What I used to think I knew isn't helping: adventures in higher ed open source

The Input of Pedagogists

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I was on a call with the Teaching and Learning (T&L) Sakai community yesterday, and was happy to find the focussed energy around articulating basic user needs picking up steam. It’s true that the mechanism in view is this spreadsheet, but I think the larger point, as I’ve said before, is that our pedagogists can best influence the product by turning their accumulated practical wisdom into the sorts of insights that can guide design.

The caveat is that it can take a fair bit of effort to reign in our technological assumptions, since so many of us are also technologists. It takes work to walk back from our ideas for good software features, built upon a decade or more of experimentation with web tools, and then trace them back to the originating point of the user need. It’s hard to shake free of the temptation to simply lay out feature requests or requirements and ask that they be developed literally, as opposed to expressing the need and trusting to experienced design talent to see that need met in a way that fits well with everything else, and probably didn’t follow the picture you had in your head.

It’s hard, but it’s work that needs to be done. The next stage, I think we’re all agreed, is trying to take the raw material in that spreadsheet and bring to it some consistency of interpretation, even some organization.

I have great hopes for this exercise, so much in fact that I feel I need to restrain my naive enthusiasms. I see in it the potential for not only informing current design work, but also for laying out a framework for a community roadmap, as we come to a shared picture of what the fundamental building blocks are, how we can build upon and refine them, and ultimately how we expect Sakai can make a difference for those we’re trying to serve.

Like I said, naive enthusiasms.


Written by khomotso

December 3, 2009 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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