And hello books, libraries, students, and the warm fuzzy feeling of a new project with a good prospect of discovery, and plenty of exciting “stuff”. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a designer & developer working at CARET on educational technology tools, websites and research. I will be doing my Arcadia Fellowship in the next 10 weeks, with the aim of finding out more about how students go about their reading at the University of Cambridge. I will use this blog to write down things that I wouldn’t want to forget, sort of as an unofficial project diary and mainly with an aim to “download my brain” somewhere fairly regularly. Sometimes my brain works in mysterious ways, so I am not expecting that all posts will be clear and comprehensible for a wide audience, but I turned comments on (Ideas? Questions? Comments? top right), so any of you interested feel free to ask away and make comments. Also I am expecting that I will publish plenty of subjective, opinionated, work-in-progress, self- and just plain contradictory things, as I believe that all these are natural stages of and enrich a thought process.
Obviously as it is normally with large-ish projects, at the beginning there is chaos, a rainbow coloured soup of ideas, expectations, assumptions and uncertainties. So in order to somewhat clear things up, have a vague plan of attack and a clear(ish) goal that I would like to reach, I decided that it is probably wise to start by doing some background work in the following areas:
Spell out what exactly I am trying to achieve and how
In one next posts I will write up a small elevator pitch of what this project is about. I will need this for my own sanity, but more importantly because I am expecting that during the project I will have to be able to tell uninitiated people what, how and why I am doing all this in a very short time, and using simple, unconvoluted language.
During the kickoff meting, John Naughton kindly suggested a couple of books which might be beneficial to read as background insight and which I am intending to read:
BTW - did you see what just happened there? I went to talk to some people who are are more experienced/knowledgeable than me, and from that conversation 3 book titles emerged without any planning, dynamically, just as a side product of a conversation and which directly affects what I will read in the short term. Any parallels with supervisions at Cambridge? Things like this will be fascinating to know more about.
It is fairly evident that ethnographic research will play a big role in this project. So my initial thinking is that I have to make sure that apart from gaining insight, understanding and “picking up the subjectiveness of the target audience”, I would like to be able to have good practices in capturing raw data, analyse, and communicate things. I will have discussions with professional practitioners in the field in the next couple of days and go for inspiration to people like Kelly Goto and organisations like IDEO. I would like to make sure that the process captures as much as possible, that I translate the data into meaningful insights, and that those insights are easy to understand for other people.
Pioneers before me
I am pretty sure that there are people who already did work in this area, so it would be foolish not to build on the wealth of those findings in this project, but at the same time acknowledging that this is an independent project from those. I will look at the work of Huw Jones on reading lists, the mobile library work done by Keren Mills, and I am pretty sure that there are plenty of other things which I don’t even have a clue of.
Any more suggestions?