Description and reflection of my first specialist area.
Below lists the projects and clients I was involved in and produced media for.
- Blended Learning of Construction Skills 1 (BLoCS1), July 2005 – March 2007
- Blended Learning of Construction Skills 2 (BLoCS1), April 2007 – September 2008
- Innovation of Financial Literacy Skills Scotland (IFLSS), April 2009 – February 2010
- NHS Education Scotland, NHS, Strathclyde Fire Service and Police and other emergency services, January 2012 – August 2012
I have been involved in producing media for a range of online blended learning curriculum and distance learning projects. All have involved collaborating with Subject Matter experts (SME’s) educational or project partners in order to produce media which reinforced the underpinning knowledge of the courses/modules content. Media can encompass a variety of mediums which range from; photographic images, video footage, illustrations and diagrams and interactive elements.
My role focused around producing media used throughout the modules within the courses and modules. This involved collaborating with the projects learning technologist and SME’s to critically assess and analyse what media would be required to best compliment the content within each course/module. When required I would produce storyboards for the more complex and involved media items, these would give myself and the SME an opportunity evaluate it and make changes (if required) before production of the media item began. I would also analyse which software tool should be used in order to produce the required media items. User accessibility was also another consideration that I had to factor in when developing media, alt text for images, could the media be read by a screen reader, font size – all of these had to be considered when developing media.
In order to produce the media required for each course/module, I would first assess what media was required by discussing this with them the SME, in person, email or through telephone conversation. After the initial meeting with the SME any photographs or video required would be taken/filmed at the time, date and location agreed during the meeting. If an interactive flash object or illustration was required, I would develop this and present it to the SME in person or through email in order to receive their feedback. Communication was an important part of my roll, I had to effectively communicate ideas, concepts and any technical limitations to those involved in the project so the media produced met expectations and didn’t deviate from the original vision. SME’s or project staff would test the media developed to ensure it was accessible to users and was bug free. After the testing phase it was then shown to the SME or Learning Technologist who then approve it, after this it was inserted into the course or module.
I enjoyed working on these projects immensely, as it gave the opportunity to work with SME’s from different backgrounds, disciplines and with varying skills of computer literacy. The projects gave me the experience of dealing with variable timescales and multiple partners. This meant I had to quickly learn how to prioritise my time effectively and communicate clearly and concisely with everyone involved in the projects. Another key aspect was developing effective working relationships with our partners and of courses SME’s involved, building trust, respect and communication was a key aspect to ensuring effective media that complimented the modules content was developed. I also got the experience of developing a range of media, and enhanced my programming skills (Actionscript 2). I was able to take the skills I learned during these projects and apply them to future e-learning and distance learning projects.
There were of course challenges that had to be overcome as well. The first challenge that I encountered (when working on the BLoCS1 project) was materials that infringed copyright. Both text and images were the main culprit, as the S.M.E’s were under the impression it was acceptable to take images from any website or simply copy and paste text from other online or hard written hard copy sources. As a result of this being brought to light, all the S.M.E.’s had to be informed this was not acceptable, this was done face to face during one of weekly meetings, via email or by phone conversation.
In both of the ‘BLoCS’ projects I was involved in producing a specification document which catalogued the various graphic elements in project along with wording and the terminology used. When developing large scale projects that involve multiple modules, I have found this to a beneficial practice as it goes towards ensuring there is a consistency throughout all the modules that use the specification document as a guide. In more recent projects I have found developing a specification document (once all parties involved are in agreement) prepared before the major development work commences to be a great asset.
The other challenge I encountered in particular when producing media items across all of the elearning projects, is the ADDIE process itself. Does this process fit and align itself in a flexible manor when elearning media is required to be developed? I found the process to be a little inflexible, for example with a particular client I began with the usual ‘Analysis stage and we had a meeting to discuss they’re requirements. After this I produced a series of storyboards to show how the media object would look and function (Design stage) followed by a working prototype. When the storyboards and prototype were approved by the client I began the development stage and began to produce the working media object. The problem occurred when the Implementation stage was reached, despite viewing the storyboards and prototype the client decided to change their mind in relation to the content, layout and functionality of the media object. This resulted in the redevelopment of this media object on a number of occasions. You could argue, was this down to poor communication or lack of understanding between myself and the client? However in this instance the client had seen both storyboard and prototype. It’s at this juncture I began to analyse if the ADDIE model was suitable; would a more agile project management style be appropriate? I considered PRINCE 2, but this would be too cumbersome and inflexible, due to having pre-defined roles and the PID (Project Initiation Document) which dictates the direction of the project. Currently I am still in a dilemma on what may be the most efficient development model and this is something I will continue to investigate.
As I reflected upon earlier I did enjoy producing the media required for the projects I was involved in. I have taken forward the lessons I learned and this has aided me when developing current e-learning projects. I am able to pass on my knowledge relating to copyright to the academics I work with and have a specification document ready so there is a consistency throughout the projects I work on. I am of course looking forward to work on more projects and of course learn new lessons along the way.
The word doc and PDF below contain detailed information on my role in the online and blended learning projects I was involved in developing.
Download either version below.
|Detailed blended learning and distance learning Project information.doc.1 (40K) - Download
|Detailed blended learning and distance learning Project information.pdf.1 (139.5K) - Download
You can click on the links below to view the projects I was involved in producing media for. These demos have complete modules within them, which you can navigate through and see examples of the media I produced.
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