I suspect that the hands-on nature of apps might be a good match the type of learning experience that prospective TAFE students are likely to be seeking. By presenting an eclectic mix of photos, video and text for users to explore, it can respond to the different tastes and instincts of a diverse target audience.
The application was conceived and designed by Digital Eskimo and built by Propaganda Panda. It is a second iteration of an application they created for a the institution's history exhibition called iTIME. The project brief for ShortComms was to help compile and structure a lot more content to reflect the current offering of today's TAFE, using the engaging "wheel" architecture devised by the creative team.
To do this, I sought out user reviews, developed a content plan and curated content from the extensive photo and video resource library already developed by Sydney Institute.
How do people discover Sydney TAFE?
To understand potential users, we informally took “iTIME” to current students, watched them use it and asked questions about their expectations from a TAFE app. Even in this small sample group; some either predominately chose text buttons while others seemed drawn to faces and pictures to tap, who could then 'speak' to them about the subject. This observation was consistent with the theory of different learning styles (Fleming 2001) - which suggested people can lean towards visual, listening or touch and experience to learn.
800 courses to 300 buttons
Following user feedback, the action of spinning the wheel was adjusted so it ‘lights up’ groups of related buttons, following the course guide structure. This is how it looks:
Fresh new photo shoots and video production on campus provided lots of material. Belle – a young woman doing a mechanic’s apprenticeship and Hassan who is studying remedial massage to transition out of a rugby career are just two of the students showcased. Other content used promotional and historical photos, testimonial, stories and campus information. Our big challenge was not finding content, it was what to leave out! The final app contains 305 individual item.
The proof of the pudding
For example, imagine a prospective student who already has a dream to be a fashion designer. From there, he may go looking for a suitable course and campus to study at. That could mean visiting the location, reading a printed course guide, or searching the internet.
A different prospective student, however, may be using an ipad at home or at school - where you can explore with less direction - swiping and tapping images that appeal to them. She could spot a dynamic photo of a student’s dress design modelled on a catwalk in Sydney Town Hall. If it captures her imagination it opens a world of possibility dropping this user straight into an example of what it is like to study in a hands-on environment, work in this creative field, plus the links and basic course info to get there.
All the creativity and glamour, along with the trades, science and other training already exists at Sydney TAFE, behind the sandstone walls. Hopefully, as touchscreen technology becomes more ubiquitous the app puts those images and experiences right under your fingertips.