Linked to both the themes of participation through and collaboration for Learning Technology, this short presentation will detail the experiences and share the insights of a project team who have been developing OpenCreate, a new authoring tool in partnership with over 200 academic and specialist colleagues that focuses on collaboration and the digital design of distance-learning materials. It will outline the implications of OpenCreate for internal staff (both academic authors and non-academic specialist staff), as well as for students, in relation to the impact on the learning materials they will consequently receive.
Throughout the session, we will share our experiences of how the project has challenged the traditional authoring process and production methods of learning materials, whilst simultaneously highlighting issues of the digital literacy of staff and students, and how working with internal partners we are addressing these challenges.
We will outline the initial research undertaken and how ongoing user feedback and iterative development is enabling us to create a product that is needs-focused, as opposed to function-led, and what this means for the module teams that we are working with. We will also cover our approach to learning design and how we are incorporating this into OpenCreate.
Some of the key questions / areas we will cover include:
• The importance of collaboration and working in partnership to develop OpenCreate, and what this means in practice
• The impact of digital literacy on module production teams’ ability to work in an Agile manner, including the challenges of accessible software design
• How an Agile development methodology and Human Centred Design approach has helped us to rapidly adapt and respond to user needs
• What module teams adopting a digital approach to learning material production will mean to students studying those modules
• The importance of designing for collaboration and scale, and why these are central to the success of OpenCreate in initiating change
• How UX Design has been central to the project and why it matters not just to students, but staff as well
We will wrap up the session with a summary of our experiences and what questions these have raised for us going forward, and how these questions have wider implications than the project when applied to the sector as a whole. We will also outline briefly the areas we will be working on in the coming year and how these are indicative of wider Higher Education trends.
Participants in the session will gain valuable insight into the challenges faced by the project team, which can be applied to many related sectors. The issues of digital literacy and fostering collaboration are commonplace and by sharing our unique experience we believe conference participants will be able to apply the lessons we have learned to their own situations. We also hope to provoke discussion of the key issues identified and within the Q&A element, following the presentation, we would be looking to proactively engage participants in debate around these points.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The session will be based upon a project, OpenCreate, that we are currently working on within the University.
This project is currently being evaluated in a number of ways, as follows:
• Through the pilot scheme we are currently undertaking in partnership with numerous academic authors / module production teams, who are critically evaluating the tool on an ongoing basis, feeding into the design and functionality of the tool
• Through a series of user feedback sessions with both pilot and non-pilot users
• In partnership with specialist colleagues from across the University, who evaluate areas such as accessibility, amongst other core technical aspects of the development
• Through research with over 600 of our students into their needs for the latter phases of the development
Whilst the outcomes of the majority of the evaluations are not sharable, the outcome of the student research is and will be disseminated as part of the session, which participants are welcome to share more widely after the conference.
Cornford, J, Pollock, N (2003) Putting the University Online: Information, technology, and organisational change. Buckingham: Open University Press. Available at: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_lookup?hl=en&publication_year=2003&issue=2&author=J+Cornford&author=N+Pollock&title=Putting+the+University+Online%3A+Information%2C+technology%2C+and+organisational+change& [Accessed 25/3/2018]
De Meester, B, et al. (2014) A digital-first authoring environment for enriched e-books using EPUB 3. Information Services & Use, vol. 34, no. 3-4, pp. 259-268.
Digital and information literacy framework (2012) The Open University [Online]. Available at http://www.open.ac.uk/libraryservices/subsites/dilframework/. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0) [Accessed 25/3/2018]
Resources for participants
To be made available nearer the time when the student research is publicly available.
Andrew McDermott posted an update in the session Collaborative authoring: Why developing an academic-focused, digital-by-design tool matters to both 2 years ago
Hi everyone – here is a link to the Learning Behaviours (student research) mentioned in the session description:
If you’d like to know more, my colleagues Alice and Liz are running a session on this on Tuesday at 11.30am in Room 2.20:
If you can’t see the link (as the site seems to be playing up with finding the link, the address is (minus the spaces in the https):
h t t p s ://altc.alt.ac.uk/2018/sessions/oh-behave-behaviour-led-development-of-learning-technologies-18-131/