit, the research team would verbally review the most compelling or interesting elements of our interactions with the stakeholders by using “storytelling with a purpose”. It was important to be able to use storytelling as a tool to describe how we understood what we saw because it helped inform how we collected data, and helped identify themes to look for in subsequent field visits.
For instance, in our earliest school visits while conducting classroom surveys, we observed very gendered responses to questions about Internet and computer access. This was actually a bit surprising to us since APS in Tier 1 cities like Hyderabad generally exhibit very gender equal enrollment, attendance, and performance among students. However, after our storytelling regroup in those first few sessions, we decided to probe stakeholders in ways that captured more information along gendered experiences of technology. We also incorporated more explicit questions about gendered access to technology in subsequent in-depth interviews and surveys.
We took the independent ideas expressed in each stakeholder’s interviews and fit them on a post-it. Then we grouped the ideas by themes that were similar, related, and interesting. This helped us identify themes across stakeholders that were not so obvious looking at each interview individually. It also helped us prioritize which elements of information were most important to each stakeholder’s perspective. The process of organizing all these pieces of information was daunting, but it helped bring us closer to interesting and important insights to share with our readers.
Lastly, we made diagrams that represented some of the processes and relationships that were important to the APS and ed-tech community. We wanted to use simple diagrams that illustrated how different components work together and influence one another. These diagrams came in at a later stage once we knew what the paper’s main ideas would be. We wanted to choose images that reinforced some primary ideas well and helped communicate the point better.
Making sense of what happens in the field is what paves a pathway for the products and services that can bring new innovations to communities like APS. The act of building those solutions takes place in the Design phase. In our next blog we’ll share how we’d like to see insights from this paper inform other company and entrepreneurs’ design phase.