Workers in advanced manufacturing looking to upskill don't have remote learning opportunities on the latest smart manufacturing machines. RMIT recognised that textbooks and online courses could not provide enough hands-on interaction. To bridge this gap and enhance RMIT's product offering, our team was tasked to explore AR technology and produce an app that could also integrate seamlessly within online learning journeys.
The discovery phase was a high‐intensity effort that involved analysing the competitor landscape and understanding user needs around digital learning. In particular, I focused on the behaviours and pain‐points related to AR technology on mobile devices. In my field studies and through contextual inquiry, it became apparent that there was a mental model mismatch.
I conducted contextual inquiry, facilitated co-design sessions, used desktop research and guerilla user testing. This approach was necessary to fully understand the problem space, the various spectrum of use cases, mental models related to this technology and for inclusive design.
User testing participants
Many users struggled to use and initiate the AR experience. Task rate completion (TRC) tests showed a fail rate of 70%.
On mobile devices, users did not expect to have to stand and scan the environment with their device camera in order to activate the machine model. Instead, like most held devices, users expected to be stationary as if it were exploring an interactive game.
It quickly became clear that we had assumed too much of people's digital literacy. To move beyond assumptions I created a spectrums and situations map to highlight the range of temporary or permanent challenges we needed to consider. Working with this inclusive framework enabled me to quickly prioritise the product features.
The biggest challenge I faced throughout this project was to propel the ideation and design across multiple teams, one team handling the learning design and our team, responsible for the AR development. Since the project involved many stakeholders, I needed to coordinate and get buy‐in from many competing interests. One of the unifying activities I facilitated was a design sprint which provided much-needed momentum and concepts for testing.
Once I had a new prototype, I held guerrilla user testing with 15 students and 5 educators. Participants were asked to find the CNC course and to activate the experience. The testing was coupled with open-ended questions around user satisfaction and suggestions for improvement. The new flow resonated well and confirmed that designing for people's spatial context and providing scaffolded learning improved the user experience.
XR LearnHub launched in November 2019. The release coincided with a series of AR and VR workshops for business and educational audiences. Since its release, XR LearnHub has helped RMIT's Centre for Digital Enterprise lead the way in enhanced learning experiences by being the first of its kind AR app dedicated to TAFE and workplace training.