Design Research Techniques

Design Research Techniques is an "online repository is a necessarily unfinished and evolving resource for Participatory Design Techniques. These techniques help evolve a project lifecycle through participation of multiple stakeholders including potential users or audiences, partners or internal teams."

Thanks to my colleague Axel for finding this resource. It is, indeed, unfinished, but quite a good source of design research methods (which is one of the courses I teach at HSLU).

End User Development and more from

Mads Soegaard and his wife Rikke Friis Dam have been hard at work over at their site, a free and well put together resource of educational materials about interaction design. The whole site is set up as an encyclopedia with tightly focused articles that have expert commentary underneath and often plenty of video interview material. It’s also been formatted for print/PDF export as well as iPad/iPhone reading. A lot of effort has gone into the site (read the history of it) and it is well worth regularly visiting – the main encyclopedia page already has plenty of useful chapters.

Mads has pre-released some new material on End User Development, “a set of methods, techniques and tools that allow users of software systems, who are acting as non-professional software developers, at some point to create, modify, or extend a software artifact” (Lieberman et al 2006). The intro video is below, which gives some definitions:

While the focus of this tends to be on software, I think there are also some lessons to be learned in terms of service designers delivering tools and skills to organizations they are working for, who in turn can further develop according to their needs themselves. On the one hand, it feels like we’re almost putting ourselves out of business – the old teach a man to fish idea. But I think there are plenty of smaller situations in which organizations do well working internally and pull in outside expertise when they feel they need the external input or a deeper knowledge of a process. It’s much like the difference between basic car maintenance and hiring a mechanic. The added benefit is that organizations are much more receptive to your processes and interventions when they have already taken on the mindset themselves.

Learning to Teach Online – a great new resource

COFA Online has just launched an excellent new resource for lecturers getting into online teaching and learning. I have taught in several other institutions in Europe since I moved back in 2006, but the work being done at COFA Online is lightyears ahead of anything I’ve seen elsewhere. It steers clear of being trendy, while staying on top of changing trends. The focus is on high quality teaching and learning, not on technology for technology’s sake.

With nearly half a billion people on Facebook and blogs, Twitter and Wikis so dominant in the media, you would think all of this is obvious, but it’s not. I know many faculty feel pretty daunted and overwhelmed by the prospect of teaching online and it’s often a challenge to re-think many years of experience teaching face-to-face. I also know many who see the technology as a quick, cheap fix, which it is not. Teaching online well requires a lot more care, planning and attention to pedagogy than face-to-face teaching.

(Me talking about managing time online – my wife will be laughing)

I have been lucky to have been part of the early development of COFA Online at UNSW for over 11 years now. In the early days, Rick Bennet, Leon Chan and I used to sit in Leon’s kitchen and discuss how our three courses were running. Only three courses? Yes. The reason being that we wanted to iterate the process and make our mistakes on a small scale before expanding the course numbers. Bear in mind that this was during the dotcom boom when many institutions were throwing up hundreds and thousands of “courses” online without much care for the user interface or pedagogy.

Since then, the COFA Online folks have expanded those kitchen table chats into a far more sophisticated set of strategies and methods for mentoring staff through the process of developing an online course as well as supporting their teaching. And they now have over 1,000 They have been working hard on an Australian Learning & Teaching Council project for a some time and have just gone live with the first batch of episodes from their Learning to Teach Online Project.

From Simon McIntyre and Karin Watson who have masterminded the project:

The project is designed as a free professional development resource for teachers from any discipline worldwide. It aims to help them better understand online learning and teaching, and to help them get starting in developing their own online teaching practices – a necessary skill in today’s changing society. Episodes contain a video to introduce and discuss issues and ideas, and a PDF that people can download to read about the issues in more depth.

The episodes contain interviews with academics from many different disciplines and institutions around Australia and the UK. There are contextual videos discussing topics related to online pedagogy and practice, case studies that feature specific examples of best practice, and technical ‘how to’ style videos to help teachers get starting themselves.

The number of episodes will continue to grow and diversify over the next few months, and we would really appreciate your help in spreading the word about the project. In the future we’d also like to feature more COFA Online teaching, once we have finished all of the episodes we are committed to make for the ALTC.

These are but the first of many more video and PDF episodes that will released over the coming months. These episodes were made with the assistance of the Creative Development unit at Learning and Teaching, and use UNSW TV as a distribution point, pushing the content to:

You can also watch the content on mobile devices such as phones and iPads on the Gateway website.