Proposing Co-Design of Personas as a Method to Heighten Validity and Engage Users: A Case from Higher Education

Proposing Co-Design of Personas as a Method to Heighten Validity and Engage Users: A Case from Higher Education

Charlotte Albrechtsen (University of Southern Denmark, Department of Marketing and Management, Odense, Denmark), Majbrit Pedersen (Ministry of Environment and Food, Danish AgriFish Agency, Copenhagen, Denmark), Nicholai Friis Pedersen (Combined Youth Education, Denmark) and Tine Wirenfeldt Jensen (University of Southern Denmark, Centre for Teaching and Learning, Odense, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSKD.2016100104
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This paper proposes co-designing personas with users as a strategy to overcome a challenge inherent in the design of personas or fictitious users: On one hand, personas should appear realistic and believable as individuals, and on the other hand, personas should represent a broader range of users. By involving empirical users in all parts of the process of persona design, the risk of creating personas that are too stereotypical is minimized, as the participating users enrich the data on which the personas are based with up-to-date and firsthand contextual knowledge. Advantages of co-designing personas with users is illustrated by a case from higher education in which personas were co-designed with students as part of a project aiming at designing a smartphone application for Master's thesis students.
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Involving Users In Persona Design: Three Cases

Within Higher Education, persona design has been used for the last ten years, primarily in relation to the development of digital solutions for students: For instance, an academic career management system (Borges, 2012), a learning management system and anti-plagiarism software (Dantin, 2005), and app for second language acquisition (Pemberton et al., 2009) and in relation to mobile learning (Rebaque-Rivas et al., 2010). Persona design has also been used in connection to educational development (Yström et al., 2010) and for developing a website about e-learning for teachers (Gaiser et al., 2006; Panke et al., 2007). However, involving users directly in the persona design process is not often done, neither in a Higher Education context nor elsewhere, and only a few instances have been reported (Cabrero, 2014). In this section, we will present three cases where users have participated in creating personas (one set in Higher Education, two in other contexts).

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