Blog 12

Added my rubric and reflections on it in Pathbrite.

This week I did much more work on understanding Communities of Practice by reading Wenger Trayner’s site.

I also put up my first prototype at the garden. Here’s a sketch; the prototype at the garden, and the explanation inside. There is a notebook and some pens in the box. I wanted to use materials I already had so I found tupperware and a bungee cord to hang the box to the fence. Will check on it later this week to see if it was successful. Also need to think about getting feedback from gardeners who may have noticed it.


Upcoming: need to reflect on art installations I’ve visited and begin the annotated bibliography.


Blog 11

For my project plan I used Trello but I’d like to put a plug in for Asana. I wanted to use Asana because the interface looked cleaner and I could view my project plan in calendar form or by lists! Unfortunately, it looks like you cannot make your project fully public. It’s geared more towards teams, so I’d have to send out email links to everyone I’d want to share with. Decided that wouldn’t be great for this project so I’m sticking with Trello for now.

What is “done”? For this project, “done” will be a flexible term; rather than concentrating on presenting a neatly boxed, completed learning experience I will concentrate on the process of creating and designing. I will turn in my different prototypes, along with my reflections, feedback, and research on each. The reason I’ve decided to go this route is because I often become stuck in the designing process and never put something into the world. Concentrating on the creating and experimenting will allow me to get feedback (maybe) and change direction if it is not working. My main prototype is creating a physical space at the garden where people can interact, even if they are not there at the same time. I’ll try different variations of this, and probably add/subtract elements to see what happens.

I’d like to create rapid prototypes more often; maybe 2-3 per week, even if I do not necessarily make them. This is just to get me in the practice of creating more often. I may also focus more on my last prototype (creating stations at garden work days) by getting more detailed about how the experience should go. I plan to end the project by the end of May, mostly because I’ll be leaving my community garden because I’ll be moving to a nearby town. I won’t be able to maintain the garden or visit but maybe eventually I can start again when I’m settled at my new spot.


Blog 10: Low Res Prototype 2

I decided to go with creating a face to face experience for my 2nd prototype. This one occurred much more naturally and I had no trouble figuring out how the learning experience would be organized.

Learners would be able to visit different stations situated throughout the garden which would have timely (monthly) topics. Each station would have expert(s) who would lead the learners through games or demonstrations of the topics. Below I brainstormed some prospective, timely, monthly topics. These demonstrations/hands on activities would take place during garden work days. Stations are mostly based around the idea engage, explore, explain, and apply. Lastly, instead of creating the app around the experience, I plan to use an existing photo based app (Instagram) to create community. If gardeners have questions or later want to share observations, they can post on Instagram with a specific tag. I think a journal/whiteboard/bulletin board or a tiny library might be good physical additions to have at the garden. Have not quite figured out what that could be yet. I still need to look up examples of participatory art. See here for zoomable photos.

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3



low-res-prototype2_3rd image

Blog 9: comparable products

Comparable product 1: 

Leafsnap is an app that identifies tree species when a user snaps a picture and submits it. It’s an electronic field guide specific to the northeast and growing to include other parts of the country.

I like the game section of the app. The user chooses the correct plant species based on four picture choices. You have one minute to do as many as possible. The more one plays the game the more one is able to get better at identification (not memorization) by looking at the visual cues. Another game has the user categorize floating leaves into species in one minute.

I also like the categorization; the user can search for specific trees by common or scientific name.

It does not seem as there are ways to interact with other members; as it is solely for identification. It would be nice to connect users with each other.

I could incorporate the in-time usefulness. The user can upload a picture anytime; can take a picture and receive a response quickly. It also uses experts to source the content.

Comparable product 2:

Figure 1 is an app for healthcare providers. Medical professionals post cases and receive feedback from other professionals on what they might be missing (the paging feature) or what they could have done/

The organization of this app is top-notch. Cases are searchable/viewable by anatomy or specialty. Users have the option of ‘paging’ and expert in real time. The content is visual so the user receives a lot of information up front and can click the photo to read further or ask questions/post feedback. The ones who can participate are experts or learners; possibly patients. There is a really strong community of practice; users are engaged.

This is a really good app so it’s hard to find fault with it, however, I noticed that sometimes the categorization (generated by users) is incorrect. That may have to do with the amount of time a post has been up and how many people have seen it/categorized it. Maybe it would be helpful to only have the medical professionals able to tag. I wonder if there would be a way to connect patients to each other as well for crowd-sourcing.

I think the organization/categorization could be useful in many other subjects, including gardening. What subjects/categories would be the most useful for gardeners. How would one ‘page’ and expert. Maybe there are ways to make this a ‘blended’ format so that users are connected both on and offline.


Blog 8: prototyping

How might I connect local gardeners for in time help?

The project ideas my group and I came up with were:

  1. local bulletin board at grocery stores/garden centers
  2. social around specific planting times (tomatoes in May, etc.)
  3. partner with local farmers market (stand/meet up)
  4. create an app-gardening sos
  5. create an app specific to zone (badges, up-voting)
  6. create a directory of gardeners in area; digital yellow pages
  7. partner with mater gardener certification places (CCAE?)
  8. grant to get “Take a Master Gardener” out for local food dinner or do a larger potluck
  9. partner experienced gardeners with beginners at community garden (apprenticeship/mentorship)
  10. digital illustrations of plants (clickable infographic)
  11. tinder like app/ swipe R or L-do you like my garden or is this garden making use of space, etc.

I decided to prototype the app idea, but found it more useful to create a prototype of a webpage before beginning the app prototype. I jotted down a few notes as I drew it out:

  • when you click into website, prompts you to input zipcode, tells you your zone # (state based, focusing only on MA for now)
  • if you sign up as a user, remembers your zone # to connect you with other users
  • people are given color badges, based on expertise. Everyone starts with beginner expertise but can get other, higher badges based on answering questions correctly (based on upvoting, probably) or submitting documentation (master gardener certification, haven’t quite worked this out yet)
  • can check out different zones by clicking on dif parts of MA map






I found I had to fight the urge to look at other websites/apps as examples when I was working and tried to take into consideration whether the “How might we?” question was being addressed. I found myself getting caught up in thinking “can I?” as in , “can I achieve this? What would I need to get this done? Should I even add it?” I tried to silence that part of the brain and not worry too much about the how just yet. I also found that I kept wondering whether what I was doing had already been done.

Blog 7: Need/Insight

I have a learner persona; her name is Ana.

Needs/Insight Statements


beginner and master gardeners

Needs to

1) connect with community to share 

2) have very local resources

3) observe & document plant progress

4) grow food for dinner


1& 2) they need to ask questions/share insights that are locally based

3)they want to reference it year after year (when did I plant that last year? was it doing as well? Why or why not?)

5)  they need to save $ on groceries and/or it tastes better to them

I found that my younger interviewees enjoyed sharing their plans, documentation on social media but my older interviewees wanted nothing to do with it. I got the sense that they felt it tainted the experience. In a way, I understand that. Some interviewees brought up how relaxing gardening is, as a way to connect with nature and feel disconnected from work/life troubles, even though or maybe because it is hard work. The idea of trial and error came up often, mostly because although gardeners might troubleshoot that didn’t always mean that a particular method would work for them, especially if they were not sure of where the method took place. After learning more about my interviewees, I wondered how mentorship might fit in.




Blog 6: Empathy Map and Learner Personas

33140016082_9827c7f10c_oMy interviewees ranged in age from 30 something to 60 something. I didn’t differentiate between them in the empathy map; their personas are at the bottom of the post.









Needs & Insights

Photo on 3-6-17 at 8.11 PM

Learner 1: Rebecca is in her mid-30s and works as an operations manager at a coffee shop. She lives with 2 roommates and doesn’t have outside space to garden, but does do windowsill plants, like micro-greens (to eat) and succulents every year. She was gifted a Venus Flytrap and did lots of research on how to care for it; there was so much information that she ended up following it all and the plant died.  She tends to garden by a trial and error method. She tends to look up gardening information on blogs and via youtube. She thinks that many gardening forums don’t have the information in an easy to find space; she compares it to recipe blogs which hide the recipe at the bottom of a page. She prefers visual information; if it interests her she keeps looking, if not she moves on. When she had a bigger space with a yard; there was a garden there but it became unruly and time-consuming so she hacked it down.

Learner 2: Ben is in his late 30s. He grew up helping his dad take care of their backyard garden, was more of a chore. He worked as a landscaper for a while and learned more about gardening then. Likes to share stories about gardening, particularly if people are interested. Also enjoys the social aspect of it. He looks up or problem solves information by searching garden forums online. He tends to read through it all and tries to determine whether the posters live in the same climate and whether many people give similar suggestions/tips on how to approach something. Thinks the information is likely to be more accurate if more people are in agreement. He finds gardening forums when he can’t tell if someone lives in the same type of climate that he does, as that will have a big effect on whether he should follow a particular method. Some issues that come up is that he doesn’t know how much space to leave for plants to grow; also often does trial and error after researching for methods. Mentions that one of his goals is to have a meal completely made up with food from his garden and also likes that growing his own food is environmentally conscious.

Learner 3: Genie is in her 50s and works in marketing. She grew up helping her mother take care of her garden in upstate NY. She didn’t always want to do it; but one night they went out to plant seedlings and she saw a meteor fall not too far away. She went to school for environmental education and ended up learning a lot about botany. She is on the board of Trees for Watertown.Has lived in many different types of climates and learned to garden in them.  No longer goes to others with questions, as she finds she knows more. She is basically a SME. She does like a gardening catalog called Fedco, which she says has ton of information in the writing, and is a bit tongue in cheek. She says what would be helpful is to have a good library, as the resources already exist. Likes to share her knowledge and her process for figuring out issues (like how she chose a particular tree to try to propagate in Watertown). She says that gardening is a ‘hands in dirt, person to person thing’ and describes learning about it as “It’s just reading and habitual observation”. 

Learner 4: Milena is in her 40s or 50s and learned to garden as a kid in eastern europe. Her great-grandfather had a farm and she’s always loved it. She used to kick off her shoes and walk in the dirt; some of her best childhood memories come from that time. She learned through observation and helped parents. If she has a gardening problem, she goes online to identify what it is. For example, she took pictures of a gross bug on her asparagus and figured out it was ladybug larva by searching online. Ladybugs are garden friends. She also goes to the Hillside Garden Center and speaks to experts there if she needs help. She’s noticed that gardening catalogs are not very useful but university websites with agricultural programs areYoutube is more useful because she can see it and tends to go for the ones that are most watched. Shares experiences about her garden but not on social media. Noticed some of the beginner gardeners can make mistakes like not knowing how big their plants will get (shadow other plants); don’t weed very often (spreads) and create shaded areas (groundhogs will hide). 

Best part of gardening to her is the homegrown vegetable tastes much better than anything from a store! It’s also a way to relax, stretch and get Vitamin D.

Learner 5: Larissa is in her late 30s, has a toddler. She tried having a community garden in her college coop, but it failed because she didn’t know that the soil needed to be enriched. She tried asking around from friends, but no one knew what the problem was.When she lived in Boston with two balconies she did lots of container gardening; kept a blog about it (to document and share) and was very into it. She references the book Bountiful Containers and You Grow Girl. She enjoyed the community forums of You Grow Girl. Since moving to Texas she hasn’t found a good resource and finds the same methods don’t work in her new climate. She is also busier so she does not keep up with it as much. She knows a lot about container gardening but wouldn’t consider herself an expert in backyard gardening. She has interest in someday becoming a Master Gardener. She teaches her daughter about gardening, but more about the connection to how that is where food comes from and in an effort to get her to eat vegetables.

Possible ideas:

  • create a walking/reflective/observation exercise for people to do when they are out gardening
  • create a digital info graphic; ex. digital image of plant, can click on different parts of the plant to learn more about it
  • create a poster infographic that would be pretty enough to get people to hang (maybe even frame) and put on their wall (could be a series on different plants orbasics for beginners)..expanding on that create an infographic poster to post around town (although this is a very learning passive learning experience and easily ignored)

QFocus pics:

Blog 5: Observing/interviewing potential learners

I began a draft of my questions for my potential gardener interviewees. I plan to mark each question as close or open ended; categorize them, and par them down to 20 essential questions and 30 total ones. I think this will put me at about the 45 to 60 minute mark if all goes well. I plan to start out by interviewing gardener friends and then hope to interview a few acquaintances at my local community garden. Interviewing my friends first will hopefully give me some quick feedback on whether there are some questions I should drop.  My questions center around how people began gardening, what they knew when they started, and how they gained information about it, how they trouble-shoot gardening issues, how they share that information with other gardeners.

I also wonder whether I should develop questions that are geared towards people who want to garden/have very little experience in it but plan to/want to garden in the future. Right now my questions are all geared towards people who have some experience in gardening. Do I want to also target users who might be reluctant to try gardening if they think they don’t have a green thumb?

I’ve been at the community garden for 3 years so I can write down observations from memory as well in order to create my empathy map.

Needs: information about planting/growing that is locally-focused (i.e. does this plant grow in this particular climate, with this type of soil, etc.); critter identification and prevention (what is eating my plant, how do I get rid of it? How do I keep the squirrels, groundhogs out of my garden plot?); plants that grow well near each other; plants that shouldn’t be planted near each other; fast, easy plant identification; fast, easy plant disease identification and how to trouble-shoot

Many, if not all gardening websites answer the questions above but I find their websites to be information dense and text heavy, which is difficult to look through while I’m at the garden. That’s where I often need the information. Looking through different apps, it looks as though there are many that focus on only one thing at a time, like plant identification or plant disease, etc. Would a community based app be better or worse? Would users want to use it so they can share information or would there be too many competing views or incorrect information flying around? I do think that more experienced gardeners like to share their knowledge with others, maybe that would be a reason to use it. What would be the benefit of using this app over one of the many that exist already?

I’m curious what my interviewees will bring up!

I’ve also been working on my QFocus which has been much more difficult than I thought it would be. At the moment, the best that I’ve come up with are:

  • Sharing knowledge enhances practice.
  • A community of practice has the ability to link generations.
  • A community of practice elevates knowledge.
  • A community of practices shares knowledge.
  • Crowdsourcing is a part of community of practice.
  • A community is not bound by technology.

I have more work to do to get the wording right. I do think that my project is moving towards a product that is based on a community of practice that is linked via technology.


ramblings about design ideas

Below are some of the ideas I’ve been thinking about (in no particular order)

  1. creating a lesson on reflection/metacognition
  2. create a lesson on using multimedia/technology
  3. creating easily transferable reflective practices to use across programs
  4. redesigning the online layout of a current module for a online program
  5. best practices for colleagues
  6. gardening project: work with my community gardeners to promote educational outreach (organic gardening guidelines, “growing” gardeners, crowdsourcing common gardening issues–critters, plant disease) grow community of practice

The last idea was sparked by looking at Figure 1 and thinking about an email from my local community garden about ‘growing’ gardeners. Would I even need the local community garden board’s blessing or is it something that enough gardening nerds would take interest in? I could see how it could be a local resource for gardeners who want to crowdsource problems with their plants, look for organic gardening resources. There are many plant blogs out there, but I haven’t really found one that speaks directly to this area.


Blog 4: Personal Learning Network-Revised

I began revising my PLN by revisiting my twitter feed and taking a look at who I was following. In my trusty notebook, I made two columns, “Who to Drop” and “Who I started to Follow”. Those I was unsure about whether to drop or keep following were placed in the middle. I realized that I had a lot of work to do to find sources that were relevant to me and particularly, since I haven’t settled on a topic, sources that could be relevant across all project ideas. Design/Organization and Thinking were still at the top of my list, as I can see how they are relevant across all disciplines. After class I added/renamed topics,  including Narrative Storytelling, Academic (rather than learning and teaching), Personal (work contacts), Joy (sounded more fun than generally inspirational), and hanging off the learning cliff is Divergent, as it doesn’t really make sense to have it as just one category.

My list is here.


I need to work a bit more on narrative storytelling, personal, and SME in organic gardening (yes! I added another project idea) After receiving feedback in class, I looked further into Figure 1, narrative medicine, and am making my way through the other suggestions. I found that I really liked Figure 1 even though it totally grossed me out sometimes and I had to throw my phone down because I was so traumatized by the pictures that came up. I began  thinking of ways I could use it for a completely different topic (like community gardening). Could we crowdsource plant disease or critter identification? How much of a need is there for that? IMG_1600.JPG

I use the Notes tab on my iPhone for remembering sources, collecting things I’m thinking about or want to look up later, and adding tasks that I want to do. Because of that, I decided to start with EverNote to collect resources. I like that the add-on extension allows me to take screenshots, add bookmarks, and clip articles. It doesn’t look as though I can drag links to Evernote; that would be a nice functionality to have. It would also be nice to be able to upload photos from my Evernote account directly to my blog. Figuring out where to store/save photos and how to get to them from different apps or devices  is probably the biggest pain I have. Admittedly, maybe other people have figured out how to do this but I’m always having problems with it!