Paul Lowe and Chris Follows will be leading an Interactive scenario based collaborative design workshop based around the NAM project at the Designs on E Learning conference in Helsinki from Sept 26-30. The conference is innovative in that there will be a 3 week pre conference period where participants are invited to debate and discuss online in advance of the actual event itself. We are asking for participants to join us to work on the usability and design of the site as detailed in our conference proposal below:
Interactive scenario based collaborative design workshop led by Paul Lowe and Chris Follows of the University of the Arts London
Conference Topic Theme : All of them
Authors : Paul Lowe, Chris Follows
Keywords: collaboration, reuse, open, resources, practice, OER, open educational resources, scenario based design, design, Scenario Based User Needs Analysis, SUNA, user led, user needs analysis, archives, open educational resources, Living Labs
This session will provide an opportunity to collaborate and contribute as part of a ‘Living Lab’ to the development and design of the AFTERNAM project, an online interactive archive and research tool focusing on the media representation of the war in Vietnam. Participants in the session will be invited to act as potential users of the resource, and to engage in a scenario based user centric design process to explore innovative ways in which the resource might be deployed in teaching and learning. Given the nature of the participation, this will give insights into working collaboratively in a virtual environment on a design process for a real world application. The pre conference online activities will include an exploration of the project design and interface so far, and an opportunity for participants to act as potential users in a Scenario Based User Needs Analysis (SUNA). The actual workshop itself at the conference will give an opportunity for the participants to reflect on how suitable this kind of user centered open innovation approach is to developing 21st century learning technologies.
The Afternam Project
‘Afternam’ brings together the photographic archives of Phillip Jones Griffiths, the film archive of Stanley Kubrick, and the journalistic archive of Phillip Knightley in an interactive multimedia resource that looks at the resonances of the conflict in Vietnam today, and draws connections between different areas of practice around the issues of the ethics of war reporting and the media’s role in covering and representing conflicts. This is an innovative resource for teaching and learning that combines an archive of the material with an experimental research area that integrates images, audio, video and multimedia pieces in a researcher led creative ‘mash up’ of these resources.
The research methodology for the project has adapted the collaborative research project approach already developed by the MA in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (LCC) which involves using postgraduate students as co-researchers on the project directed by the project team. The individual research artefacts have all been produced by the postgraduate student cohort themselves and include a dynamic timeline and location map, as well as multimedia pieces and video interviews,
The project utilises a flexible Drupal based web interface that has been designed in conjunction with the student cohort and other potential users and stakeholders by using a ‘Living Labs’ approach to collaborative design. We have used the JISC UIDM to structure the work of the project along with elements of the Socio Cognitive Engineering Model. The Scenario Based User Needs Analysis (SUNA) approach this entails has been particularly useful in working with potential users to test our understanding of their needs, brining an ethnographic perspective to understanding user behaviour and socio-technical system design and development. An agile approach has been used to create rapid prototypes to get user feedback and check on the feasibility of the technical goals we have set in order to inform development The design and functionality of the site has therefore been driven by this user needs analysis using an agile approach to programming and development rather than by a preconceived idea of the project team. This concept will be used as the basis of the conference workshop and the extended discussion before and after the actual meeting in Helsinki, and participants will have the opportunity to actively contribute to the development of the project in real time.
Developing a ‘Living Lab’ as an open innovation model with the student cohort
The Afternam project takes from the very beginning an approach that positions the end user at the heart of the process, making them central to determining the design and functionality of the site. Sharples et al argue that educational design should ‘aim to define human-centred systems that are based a sound understanding of how people think, learn, perceive, work and interact’ (2002, p2) and that
usability is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the design of good human-centred technology. Technology should also be useful, elegant and desirable (people should want to use it, rather than being compelled to do so as a condition of their learning or work). (2002, p2)
To achieve this aim, rather than the project team deciding on the feature set of the archive, the potential users are instead involved in exploring what kinds of activities they would envisage engaging in using the site. This approach has similarities to the open innovation model of business development in that it is user centric rather than developer centric. Leminen and Westerlund note that open innovation approaches by necessity are unpredictable but equally creative, arguing that
As opposed to the traditional models, the development work in the open innovation model is based on the needs and co-creation activities of the users and user communities, and the end result of the development work is often unforeseeable. Thus, it is obvious that traditional project management models, where fundamental assumptions of the management are based on a clear measurable goal of a project fail to apply in the open innovation model. (2009, p4)
One approach to dealing with this unpredictability that has proven successful is that of the ‘Living Lab’, The Living Lab concept originates from Prof William Mitchell of the MediaLab at MIT, Boston, as a user-centric research method for real life environments to identify and build prototypes, and to evaluate multiple solutions. Schumacher and Feurstein identify them as a ‘research methodology for sensing, validating and refining complex solutions in multiple and evolving real life contexts’ (2007, p1), whilst Schaffers and Kulkki describe them as
experimentation and validation environments characterized by early involvement of user communities, closely working together with developers and other stake- holders, and driving rapid cycles of ICT- based innovations. Living labs thus can be considered as user-centric environments providing a concrete setting for open collaborative innovation.
The Living Lab concept is characterized by the “users as innovators” approach. This means that “the basic idea is not about using the users as ‘guinea pigs’ for experiments, it’s about getting access to their ideas and knowledge” (Eriksson et al. 2006). This becomes a creative dialogue between the project team and the potential users of the resource, the shape of which is determined by the process of engagement itself. As Leminen and Westerlund explain
The living lab project targets to an undefined objective with the exception of loose guidelines or directions to initiate the collaboration. Thus, the final objective is merely based on interaction and co-creation processes with firms, customers and end users, as well other possible actors. It is essential to understand that there may emerge also several different results or targets, which may not be seen at the beginning of the development project. (2009, p5)
Scenario Based User Needs Analysis (SUNA)
SUNA is an approach to developing e learning resources based on an engagement with the user as central to the process. According to the team at the University of Essex who developed the concept, it is ‘not an exact science nor is it prescriptive’ but it ‘provides a series of structured activities that help designers and other stakeholders come to a common and shared understanding of what they are developing, and to provide some tools and techniques to support design decisions and record design rationale. (2000, p1). A SUNA is based on 4 steps, and is usually run as a series of workshops with intervening interaction, typical with small groups of users. This format builds a ‘Needs Hierarchy’ that can inform the development process,
1. Scoping and writing of key scenarios
2. Scenario Validation
3. Eliciting the needs
4. Use-Case Description and Story Boards
This brings a very useful ethnographic perspective to understanding user behaviour and socio-technical system design and development, while also providing a useful structure for detailed planning and user analysis. An agile approach is being used to create rapid prototypes to get user feedback and check on the feasibility of the technical goals we have set in order to inform development.
For the DeL conference we plan to run a SUNA workshop based on the AFTERNAM project in the lead up to the conference and then evaluate the process and its usefulness at the conference itself.
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Fowler, C.J.H, van Helvert, J; Gardner, M.G, and Scott, J.R. (2007) The use of scenarios in designing and delivering learning systems. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe, Rethinking Pedagogy in a Digital Age: Designing and delivering e-learning.London: Routledge.
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Leminen, S and Westerlund , M (2009) From innovation networks to open innovation communities: Co-creating value with customers and users 25th IMP Conference, September 3-5, 2009
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