The Pattern Language Network

Taming web2.0 in Higher Education

Archive for the ‘case studies’ Category

The Story of the Planet Platform

Posted by yishaym on March 31, 2009

True to the dogfood principle, we now have a case study on the development of the Planet platform. An amazing tale on international mystery and intrigue. Well, maybe not – but if you’re working in a UK HE institure and thinking of launching an ambitious web2.0 project, you might find our experience informative.

Or, if you have been involved in a similar project, we would be curious to know: does this resonate with your experiece?

Its all there (in brief): the original plan, what went smoothly, what went wrong, and where we are at the end of the day. Enjoy!

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guest post from Martin Jones: sketches of a workshop

Posted by yishaym on January 13, 2009

Martin Jones and Maisie Platts joined us at the digital identities workshop last week. Martin and Maisie are illustrators, and they came to help us add a visual dimension to our stories – those we collect, as well as our observations from the workshop process. Martin has sent me some notes, and I’ve asked his permission to publish them here as a guest post:

Coffee was drunk standing up in groups in the foyer space, and online activities, texting etc took place sitting in the seminar room, where it was darker, and the rows of chairs made for a kind of anonimity

"Coffee was drunk standing up in groups in the foyer space, and online activities, texting etc took place sitting in the seminar room, where it was darker, and the rows of chairs made for a kind of anonimity"

My first observation, was that participants spontaneously occupied the two spaces available to them differently. Coffee was drunk standing up in groups in the foyer space, and online activities, texting etc took place sitting in the seminar room, where it was darker, and the rows of chairs made for a kind of anonymity. I think this observation was a result of a preconception of mine (screens as walls between real spaces) I didn’t manage to shake this preconception off all day, and it is reflected in a lot of the drawings.

As an artist, having groups of people who are cool with the idea of being drawn while they engage in a group activity was a great privilege. It picked up on a thread of work which I haven’t followed for quite some time – drawing crowds. I really enjoyed the challenge of working fast, and setting new challenges for myself along the way. i.e. sometimes drawing a scene that actually happened, sometimes drawing a scene that was being described, sometimes drawing a cartoon representation of the ideas being discussed.

sketches from the workshop.

sketches from the workshop.

The participants were very open to being drawn, and open to the idea that the process might be useful, even though I couldn’t come up with a short rational explanation of why it might be useful.

The fact that I joined in with the ‘draw three versions of yourself’ exercise meant that I thought of myself as part of the group I worked with first, although this was hard to sustain as my attention was divided with the drawing and moving to other groups.

3 faces game of identity game

"3 faces game of identity" game

I thought of myself as a ‘provoking’ presence, and also seized upon the work ‘lurker’ when it came up in one of the groups. I also drew Yishay and Steven as lurkers.

I think I came up with the idea of me being a provoking presence because I felt a slight frustration with the group for (as I saw it) resisting the idea of turning their contributions into anything that I would recognise as a story. They seemed much more interested in discussing the issues raised by the contributions in an open ended way. This I interpreted as evading the call to form a story because doing so would exclude all other ‘interesting’ avenues of discussion. I felt the call to form a story was the point of the workshop, not debating solutions. I didn’t express this directly, but attempted to ‘retell’ one of the contributions as a story such as one might see in a movie. This caused a slight pause among the participants, and they then returned to the discursive. No one picked this up by attempting to retell the story from their own imagination and experience, and I didn’t attempt this again (though I harboured the feeling that it would have been useful I had).

you cant be silent, theres no point in being there / why were they following me when I wasnt there

you can't be silent, there's no point in being there / why were they following me when I wasn't there? - Digital Identity Panic

I quite quickly started to imagine the workshop as an online community – potentially anyone could have walked in and joined in. People formed and reformed into little discussion groups. Everyone was very open with their opinions. I guess they were professional opinion-formers.

I was very taken with the idea of people only being partially or incompletely represented to each other online (it seemed as if there was a lot of desire to take control of this process, and a feeling of conflict that there was something wrong with the idea of controlling it – ie compromising what was good about the internet).

My drawings started to reflect this. I abandoned the idea that the drawing might represent the whole person, and concentrated only on single gestures, postures and groupings – along with representations of what was being said. I was conscious that sometimes my representations of what was being said was not necessarily true to the spirit of the speaker, but the slant of my listening. This added to my feeling of being a lurker.

The one exception to this was when one of the participants asked me to draw two situations their group had come up with to sum up the dilemma they were discussing (a pub and a sealed room). I felt very grateful to be asked to do something useful and achievable at this time of the day!

Lurking is important when engaging with new social platforms/services, especially when deciding what is a legitimate projection/use of identity. Space For Lurking

Martin Jones 12th Jan 09

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From stories to patterns, and back, and back again

Posted by yishaym on November 3, 2008

Let’s say you know how to write a case story, and we’ve convinced you that stories are not enough. But how do you get from a story to a pattern? Well, hopefully by March we’ll have something of an answer to that. In the meanwhile, here’s a tutorial that just might help:

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Studies or stories?

Posted by yishaym on October 16, 2008

One of the issues that came up at the recent formative e-assessment workshops was the disparate interpretations of Case Study. This led to the production of our tutorial. But it also got me thinking, maybe we can do better by a change of name. If we talk of “case stories” or “case narratives”, would that clarify what we’re looking for?

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Eureka!, again

Posted by yishaym on October 3, 2008

On Thursday we had the 2nd practical inquiry day of the formative e-assessment group. The focus of this day was collecting case stories and identifying seed patterns (aka proto-patterns).
To get people in the right mood, we started with the Eureka! game, which we first tried in Singapore. You have to try it – it’s such great fun, and brings out the hidden truths about learning.
It’s also a great release exercise before diving into case study writing. After playing this, people loose all inhibitions, and the stories just pour out.

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Cloudworks, pattern aggregators, and some news from the Planet platform

Posted by yishaym on September 29, 2008

Last week Jim, Steve and myself were invited to a Cloudfest with the Cloudworks team. A lot of interesting stuff came up (see George’s post). Among them, the question of sharing design objects (patterns, resources, etc.) across sites and the visual aspects of design objects. This resonated well with some the conversations we’ve been having here, as well as with recent discussions on hillside’s pattern languages mailing list.

We’ve been talking about the structure of a design pattern. The jury is still out on the definitive form, but we all agree that having visual elements is integral to a design pattern. So now our template includes slots for icon”, “illustration” and “diagram”. The icon appears in indices, the illustration appears at the top – as part of the motivation or inspiration for the pattern, and the diagram elaborates the solution. All three are optional, of course.

The issue of sharing information across sites is subject to a hot debate. When I record a pattern in our system, how do users of other repositories find it? In the case of Cloudworks, the idea is to broker design knowledge between communities – how do you populate the system? Part of the answer is in agreeing on a wire protocol and data format, and keeping them simple. The pattern eXchange section has a first draft of a semantic scheme which could be the basis for such a duo. Another part is indexing the aggregators (repositories, search engines, brokers) out there.

What else is new on the platform?

Well, the pattern and case study templates are slowly getting out of their teething phase. Email notifications are active (albeit clumsy). So, good progress – but if you’re looking for a programming project, we always have something interesting to offer.

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How to write a case study

Posted by yishaym on September 29, 2008

When we engage with practitioners, the first thing we ask them is for a case study. That seems to be an overloaded, somewhat obscure creature. We think we know exactly what it means, or at least what we’re looking for, but it turns out that the term is so widely used in so many ways, that it can go any odd way. Often people bring their personal statement of beliefs and achievements. In other cases, they will give a marketing presentation of their project or institution. All we really want is a good story. Believe me – that’s pretty close to the best place to start a discussion, which is what Planet is all about…

We developed the S.T.A.R.R template, which we provided as a powerpoint template and as an online form. That helped, but usually only after some verbal introduction. So here’s that introduction as a (hopefully) free-standing, self-explanatory slide deck:

Please let us know how to improve it..

(And if you’re struggling with the more technical issues, there’s the help page. )

Posted in case studies, help, slideshows, tools, user group | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

cheers, Daniel!

Posted by yishaym on July 22, 2008

Here’s a bit of feedback from Daniel, who participated in the Making Stuff Together workshop:

I have to say I was positively surprised by the workshop, as I told some of you it gave me an entirely new perspective for my own research and for design in general. I would be happy to work more on this (or be shepherded!), and I also think we could come up with some good stuff.

I didn’t have a case study with me for the workshop, but I have several years worth of “case studies” of online games┬áin my head that shouldn’t be too hard to replicate given some time. As you might have guessed my area of expertise (if you can call it that) is really┬áin games, and I would personally be quite interested in comparing the designpatterns for collaboration in games, to the patterns that designers currently try to use for creating collaborative online environments/programs. As someone mentioned during the workshop, the gaming industry are quite far ahead in many aspects such as collaboration and capturing the users interest.

Thanks Daniel. Good point about games – we should follow up on that.

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EMERGE Online Event – June 23rd: Planet Session

Posted by johnrg on June 25, 2008

Had a really useful time participating in the Planet session on Monday. It was helpful to have the originators of some of the case studies available to introduce them; this helped the process of identifying similar experiences in different contexts. The discussions were quite extensive and generally helped move the project forward. Given the range, differing levels of experience and interest of the participants I think we need to schedule at least 2 online sessions to elicit patterns, the first focused on cases and the generation of key factors arising from these, and the second to revisit and sharpen these key factors into patterns.

One thing that I feel would help me in this process would be examples for each phase of the process. Currently we have some example case studies and the seed patterns that they generate. Can we create some examples for the next phases and in particular examples for specific patterns so that people can see what they are aiming to produce?

After some 4 hours or so online I was in need of a break – particularly as I was presenting in another session later on Monday. I think this gives us some things to consider when planning similar events in the future; we need to ensure that participants have enough space and time to review cases and begin the process of identifying patterns without becoming exhausted.

Overall I feel that they session was successful and that we need to arrange to meet again with those who submitted case studies to take their contributions forward.

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Pattern Workshop: Making Stuff Together, London Knowledge Lab, 7th July

Posted by yishaym on June 13, 2008

The Pattern Language Network project (Planet) is running a one day workshop at the London Knowledge Lab, 7th July, around the theme of “Making Stuff Together“.

The purpose of this workshop is to look across dramatically different contexts of learning, and identify common elements of design: forces, contextual factors, challenges and methods of solution.

In this workshop we will focus on two environments: Multi-user virtual worlds (MUVEs) and collaborative web documents. At a first glance, these appear to be as different and unrelated as two on-line environments can be. Yet both are loci for activities of shared construction. It is this quality, and this tension, which we wish to explore as a driver of learning.

The workshop will be driven by user contributed case studies. These cases will be discussed in cross disciplinary groups, through which design patterns will be extracted and elaborated and scenarios developed.

To register, or for any inquiries, please contact:

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