Wednesday, April 28, 2004

The education design and development process - Part 2

Moments in the Process

I've mentioned moments a couple of times in my last post. Kemmis and McTaggart (1988) talk about moments in their work on Action Research (see The Action Research Planner and The Action Research Reader)

I feel comfortable with the use of the term 'moment', as it does not hang on to any particular part, stage, phase or any other pre-determined element of a process and is not necessarily constricted to a certain time or space, or even a topic!

A 'moment' allows some space to breath, to experience, to 'be', and to not do anything really at all! A 'moment' can be described along a continuum (although somewhat primitive and perhaps more appealing to the pragmatist in all of us!):

At one end sits the "flash" - that moment that almost slips by unnoticed and is very hard to put into one's conscious mind, let alone into words.
At the other end sits the "momentus moment" - that moment which is, well, huge! - all engaging, life changing, steeped in meaning and cannot be missed!

There is also reflective moments, challenging moments, tense moments, moments that slip by, "just a moment" and so the list goes on... but if you take these moments and set them within the design and development processes, it almost allows you to capture those often intangible 'moments' that tend to move fluidly back and forth through the processes developing and maturing.

Scott Berkun talks about design being a reflective process, in which he too mentions 'moments':

    Some moments require an emphasis on the logical and rational. Others demand creative exploration and expression driven work.
    May 20, 2002

Capturing Moments - more than Serendipity

How can we capture the more intangible elements of the design and development process to then use to inform better practice and clarify expectations and outcomes? One approach I hope to take is to write case by case stories of the developments I work on and capture firstly my thoughts, insights and questions, then the views of those others who might collaborate on the development, most especially the academics for whom we support in such developments. There are many examples of case studies, written to reflect on processes, extend conversations and record a series of moments for future reference.

I feel case stories are much more than a reflective journal or a professional diary, and offer a more consolidated view into some of the intricacies of the development as told from one or more viewpoints. On that note, I'll leave you with a great piece from Seth Kahan, who interviewed John Seely Brown about the nuances of storytelling.

The education design and development process

Just last week I presented a poster with others involved in a university-wide project aimed to accelerate the development of units across most faculties, to provide a 'showcase' of exemplar units using online technologies.

It was an interesting activity and although a small-ish turnout, got many people talking especially about experiences of processes.

With every development a different approach was taken but within a similar process. The developments are dependent on many factors mostly consisting of;
- level of skills of those involved
- roles of those involved
- motivation of those involved
- rationale or agenda of those involved.

As you can see it's all about the people! Without people there is no process! I was keen to not just talk about or display in my poster what was developed, but attempt to highlight the intangible developments of the collegial relationship between myself as education designer and the academic, and the collaboration with multimedia artists and developers to bring a 'product' together. In using the word product, there were 2, a CD-Rom and a webCT site, at the one level, and mutliple intangible products at another level - things like negotiating a "common dialogue" between education designer and academic to vocalise each other's understanding of moments occurring in the development over three months. Gradually, a "shared meaning" resulted from active and reflective conversations between the two.

This relationship brought professional development processes to the fore, as well as making the process of development more explicit, another 'product'. As education designer, I am now more familiar with sytematic processes which support (and sometimes confuse!) the development process. I am also aware of an increase in my own confidence in supporting academics during this process, with a greater understanding of elements and moments that occur in the development process.