Today we went over the plan from now until the end of the academic year, which is May 10th. BSc2b comprises of two major projects:

  • Phase 2 of the Broads Authority Project, outlined here.
  • Planning the dissertation, which will be written between May and December 2019.

It also comprises of a smaller project which is all about CV-building and professional development, rather like LO6 from BSc2a which I wrote about here, but a bit more detailed.

Broads Authority Project

Today we discussed a few bits about the new phase of this project, including timescales and what needs to be done. Some of the graphics students that we are working with have mentioned to me that they’re a little confused about what they need to be doing because they’re unsure which site we are going to develop our app for. We are working with them next on Friday and in that session we are going to decide on a site to focus on – I suspect it will be Burgh Castle. At the moment they are thinking generally about the three themes and how they relate to the Angles Way and what kind of identity they can form from that.

We started project planning today using Trello. Trello makes it easy to group, assign and view tasks.

We, on the other hand, spent some time doing project planning using Trello. We made a new team on Trello and added everybody to it (the graphics students included) and then we divided the board into four columns:

  • Broads App
  • Angles Way Website
  • Uni
  • Key Documents

The graphics students had requested to see the project briefs that we had received so that they can read about the project to better their understanding of what they need to do and what it is that the Broads Authority would like them to do.

The Broads App column contains the tasks that we need to complete, such as the upcoming presentation to the Broads Authority that myself and the other two BSc students are going to do on March 14th and the testing of the solar-powered Wi-Fi boxes and the visit from the ecology expert. Tasks can be assigned to certain individuals and this makes it easier to categorise the BSc tasks and the graphics tasks. If it comes to it, another column could be added titled ‘Graphics tasks’ and this ‘Broads App’ column could be renamed ‘BSc tasks’. We know the due dates for these tasks so have added them in and once these tasks are completed they can be archived. The Uni column shows the tasks that are timetabled for us at uni and the website column contains some tasks that I think we will need to complete for the website production, going by what is said in the BSc2b brief about it. These tasks aren’t confirmed and we haven’t got any timescales for them yet, so these will be added later.

The Google Chrome ‘Elegantt’ makes a nice Gantt Chart out of the Trello board – it looks much nicer than the ones I’ve made with Microsoft Project in the past and it is updated every time you update your Trello projects. The Gantt Chart gives a nice visual interpretation of the task ahead.

Elegantt provides a nice visual summary of the project and its tasks.

I think I’ll find Trello an easy and enjoyable method of keeping track of the project progress.

What’s next?

On Friday 8th we are working with the graphics students to discuss which site to focus on and see how far they’ve got with the branding. Naomi and I did explain to Chloe and Corrina on Monday 4th March about how for the prototype that we made in February and showed to the Broads Authority that we employed two types of branding – local and global. The global branding set the colours, fonts and shapes and local banding was all about the individual sites. They understood and liked this, so hopefully they are getting on well.

Interchange Day

Interchange Day is on March 12th and 13th and is an opportunity for Year 2 students at NUA to try activities taught on other courses that they normally wouldn’t do on their own. It forms part of the collaborative unit. On March 12th I’m attending an all-day lecture and workshop titled ‘5 Years to your Dream Job: How to Plan for Life After Uni’ which is all about professional development and improving your CV and tips on job-hunting and so on. More later on how this ties into the BSc2b marking scheme. The lecture will also talk about how to develop a ‘5 year plan’, which I’m not a massive fan of the idea of right now – being 21 I think you should be pretty flexible and willing to give things a go in the early stages of your life (it hasn’t worked out so badly for me!), but am looking forward to hearing what is said about CVs and the other bits.

On March 13th myself and Naomi are attending an all-day workshop taught by BA (Hons) Architecture tutors at NUA. We’re learning about domes and how to create them in software and eventually make a life-size model of one! It will be fun and a little different – and entail some problem solving which we definitely come across on our course and rendering which we may come across.

I think it’s great that the university puts on activities like these to allow us to meet new people and broaden our horizons and learn new things. It will be fun and I’m looking forward to it!

Naomi and I will be creating a dome, though likely not as big as the Millennium Dome! Photographed by me, May 5th 2013.

Dissertation

The big scary word. Having friends in Year 3 who have just done theirs, I’ve seen how it can drive some people mad!

The course structure has changed recently and now the dissertation is due in December rather than January.

What is a dissertation?

A dissertation is described as, ‘an extended piece of work that takes the form of a research project.’ (Cottrell, 2014, p.21).

Dissertations feature:

  • Depth: a single topic is studied in great depth – you have to specialise in a narrow area and develop your research methods , theory, methods and relevant issues in the background.
  • A conribution to knowledge: your work needs to existing knowledge around a subject and thus feature:
    • Awareness of the current knowledge base.
    • Awareness of how your work builds on existing research.
    • Evidence of choice and decision-making – you have to show that you have chosen your topic and area to study wisely.
  • Length: dissertations tend to be longer than regular assignments. NUA’s are 5,000 words long.
  • Grade management: the length of the assignment, the amount of research that has to be conducted to complete it and the time given to complete it all determine the number of credits you are awarded for it.
  • A different teaching style: dissertations are independent pieces and so often are not accompanied by taught sessions, instead there may be tutorial sessions where you can dicuss progress with your tutor.

Dissertations should be original work, but it is still seen as being ‘original work’ even if you are just taking another angle on some existing research or verifying thsat some existing research is true. The dissertation should be informed by previous research methods , findings and theory. Relevant and up-to-date sources are good sources to use for dissertations (Cottrell, 2014, p. 22).

Dissertation format

There are also four types of dissertation to choose from now, all 5,000 words long (the 10,000 word options have been deprecated):

  • Extended essay – the classic dissertation with a hypothesis that is discussed, proved or disproved.
  • Industry report – a report about how the industry works, or how a specific part of the industry works, e.g. ‘freelancing in Norfolk’.
  • Technical report – a report that is technical and focuses mainly on your practices and methodologies, e.g. writing a report all about how you coded an app.
  • Editorial report – a 2,000 word article suitable for a journal or other academic publication, supported by a 3,000 body of text that should contain the references and any other arguments – ideal for those wanting to become journalists.

I’ve been starting to consider which I’d like to do. The technical one is probably not for me because I don’t have enough code or anything technical to talk about for 5,000 words – unless I were to go into great depths about usability testing and the methodology of that. The editorial report sounds interesting but I’d need to find a topic to write about and consider what kind of publication it would go in – the split nature of it is also a little confusing and not too appealing to me.

The industry report may be interesting, again it would require something very specific to focus on. I’m not sure what that would be at this point in time as I haven’t considered a topic to write about yet. It could focus on freelancing, on UX design vs software design or maybe how certain things are done in industry – how do UX consultants convince companies that the UX journey is the route to take when redeveloping an app or a service? How do they liase with clients, find clients and involve them in the process?

The extended essay would be the easiest to write about as there just needs to a hypothesis or statement to talk about and research. There also lots of books and help available to help students write dissertations like this.

The format of the dissertation can be considered over the coming weeks. The more immediate thing is coming up with ideas to write about. I’ve got one idea in my head so far, so which is along the lines of ‘do apps like Deliveroo encourage poor treatment of workers’ or ‘overworking people’ or similar. There was a documentary I watched called ‘Killed by my debt’ which documents a young man working for Deliveroo who is earning so little that he cannot afford to even work (he unfortunately accumulates several traffic offence fines whilst working for Deliveroo and is earning so little that he can’t even afford to pay these) and the firm that is using Deliveroo treat him so poorly that eventually he is helpless and commits suicide. When I first saw this it got me wondering if these kind of ‘fast’ delivery services that are all fuelled by apps and technology are potentially mistreating people because the ‘fast’ nature of the app is transferred to the employees of the companies using them which leads to ill mental health. Perhaps monopolisation could be talked about – an independent London Taxi driver has recently lost a court battle against Uber all about monpolisation, particularly to do with Uber’s licences when it comes to operating taxis in London. The cost of Uber’s servcices aside, is the reason they’re preferred because they utilise modern technology at the forefront of the purchasing experience/journey? Perhaps Just Eat and Hungry House could also be explored. These are all modern concepts that have only really emerged in the past 5 years or so and have changed the delivery of services and the lives of those working in them for sure.

Do services that take the ‘instant’ effect from mobile apps put pressure on its employees? A possible dissertation idea, perhaps.

I’ll likely start to develop a more detailed plan and mindmap of ideas soon. Some of those ideas I’ve listed above could work as journals, so the editorial option may actually work. They may not work as well as industry reports or technical reports.

At this stage I’m not particularly concerned or scared about the dissertation – after all, it’s only 2,000 words longer than the user-centred design report that I finished a month ago, but ask me again in September or October and my answer will probably be different!

The 1,000 word dissertation proposal needs to be handed in on May 10th the the rest of BSc2b – this is a proposal that outlines the dissertation topic and provides arguments and justifications for writing about this topic.

Jamie also introduced us to Google Scholar for finding academic reports for our research, Statista for finding out statistics (I’ve used this resource before) and the ASM Digital Library which the university grants us access to. These are usually paid-for services, but we get them for free through university. These will all be useful sources for finding information, as well as NUA Library’s own ‘Discovery’ platform which is designed to help research.

What’s next?

On Thursday 7th March we have a session with Aaron, the games development tutor. Aaron is going to go over writing an academic report with us, with him being a Doctor and having written a Ph.D, he has a lot of experience in this subject area and skills to share with us. Afterwards it’s going to be down to considering dissertation topic ideas and thinking about which type of report to write. I’ll have Jamie’s guidance.

Industry folder

I’ve made several of these. The one I made for Year 1 focused too much on my previous jobs [in education] and experience and not enough on what’s out there in the UX world today. The one I submitted for BSc2a is all about my experiences at Earthware, The User Story and a lot of other smaller-scale freelance jobs and extra-curricular activities that I’ve been involved with over the past year or so. This one needs to be a bit like that, but also include a professional portfolio (my portfolio website, Pendragon Online, needs updating and I am creating a new version of it at the moment) and a CV. I’m attending a workshop on March 12th all about CV-building as part of NUA’s ‘interchange day’, so no doubt that that will help me with this aspect.

I’ve had several industry experiences over the past year and plenty of one-off opportunities, including presenting with Microsoft at BET 2019.

I also need to demonstrate that I’ve looked at internships and working in the industry – whether that’s being employed by a company or by freelancing. My internship and freelance experiences of 2018 are recorded in this post, but as of yet I haven’t got anything planned for 2019 and I’m not particularly keen on trying to freelance again after my previous experience. There is a chance that I will get shadowing opportunities at IBM at some point in 2019, but this is not fully confirmed yet and it was going to be in April but now looks it will be happening over the summer. There may also be opportunities in 2019 with smaller companies, completing wireframes for them which would be good!

The specification also calls for evidence of a competition entry. I haven’t looked yet but I don’t know of any UX or UI design competitions. I’ll have to start researching and see what I can find.

What’s next?

See what kind of opportunities might be available for the summer of 2019 and reflect more on what I did in 2018 and consider the fors and againsts of working in the various companies that I did and reflect on the feedback given at the end of each work experience opportunity to consider what might be the role for me.

Bibliography

BBC. (2018). BBC Three – Killed By My Debt. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p067bmlh [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

Cottrell, Stella (2014) Dissertations and Project Reports: A Step by Step Guide. Palgrave Macmillan

ITV News. (2019). Court to rule on taxi drivers’ challenge to Uber’s London licence. [online] Available at: https://www.itv.com/news/2019-02-26/court-to-rule-on-taxi-drivers-challenge-to-ubers-london-licence/ [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

Harrison, S. (2019). Black cab drivers lose High Court challenge against Uber’s London licence. [online] The Independent. Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/uber-licence-london-appeal-high-court-a8797221.html [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].

Wollaston, S. (2018). Killed By My Debt – a sad true story turned into a compelling family tragedy. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/jul/18/killed-by-my-debt-a-sad-true-story-turned-into-a-compelling-family-tragedy [Accessed 5 Mar. 2019].