Session 2 aimed to build on the prototype of the first week by adding more detail and establishing the meta data fields. In plain English, what this means is to work out which search and browse terms to use and to ensure that they make sense to the group as this will impact on how the community uses the tool and whether it is ultimately sustainable.
Unfortunately, due to it being the summer holidays, two group members Maboobeh and Leah couldn’t be present and Sara could only be there for half a session. In addition, Tommy another facilitator from the CAN Do IT course joined the group. This meant that the sessions we planned had to be condensed and we had to bring Tommy up to speed with the project. First key learning point of the day: As a trainer, flexiblity is a must – sometimes you have to be willing to change your plans at the last minute in order to meet the needs of the group.
With a bit of thought we found a way of reflecting on and evaluating the previous session which helped to cement our learning and re-visit the design decisions from last week whilst also introducing Tommy to the project. We asked the group some questions and recorded the resulting discussion…
We then moved quickly on to doing a rough sketch of four key elements of the site: ‘List, browse, search, details’. Due to the acceleration of the session this proved to be a bit confusing! For those of us who had never designed a website before, we weren’t sure where to start. There was also a lack of clarity about the difference between ‘list view’ and ‘detail view’ which became apparent when we fed back our quick designs to the rest of the group. Much of the confusion dissipated when we looked at the ‘OER Commons’ repository for guidance. This gave us a much clearer idea of the different possibilities but also raised some interesting questions in relation to our learning: Would it have been better to show us model repositories at the beginning before we did a rough sketch or was all that confusion an important part of the learning process? How much would showing a model repository beforehand affect our own designs?
In the afternoon session, we visited Schema.org – a website which offers a collection of schemas to improve the search-ability and browse-ability on websites. By going through a list of suggested meta data terms and choosing which ones to keep and which to replace we began to design the ‘detail’ view of the website. The process of choosing which words to use and which we should replace with other terms that had more meaning to us, prompted discussion on who we are as a community of practice and what language has meaning and relevance to us. This is really important to get right if we are to create a tool which is owned by the community and reflects its needs.
Unfortunately we ran out of time and were unable to focus on the other aspects of the site. Mick has taken away the designs we have already and is in the process of creating a prototype for testing. The group re-convenes on 20th August for another 3 sessions which will allow us to test the site in its current form and make suggested revisions.
Session 2 was more challenging than session 1. Some of the group were unable to attend and we had to accelerate the session. It felt that rushed and that there was little time for explanation. This is partly down to the time of the year that the sessions are being held – many people are taking annual leave at this time.
Holding the sessions at the place of work of the participants is also potentially problematic. Some times we are interrupted because staff have to respond to urgent matters. Holding sessions at a different place might allow people to focus more easily.
When we were asked to do a quick design for the 4 elements on the website: list, browse, search, details, I felt ill equipped to do it because I had no prior experience of designing a website, particularly when others in the group do this work for a living. For me there was a divide between myself, the novice and the experts. This was a barrier to my participation.It would be interesting to explore this further and to find out whether these perceptions exist for other people in this setting, whether they have experience in other participatory processes and what they did to overcome this perception and support people to contribute.