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December 21, 2011

Document and image collaborative annotation with iversity

Follow-up to iAnnotate for iPad, annotate PDFs, mark essays on screen from Inspires Learning - Robert O'Toole

iversity is an open-access VLE/VRE in which anyone can assemble a course or a conference (interesting to see the parallels between an academic course and a conference). It is explicitly aimed at higher education. The "stripped-down" nature of the feature-set and the interface is significant. After all, what is really needed for successful academic collaboration? You get a calendar, the ability to upload files and discuss them, and a report on all user actions related to the course.

It's all actually very clear and simple. Which is what most people want most of the time - with the addition of one more sophisticated feature, perhaps the only area of complex interaction that academic work needs (outside of subject specific technologies such as lab equipment): what iversity call 'social reading'. Annotating texts and images with comments.

I'm not claiming that this is a perfect solution. It is browser based. It is very much an old-fashioned web site plus collaboration. Increasingly (thanks to Kindle, iTunes, iAnnotate etc) we expect to be building our own personal collections of owned/curated objects. That's a very different design pattern, user experience and ideology. When I work on an academic aretfact I want to have my own copy of it. That comes first (whether in the classroom or online). I then want to be able to annotate and extend my copy. In some circumstances I want to share those annotations and extensions, or incorporate the ideas of others in my own copy. But at the end of the day I want my own artfact to own containing my own work.

Here's a video demonstrating their implementation:

October 21, 2011

Marketing and Participatory Design Thinking Practical

Follow-up to Marketing and Participatory Design Thinking from Inspires Learning - Robert O'Toole

Following on from my lecture...

In just 45 minutes, we responded to this creative brief...


With small teams each creating mind maps of their proposed campaigns, and presenting them to the rest of the class (with the maps displayed through the projectors). The maps were created using the Mindjet app on iPads (connected to the screen with a VGA connector). Mindjet is available for free from the Apple App Store for iPhone and for iPad. The Mindjet Mindmanager Windows and Apple desktop software is available for free to all Warwick students and staff.

Some very good initial campaign ideas were presented. It was suggested that they would form the starting point for a participatory design process, bringing in customers/stakeholders to test and develop the ideas further.

Click on each image to see it full size.

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The materials that were created for the real Warwick Blogs publicity campaign can be viewed here.

Marketing and Participatory Design Thinking

I taught a session this week as part of the MA in Global Media and Communication (Cultural Policy Studies). It started with a 1 hour long lecture and discussion, followed by a practical session (see the results here).

Here are the slides and videos from the lecture. The mind maps, and links to the software, will be uploaded in a separate entry. Click on the thumbnails to see the full size slide...

ant_marketing002.jpg Companies, governments etc are prepared to spend staggering amounts of money on advertising.
ant_marketing003.jpg Asking this question leads to a better understanding of the complex social and cultural dynamics of business and the media.
ant_marketing004.jpg We could naively accept a simplistic view of advertising: consumer has specific well understood need, producer has the product, consumer buys product, need satisfied.
Intel has global domination of the desktop and laptop processor market. But they still need to create amazing adds like this.

ant_marketing006.jpg Asking the question leads to some interesting insights about business, society and culture. There are many motivations, explicit and implicit, behind spending on advertising.
ant_marketing007.jpg Advertising might play a significant part in the internal strategic work being done in the comany. It might have a significant internal focus, for example trying to stimulate motivation and allegiance amongst the work force. There are many possible reasons.
ant_marketing008.jpg A recent trend has been the move from a product-oriented business model to a service-oriented model, in which consumers become participants in the cultural and industrial production, co-creating brands, designs, markets etc. Marketing campaigns need to help to build this co-operation and participation.

The DHL That's Logistics campaign makes people feel part of the logistics operation. Perhaps this will result in greater client-service cooperation, contributing to avoiding problemsor resolving them faster?

ant_marketing010.jpg This is the name for a range of approaches that aim to bring product development, design, support and marketing into a single well-integrated whole, with active participation from all stake holders. The IDEO design partnership are key drivers behind this.
ant_marketing011.jpg IDEO members have published and spoken about their methods. See the work of Tim Brown on Design Thinking, and David Kelley on Prototying in the Shorthand of Design.
ant_marketing012.jpg At Warwick we have used these approaches to design new services and courses. For example, a design workshop brought together students, managers and teachers to create and test lo-fi prototypes for possible distance learning courses. We started with creating fictional but realistic potential students.
ant_marketing013.jpg We then considered how they should have changed having undertaken the course.

We built a prototype timeline of resources and events, to show how the course might achieve these changes, and to ensure that the vision of the teachers and the admin practicalities could work towards these ends. We then filmed a walk through of the timeline, narrated by the students. This could then be shown to other potential students, teacher, funders and managers, for a next iteration of prototype and test. Thinking about marketing was an essential part of this process from the earliest stage.

ant_marketing015.jpg Understanding and engaging with real people is ob absolute importance. Don't just build products, services and adverts, build communities.
ant_marketing016.jpg Bruno Latour's actor-network-theory approach offers a powerful approach to understanding how real people build real communities, how they get things done with their network, how they theorise about them, and how technology plays a central role.
ant_marketing017.jpg Finally, the creative brief for the practical session.