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OB3 media-rich documents with embedded discussions: lifting learning performance and engagement through interaction design

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Outline: OB3 media-rich documents with embedded discussions are a development in educational practice that enables academic staff to prepare curriculum content and enhance student engagement in asynchronous discussions. This advancement in feature development lies in two innovations in interaction design. The first innovative feature enables students and academic staff to author media-rich documents with basic technological skills (i.e. using MS Word, browsing the Internet, and communicating via email). The second one facilitates the process of embedding discussions inside curriculum content. These innovations have lifted learning performance in three ways. Firstly; they remove the need of a technologist (e.g. course builder, multimedia consultant) in the preparation of media-rich documents. Secondly; students engage in asynchronous discussions with lecturers inside an OB3 document. Thirdly; students engage in authoring curriculum topics or reflective practice as part of assignments. Project findings describe how these innovations have impacted educational practice, and a user case in a postgraduate programme in ophthalmic basic science is used to illustrate. The educational practices enabled by the creation, discussion, and sharing of OB3 documents can be qualified as innovative pedagogical practices according to the Creative Classroom Framework, and have enabled trends and addressed challenges identified by the NMC Horizon Reports. The implications of using OB3 for lifting performance and enhancing student engagement are the emergence of innovative pedagogical practices, the transformation of lecturers into partners of learning, and students into co-designers of learning.
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Gloria Gomez and Con Petsoglou. REFERENCED PAPER:
OB3 media-rich documents with embedded discussions:
lifting learning performance and engagement through
interaction design.
Outline
OB3 media-rich documents with embedded discussions are a development in
educational practice that enables academic staff to prepare curriculum content and
enhance student engagement in asynchronous discussions. This advancement in
feature development lies in two innovations in interaction design. The first
innovative feature enables students and academic staff to author media-rich
documents with basic technological skills (i.e. using MS Word, browsing the
Internet, and communicating via email). The second one facilitates the process of
embedding discussions inside curriculum content.
These innovations have lifted learning performance in three ways. Firstly; they
remove the need of a technologist (e.g. course builder, multimedia consultant) in
the preparation of media-rich documents. Secondly; students engage in
asynchronous discussions with lecturers inside an OB3 document. Thirdly;
students engage in authoring curriculum topics or reflective practice as part of
assignments.
Project findings describe how these innovations have impacted educational
practice, and a user case in a postgraduate programme in ophthalmic basic
science is used to illustrate. The educational practices enabled by the creation,
discussion, and sharing of OB3 documents can be qualified as innovative
pedagogical practices according to the Creative Classroom Framework, and have
enabled trends and addressed challenges identified by the NMC Horizon Reports.
The implications of using OB3 for lifting performance and enhancing student
engagement are the emergence of innovative pedagogical practices, the
transformation of lecturers into partners of learning, and students into co-designers
of learning.
Introduction
Educational technology for higher education has undergone great changes in
product development in the last 12 years, due to emergence of customisable
technologies enabling people to become creators of social media content.
Because of this trend, higher education started to experience a shift from students
as consumers to students as creators of technology (Siemens & Conole, 2011).
This shift had two implications. Firstly, students were transformed into active
participants of their own learning, which was first described as the personal web
(Johnson, Levine, & Smith, 2009) and today as personalised learning (Adams
Becker, Cummins, Davis, & Yuhnke, 2016; S. Bocconi, P. G. Kampylis, & Y. Punie,
2012b). In some learning ecosystems and depending on the educational
technology put in place, this transformation can develop students as co-designers
of learning and academic staff
into partners, mentors or facilitators of learni
ng.
FLANZ2021 DAY 1: Wednesday 14 April 2021
36
Secondly, educators have been increasingly challenged to re-think their role due to
the abundance of Internet resources (Johnson, Adams, & Cummins, 2011).
These changes above outlined have created an opportunity for the emergence
of diverse innovative approaches and practices associated with collaborative
learning. Some of these approaches are networked learning (Goodyear, Banks,
Hodgson, & McConnell, 2004; Goodyear & Steeples, 1998), networked learning
technologies (Kyza, 2013), complexity, connectivism, and rhizomatic learning
(Blaschke & Hase, 2019). This paper reports on the research and development of
a technology specifically designed to enhance online academic study through
student active participation, collaboration, and reflection. An interaction design
perspective leads decisions in feature development, which is informed by changes
in our users behavior and concepts drawn from design and educational fields.
The problem being addressed
OB3 is a web-based application that enables the creation, sharing, and
collaboration of media-rich documents with embedded discussions. This
educational technology was developed as a response to two needs identified
through working with our users. The needs were helping academic staff to
undertake timely updates of study content to keep students engaged with
curriculum content, and enhancing student participation in discussion forums.
Between 2004 and 2011 and based on demand from initial users, a cross-
platform desktop application was developed to support distributing encrypted
course materials via DVD. In 2007 we noticed that this format of course delivery
was no longer performing for three reasons. Firstly, lecture notes were not updated
as often as needed for logistical reasons, therefore students considered many of
the lecture notes to be out of date, and in turn resorted to studying with alternative
Internet resources. Secondly, discussion forums were used only for sharing
information for exam preparation. Lecturers and students were not coming
together to have a lively asynchronous discussion of study materials. Thirdly, the
process of making a DVD was time-consuming and becoming difficult to meet
semester start deadlines. Lecture notes prepared in Word were converted into
webpages that included links to journal articles, videos and PowerPoint
presentations.
In 2008 the early planning of the new OB version 3 (hence OB3) began,
drawing on feedback from users, and from a one-day seminar event the company
ran at a client New Zealand university. Through these initial activities, three
interconnected needs were identified: OB3 needed to be web-based, with features
allowing content to be authored and managed by our users without mediation of a
technologist (e.g. software developer or multimedia consultant), and supporting
embedding discussions anywhere within a lecture document (Gloria Gomez &
Tamblyn, 2012a, 2012b).
The benefits of this next generation technology could help academic staff to
undertake timely updates of study content to keep students engaged with
curriculum content, and to enhance student participation in discussions. A decade
ago, the expectation was that OB3 would enhance the online study learning
experience of postgraduate medical education. Today, the expectation is to
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37
develop an online study platform that can serve individual and group of users in
their active and lifelong educational practices.
Figure 1. OB3 media-rich documents with embedded discussions (zoom in f or details) or also review (G . Gomez,
Daellenbach, Kensington, Davies, & Petsoglou, 2017)
Study Approach: Interaction design with Bridging Design Prototypes
This web-based technology, OB3, emerged from a project focused in research
and development (R&D) to support activities in online academic study that relate to
reviewing curriculum materials in varied formats or written assignments. This
project was underpinned by a social interaction design methodology that is defined
as “… the study and exploration of how people relate to other people through the
mediating influence of products...” (Buchanan, 2001; 2005, p. 5). To guide our
studies and explorations of the problem above described, a research claim was
developed parting from the interaction design definition “How lecturers and admin
staff relate to students through the mediating influence of an educational
technology for enhancing the online study learning experience”
The studies and explorations in interaction design were undertaken using the
Bridging Design Prototype method (Gloria Gomez, 2009; Gloria Gomez et al.,
2020), which facilitates the process of undertaking research of novel educational
products in natural settings using rapid functional prototypes. User communities
accept to incorporate these prototypes in their natural settings while the R&D team
uses them to learn about the context, the community, and the practices. Back in
2009 the user community were students and lecturers (all medical professionals)
and their support staff. Today, the user community has grown to include a
FLANZ2021 DAY 1: Wednesday 14 April 2021
38
staff and students from other fields such as Business, Information Technology,
Midwifery, Nursing, and Sustainable Practice. Now and then, our users are
distributed globally, and often have basic levels of technological skills, and little or
no time to learn new skills.
Based on reviews of documented activities, observations, and conversations
with users about their issues studying online, guidelines and requirements were
put together to inform feature conceptualization and design. Data analysis drew
theoretical concepts from various sources including: 1) educational design that
supports the efficient use of study skills that contribute to academic success
(Bandura, 1986); 2) good visual design that facilitates learning, is cognitively
effective, and helps us manage our work and thought (Kirsh, 2005); and 3)
networked learning in which information and communication technology (ICT) is
used to promote connections between people (Goodyear et al., 2004). Two
decisions in interaction design radically changed the way our users study online
and lifted their performance, which have been reported in more detail elsewhere
(Gloria Gomez & Tamblyn, 2012a).
First change in interaction design: a unique interface for authoring content
with familiar skills
Early research outcomes showed that the development of a unique interface
for students and staff could enhance participation in content authoring by de-
emphasising administration and emphasising support for study features. For
example; reporting on marking research, Heinrich and colleagues suggested that
administrative tasks should be targeted first by technologies for elearning, “to free
up time that can be better invested in educationally more beneficial ways for the
engagement with student work and the provision of high quality feedback…”
(2009, p. 478). While Mehlhorn and colleagues, after comparing two technologies
for enhancing online classes, concluded that an elearning technology could be
quickly adopted if this is “…easy to operate for the faculty member… [t]he learning
curve … is minimum, and most can be taught how to use [it]” (2006, p. 5).
Since our users organised study around the development and review of
curriculum materials or written assignments, the new features scaffold the
authoring of media-rich documents with familiar technological skills that capitalise
on knowing how to use MS Word, the Internet, and email. Furthermore, this kind of
authoring features support the efficient use of university study skills, in particular,
the strategies of elaboration, organisation, and rehearsal, which contribute to
academic performance, according to Bandura (1986). The performance of these
strategies in online learning can be enhanced through good visual design and
metacognition. Kirsh (2005) says, the use of good pedagogy in the design of
online learning environments might be able to trigger or improve metacognition -
an adaptive learning behavior “… the manner of displaying cues, prompts,
indicators[, hints, and reminders to students] has an effect on how and when
students notice them, good designers need to present those cues in cognitively
effective fashion. They need to shape the affordance landscape” (p. 10). If
materials are displayed tastefully and appropriate visual cues are used to
differentiate headings, subheadings, quotes, body text, videos and images, online
study might become more effective and motivating. Figure 1 shows the process of
authoring content. Within minutes students and staff can: author, share, discuss,
and annotate media
-
rich documents b
y typing, copying or inserting text; audio
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recording; uploading files, photos or videos; pasting content from desktop and
websites; and, creating documents, folders or courses. The app in turn produces
beautiful, highly readable, scalable, structured media-rich documents. Another
design requirement was to automate interactions irrelevant to study, but important
to technology performance. To improve work efficiency, activities were automated
such as document saving, transcoding media style formatting, recognition and
creation of hyperlinks to websites and table of contents creation.Second change in
interaction design: embedding discussions inside lecture documents
Embedded discussions can be started in any element of an OB3 media-rich
document that is a heading, a paragraph, a quote, an image, a video, an audio-
recording, atable or oEmbed (e.g. Twitter or Facebook feed). Contributions to
discussions can be also made in the form of text, images, videos or audio-
recordings (figure 1). This design change is informed by early work in network
learning. According to Goodyear and colleagues (2004, p. 1), networked learning
is learning in which information and communication technology (ICT) is used to
promote connections: between one learner, another learner and tutors; between a
learning community and their learning resources. In an earlier study (i.e. SHARP
EU project), this concept informed the development of a technology for creating
“shareable representations of practice” for sharing knowledge during professional
development.
Build technology around real user needs rather than an idealised managers
view of what is needed… [This philosophical approach] should suit most areas
of higher/future education… We need to understand how the members of a
distributed community of practice engage in [online learning], and how their
existing technologies shapes and limits what they do, so that we can
understand how to improve the technology at their disposal… (Goodyear &
Steeples, 1998, pp. 18-19)
At the time of starting the conceptualization of OB3, the background
philosophy and methodologies of the SHARP project (i.e user-centred design,
participatory design, and activity theory) showed a way forward for our work. We
wanted to undertake a social interaction design study to inform the development of
features for authoring activities that could transform teachers and students from
consumers to creators of technology.
Findings
The interaction design changes lifted performance and student engagement in
three ways. Firstly, lecturers and administrative staff could develop curriculum
content by themselves without the need of a technologist, and with the same skills
they have already mastered for writing in MS Word, browsing the Internet, or
communicating via email. A technologist, learning or educational designer is not
required to support the development of a study document. Their support is now
sought at a different level. Daellenbach et al. (2014, p. 572) reported that “The
interface was crisp, clear and unfettered and it felt intuitive and user friendly.”
Secondly, student groups, students and lecturers, or academic staff could
incorporate meaningful and collaborative study activities in their online academic
programmes. They could engage in asynchronous discussions inside an OB3
document, as part of assignments lecturing or curriculum content. Thirdly, students
engage in co-creating or co-designing curriculum topics or reflective practice as
FLANZ2021 DAY 1: Wednesday 14 April 2021
40
part of individual or group assignments. Co-creation of study content could be
done in collaboration with lecturers, or as part of student group work. Figure 2
presents the types of OB3 documents with embedded discussions that all OB3
users are able to create, share, and discuss. The Sydney-Otago case illustrates
one way in which lecturers/teachers have had the opportunities to re-think their
role in online study activities.
Figure 2. Concept map on the type of innovative pedagogical practices that OB3 users can develop
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41
User case: Otago-Sydney postgraduate programme in Ophthalmic Basic
Science
This course has been delivered across two Universities in Australia and New
Zealand for the last 15 years. It has allowed for the incorporation of new
innovations within the same educational platform to meet the changing
requirements of students and lecturers (first with [OB2] DVD-based courseware,
then OB3 from 2011). The platform supports a blended learning model well with
students being engaged within each unit of study. OB3 was chosen due to several
important advantages over other educational technologies:
Straightforward intuitive design allowing ease of use by lecturers and staff
often not familiar with technology, and students when using shared
documents and asynchronous learning
Collaborative development model to shape the platform to support
innovation in teaching
Allowed for international faculties to coordinate teaching on the same
platform rather than trying to use the individual differing university software.
Allowed for a single educational platform for content delivery and foster
interactions between students themselves and students and with the
academic staff.
Integration with institutional LMS to simplify student login and reduce course
administration
Figure 3 illustrates the kind of study documents that lecturers and students can
author, share and discuss using OB3. The educational practices include lecturer or
tutor-led activities in the creation for lecture documents. The lecture notes are
shared with students for review. Developed with lecturer guidance, student-led
assignments take the form of wiki page assignments and discussions around
journal article summaries.
Figure 3. A concept map on how OB3 documents wit h embedded discussions are used in an Ophthalmic Basic
Science postgraduate medical programme
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42
Discussion and conclusion
The innovations in interaction design relying on the implementation of a unique
interface for authoring content and the possibility of embedding discussions within
a document promoted changes in the behavior of students and academics. Two
frameworks (table 1) are used to qualify the significance and the practical effects of
including OB3 as part of the learning ecosystem of the Otago-Sydney programme.
Table 1 provides an overview.
Table 2. Qualifying benefits/practices with the Creative Classroom and Technology Adoption
Frameworks
INNOVATIVE PEDAGOGICAL PRACTICES EMERGING WHILE USING OB3 OB3’S ADOPTION HAS
ENABLED TREND OR
ADDRESSED
CHALLENGE REPORTED
IN:
*NMC Report Global
2017
#NMC Report Europe
2014
^NMC Australia
2016
&NMC New Zealand
2011-2016
DIMENSION AND RELEVANT
BUILDING BLOCKS I N THE
CCR FRAMEWORK
USER CASE: OTAGO-SYDNEY
POSTGRADUATE PROGRAMME IN
OPHTHALMIC BASIC SCIENCE
DIMENSION CONTENT AND
CURRICULA:
Meaningful
activities
Lecture documents with embedded
discussions
Coordinated group projects to
undertake student-derived learning
activities
WICKED CHALLENGE:
*&Rethinking the roles of
educators
LONGER-TERM TREND
(5+ years): *Deeper
learning approaches
DIMENSION ASSESSMENT:
Engaging assessment
formats
Formative assessment
Student-led online lecture development
with multimedia content
Exemplar marking tasks provide
flipped classroom dynamic
Clinically relevant assignments
providing deeper learning objectives
Administrative and monitoring
software to allow lecturers to oversee
and modulate student interactions in
real time
LONGER-TERM TREND
(5+ years):
#Rise of data-driven
learning and assessment
DIMENSION LEARNING
PRACTICES:
Self-regulated learning
Personalised learning
Peer to peer
collaboration
Projects:
Wiki-style co-written documents
Journal clubs
Student-led online lecture
development with multimedia
content
SHORT-TERM TREND:
*&Collaborative learning
WICKED CHALLENGE:
#Students as co-
designers of learning
DIFFICULT CHALLENGE:
^Personalised learning
DIMENSION TEACHING
PRACTICES:
Soft skills
Graded content and assessment tasks
allow for gradual upskilling of students
over a 2-year course
SOLVABLE CHALLENGE:
Improving digital literacy
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43
Multiple learning styles
Multiples modes of
thinking
Asynchronous discussion within
lectures encouraging online
interactions WICKED CHALLENGE:
# Complex thinking and
communication
DIMENSION
CONNECTEDNESS:
Networking with
real world
Learning events
Communication with students as to
timetable
Provision of live lectures within
programme
Ability to monitor discussions and
interactions easily with inbuilt
notifications in learning ecosystem
MID-TERM TREND:
*^ Growing focus on
measuring learning
LONGER-TERM TREND
(5+ years):
# Rise of data-driven
learning and assessment
DIMENSION
INFRASTRUCTURE:
ICT infrastructure
Distance teaching with content always
available
Learning ecosystem incorporates
demonstration videos, OB3 documents
and learning apps within the platform
across both distance and face-to-face
units of study
SHORT-TERM TREND:
*^ Blended learning
designs
The Creative Classroom Framework (CCR) (S. Bocconi, P. Kampylis, G., & Y.
Punie, 2012a; Bocconi et al., 2012b) is composed of eight encompassing and
interconnected key dimensions which capture the essential nature of innovative
learning ecosystems (see 2012a, pp. 8-10). OB3 enabled this programme to
address 6 out 8 CCR key dimensions through the implementation of 12 building
blocks or pedagogical practices. Therefore, it has been able to “…fully embed the
potential of ICT to innovate and modernise learning and teaching practices”
(2012b, p. 20). See table 1, left column, and text in red).
The second framework is comprised by the NMC Horizon Reports Global and
Europe (Adams Becker et al., 2017; Johnson et al., 2014), and the NMC
Technology Outlooks of Australia and New Zealand (Adams Becker et al., 2016;
Johnson et al., 2011). This report collection helps in understanding how the
adoption of OB3 meets trends and challenges in technology adoption. OB3 has
enabled our users to meet five trends and address four challenges. See table 1,
right column, and text in purple.
The collaborative assignments with student-derived content (figure 3) are not
only meaningful activities enriching content and curricula, but also learning
practices promoting self-regulated and personalised learning, as well as teacher-
student, and peer-to-peer collaboration. The collaborative processes involve
lecturers and tutors sharing the development of study content with student groups
via engaging assessment formats/projects benefiting individual students, alumni,
and enriching the curriculum.
Student performance and engagement can be lifted when educational
technology is purposely designed for transforming students into co-designers of
learning and rethinking the roles of educators. Johnson and colleagues (2014)
report on the implications of studying with such technologies. Firstly, students
become curious and more engaged when given the tools and responsibility to
design their own learning environments. Secondly, approaching students as
FLANZ2021 DAY 1: Wednesday 14 April 2021
44
partners in learning design makes complex subjects more approachable, and
present a pathway to more student-centred learning.
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Poster
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ABSTRACT: This poster presents OB3 - a web application for online study that makes the life of busy lecturers, students, and administrative staff easier. People who know how to use basic features of Microsoft Word, the Internet, and email can efficiently manage and author these processes with OB3: • Gathering information of complex medical concepts, found in different places such as discussion forums, PDF and scanned documents, websites, videos, PowerPoints, Podcasts, Flash movies, etc.; • Editing and integrating information gathered into media-rich documents; • Publishing integrated documents online as course materials or essay assignments; for • Sharing and discussing them within a distributed learning network. Literature reviews on relevant topics (e.g. elearning and networked learning, distributed cognition, visual design, knowledge representation) were performed to understand the study context of the user community. The Bridging Design Prototype method informs product development. OB3 features are being implemented over progressive series of betas covering: authoring workflow, multimodal discussions and personal annotations, content management and study summary documentation. By multimodal we mean using audio and/or video recordings plus text to insert comments. The authoring workflow and discussion features have gone live in a postgraduate medical programme in March 2012. In the first two weeks, more than 100 messages were created as part of discussions taking place within a number of OB3 documents. Discussions mainly focused on topics such as co-writing of study documents for exam and study preparation, identification of missing content from lecture notes, and distribution of tasks among a study group. A few discussions on technical issues occurred and we noted that students and lecturers helped each other by providing explanations for example on inserting images or creating a link within comments. Our technical team only took care of a low number of issues. The data collected so far on user interaction show that online study applications built on familiarity may speed up adoption and create more meaningful interactions.
Chapter
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Metacognition is associated with planning, monitoring, evaluating and repairing performance Designers of elearning systems can improve the quality of their environments by explicitly structuring the visual and interactive display of learning contexts to facilitate metacognition. Typically page layout, navigational appearance, visual and interactivity design are not viewed as major factors in metacognition. This is because metacognition tends to be interpreted as a process in the head, rather than an interactive one. It is argued here , that cognition and metacognition are part of a continuum and that both are highly interactive. The tenets of this view are explained by reviewing some of the core assumptions of the situated and distribute approach to cognition and then further elaborated by exploring the notions of active vision, visual complexity, affordance landscape and cue structure. The way visual cues are structured and the way interaction is designed can make an important difference in the ease and effectiveness of cognition and metacognition. Documents that make effective use of markers such as headings, callouts, italics can improve students' ability to comprehend documents and 'plan' the way they review and process content. Interaction can be designed to improve 'the proximal zone of planning' – the look ahead and apprehension of what is nearby in activity space that facilitates decisions. This final concept is elaborated in a discussion of how e-newspapers combine effective visual and interactive design to enhance user control over their reading experience .
Article
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This paper looks at how to innovate teaching and learning practices at system level. It describes the vision for ‘Creative Classrooms’ and makes a consolidated proposal for their implementation, clarifying their holistic and systemic nature, their intended learning outcomes, and their pedagogical, technological, and organisational dimensions for innovation. ‘Creative Classrooms’ (CCR) are conceptualized as innovative learning environments that fully embed the potential of ICT to innovate learning and teaching practices in formal, non-formal and informal settings. The proposed multi-dimensional concept for CCR consists of eight encompassing and interconnected key dimensions and a set of 28 reference parameters (‘building blocks’).A preliminary analysis of two existing cases of ICT-enabled innovation for learning is presented in order to show (i) how the proposed key dimensions and reference parameters are implemented in real-life settings to configure profoundly diverse types of CCR and (ii) to depict the systemic approach needed for the sustainable implementation and progressive up-scaling of Creative Classrooms across Europe.
Article
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'Creative Classrooms' (CCR) are conceptualised as innovative learning environments that fully embed the potential of ICT to innovate learning and teaching practices. This report proposes a multi-dimensional concept for CCR intended to depict the systemic approach that is needed for the sustainable implementation of innovative and open learning environments using ICT across Europe. The aim is to provide educational policy makers, stakeholders and practitioners with a thorough understanding of ICT-enabled innovation for learning, focusing on key elements that need to be addressed in order to innovate and modernise Education and Training (E&T) in Europe.
Chapter
The bridging design prototype (BDP) approach aims to strengthen the activity of design in new product development undertaken by small enterprises. Design is the weak link in the fuzzy front-end process of new product development in small and medium-sized enterprises. Often, these enterprises cannot afford to bring a human-centred design perspective early into the research and development (R&D) process of innovative services or products. During the fuzzy front-end, the BDP approach provides a rapid and organised way to research and sort design opportunities into those that deserve more effort and those that should be deferred. Four cases, drawn from master’s student reports on projects undertaken in collaboration with a start-up or a small and medium-sized enterprise, illustrate how BDPs can be effectively used in an early product development process. In particular, they report on how BDPs were used to: 1) capture the voice of the customer and influence the development of customer requirements; and, 2) obtain customer inputs and help designers develop concepts of product that don’t exist. These product designers, who at the time were studying to become product managers and entrepreneurs, experienced first-hand how users interpret and incorporate BDPs into their real activities. Access at http://bit.ly/case13bdp
Chapter
Skills to collaborate and reflect in and on action are considered central to the development of digital literacies required for the twenty-first century. Networked technologies afford the design of learning environments that support these skills both synchronously and asynchronously. This chapter begins by defining the constructs of networked technologies, computer-supported collaboration, and reflection. Two exemplars of networked technologies, namely, the STOCHASMOS web-based learning and teaching platform and wikis, are discussed to illustrate the potential of networked technologies to support collaboration and reflection. The chapter concludes with a discussion of next steps.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
This article reports on selected aspects of a larger study on the use of electronic tools in the context of the management and marking of assignments. The study comprised a literature review, interviews and a review of e‐tools. The article briefly summarises the findings from the literature on what comprises quality in assignment marking. The focus then shifts towards the analysis of the interviews on e‐tool use for assignments that were conducted with 90 lecturers across five higher education institutions in New Zealand, selected purposively for engagement in this area. The article shows how these lecturers are using e‐tools to support the management and marking of assignments. Special emphasis is given on grounding the e‐tool use in educational theories on assignment marking. An important issue with high quality assignment marking is the time required. The article shows how e‐tools are used to increase efficiency, with the time freed‐up being invested into quality improvements, again supported by e‐tools.