Review and Evaluation
The following is the review and evaluation of the various components of my DiDA project, as well as an evaluation of the project as a whole.
I chose to plan the project the way I did because of the advice given to the class during earlier lessons. Creating a task list and breaking the tasks down into sub tasks seemed to be the most effective way of realistic time management. Making a Gantt chart seemed like an effective way of monitoring project progress.
I found that planning was more complicated than I had fist thought. Some of the issues I found difficult to deal with were:
- Estimating times for sub tasks, when the size of the publication had not been drafted (e.g. a two page leaflet would take less time than a four page pull out leaflet, but at these early stages I wasn’t in a position to know the exact publication I would create)
- Creating a Gantt chart in Excel was a lot more time consuming than I thought. I had forgotten that I would have to put in dates, school holidays and weekends. Initially I used lots of different colours to represent different tasks, but I soon found this became very complicated and harder to understand, so I started again.
- Too much time in the planning stage led to frustration when I saw my friends already carrying out their survey. This made me think that I was falling behind, but later on I saw that their lack of planning caused them delays.
I was please with my Task list spreadsheet and Gantt charts that I had created:
On the whole the comments were positive. Any criticisms revolved around the plan being too complicated, taking too long or using ugly colours.
As the plan was to suit my project, the colours were chosen to be understandable by me, so I didn’t consider that to be a valid criticism. My plan does look quite complicated, but I think by breaking the work down into sections and creating a Gantt chart I was able to provide realistic time estimates and also track my progress effectively.
As for timing I only took a day longer than I had planned. Though this was a lot longer than some people in my class, it was still not an amount to worry about.
My teacher was also happy with my plan and approved it.
If I was planning this project all over again, I would:
- Search for a Gantt chart template or a program to help create them. I think I spent too long, creating the boxes and dates in Excel.
- Not be as concerned with providing exact time estimates for sub tasks, but instead be quicker in providing rougher estimates.
Overall I think my plan helped me a great deal with this project and it was worthwhile spending this much time on it.
The Internet was my main source of research. I found the BBC website; the NHS website and Wikipedia were all very good at telling me what I needed to know. When I was researching, if I found a site I thought was useful, I would save it to my favorites folder.
I mainly used Google as search engine and I would search using quotation marks. e.g. “Recommended daily exercise”. I found this to be a very effective way of obtaining the information which I wanted.
I also used Ask.com and altavista.com as search engines as I wanted to be sure I wasn’t just accessing the same information. I didn’t actually find these other search engines to be that useful and I found that this mostly wasted my time.
I also used the library to access books on web design and exercise. The library was useful but I found the research took a lot longer. I took a lot longer to copy research from books. Websites were much quicker. I also interviewed our P.E. teacher which was very helpful
I didn’t really get much feedback on my research as it was hard to judge whether I had done this correctly. I talked with a number of people on my course and I had done about the same amount of research as they had.
Later on I found that as I began creating the publications I needed to do further research and go back and visit the sites I had saved.
If I was doing this project again I would break up the research into small segments and do the research at the start of each publication. Rather than trying to do it all in one big amount. I would also use other search engines less as I found these wasted my time. I would also maybe consider using the photocopier to save research from library books, however, I only have a certain number of pages which I’m allowed to photocopy – after that I would have to pay for this service.
On the whole my research was ok, but I could have organized it better and divided it up more effectively. I often had to research the same points twice, which should really have been avoided.
I began my survey after half term. I first looked at the SPB and decided to plan my questions, with my test user. His feedback can be found here.
The basic feedback was good, but my test-user felt that many of my questions were similar and that I didn’t ask about favourite sports. However, I felt that the main focus was to see if the Olympics would change exercise habits, so there wasn’t a need to know about favourite sports, only what the current level of exercise was.
I then created my results spreadsheet. The feedback on this was all positive (see here).
I think my spreadsheet was really good and there wasn’t much that could be improved. When it came to the analysis, the way I had set things out made creating the formulas and graphs really easy. I used the COUNTIF function a lot to obtain figures for my graphs.
The open question I asked about what stopped people from exercising was a pretty poor choice and didn’t get used in analysis. I think it would have been better to give people a number of options to choose from, but then this may have been biased or leading.
I thought my analysis was good on the whole and got positive feedback form my test-users (click here to read).
I thought at first that the pie-charts would be the best way to display my data, but I think there were too many of them. The data became a bit samey and pie charts can be hard to compare. I think if I was doing my survey again, I would have started with a more open question to get people interested, I would have removed the open question about what stopped people from exercising and I would have a greater variety of tables, graphs and pie charts in my analysis, instead of just using lots of pie charts. On the whole though, I think the survey was a success.
I found the database quite tricky. I had assumed it would be like a spreadsheet but many controls were different and difficult to use. I had to ask for some technical assistance on some points, but I did manage to create a database and import the data from the file. I found that adding extra data to the database was easy enough.
I made a mistake when finding the exercise habits of my test users. I thought I could create a form that would give instant feedback and let the users know how much exercise they were burning per week. However, once I started I realised that this was really complicated. My teacher told me how I was basically trying to create a relational database which was not required for DiDA Unit 1. My teacher gave me some good suggestions on how I could adapt what I had done. In the end I created a separate table for the results from the form and then manually looked up the data so I could create a report to send back to them. I think this worked well and was a good compromise to my original plan.
If I was doing this activity again, I would allow more time for database development, I would also see if there was a better way of providing feedback to test-users – perhaps exporting the results into a spreadsheet and creating an interactive interface.
I think my database was ok, but it was not the best of my publications and certainly one of the hardest to get to grips with. I received some feedback on my databases which is available here. It basically confirms what I had thought, but I had spent too much time on this activity and so could not make too many changes.
Originally I had planned to do my letter after my database, but it soon seemed better to do it just after the research. This way I could check who my MP was and get the addresses. Because I had fallen behind with my research, I decided to do most of the letter for homework. The letter didn’t really take too long, and I completed it quite quickly, catching up on time I had lost. As this was for an adult audience, I asked my Dad for feedback. He put his comments in electronically and I made the necessary changes. His comments can be seen on the letter page of this e-portfolio.
On the whole my Dad liked the letter and thought my writing style was quite mature. To avoid bias I checked this over with test users at school. They pretty much agreed it was good letter. If I was doing this differently again, I would maybe consider adding in a watermarked icon or a left hand side page border to make it look more professional, but I think the letter looked good and the mail merge worked well. I was pleased with how quickly this was all achieved as well.
I consider the information Point to be one of the best publications I had produced. I worked hard creating storyboards for all the pages and creating a structure chart for the quiz. Once I had completed the first version I asked for feedback from test users which can be read here.
The main criticisms were that the animations were slow, the slides weren’t clickable, and the quotes were cheesy. There was also a suggestion for adding video and sound. I changed some of the animations to speed them up, but I did not want to make the information point clickable, as it was based around hyperlinks and this would mess up the way that the structure worked. I didn’t think the quotes were cheesy and my teacher thought they were good so I left them in. I also avoided adding in video and sound as these would take up too much file space. I felt the sound file I has included was a relevant addition to this information point, but random videos of sports, though attractive, would just be a distraction.
I was really pleased with my information point. I was the only one in my class, who came up with the idea of an interactive quiz, and though it was tough to implement, I think it worked really well. On showing the final publication to my teacher, he admitted that this was one of the best he had seen. All round I really don’t think there would be a massive amount I would change about this.
I was also pleased with my leaflet. I was working quite hard and also doing lost of homework, but I really enjoyed this task. My web research went well and I was pleased with the images I received. I got some good feedback from my mum as to its quality. She said:
“It’s really impressive. Looks just like a professional leaflet. In fact it’s better than half the stuff that comes through my post”.
The only minor criticism I received from people was about the front page image. Some people didn’t like the shade of yellow I used, but I really liked the way the blue shape surrounded the basketball player so I kept it in. I really enjoyed using a desktop publishing package to create this, and I found I grasped the skills needed to use this very quickly. On the whole I think that PowerPoint and Desktop Publishing were the two types of software I excelled at.
There was little negative feedback about my leaflet, so few changes apart from proofing and spelling were needed. The feedback on my leaflet can be read here.
There was a lot of praise for my tear-off form, and I think this is something I would do again if I had the chance.
Overview of Project
I think my project went really well. My teacher was very impressed with my plan, my information point, my leaflet and my e-portfolio. I think I challenged myself and even when things went slightly wrong (like the database) it was only because I was trying to do more complicated things than I had been taught. Given enough time and resources, I think I would have been able to create a relational database which would have been really effective at doing what I wanted it to do.
My only main criticism was my timing was a little off. Sometimes, I had to rush to get things finished or even complete homework, but I think it shows how worthwhile it was to spend lots of time on a complex Gantt chart as this helped me to see when I was falling behind and needed to change strategy or do more work.
I also think having review points at the end of each major task was a really good idea and that this kept me in good stead throughout the project.
Overall, I think I have produced some great publications and have created a useful and worthwhile resource. Aside from learning from my time estimates, I don’t think I would have done much differently. There is always room for improvement and extra testing and feedback, but given the time and resources that were available to me, I think I did the best that I possible could.