On 21st and 22nd of April the Clipper team headed to Coventry University to meet up with staff from the Coventry School of Art and Design, based in the Department of Media and the Disruptive Media Lab. This was an ‘early doors’ meeting with potential users and adopters of the Clipper toolkit and the first outing for our very early visualization prototype. We knew from previous collaborations that it would be good to discuss the Clipper ideas with them – as they have been at the forefront of some of the most interesting open media education developments in the UK in recent years – check out their blog.
What started as a sedate trip down from Scotland for John and Will ended up as a scramble against time as we endured lengthy train delays but we made it into Coventry in time to hook up with Trevor from the OU and visit the disruptive media lab to talk to Dr. Roy Bhakta (Senior research Assistant) and Alex Masters (Learning Technology). The feedback we got in our discussions was really useful (interfaces, rationale etc.) and helped us to view our work from an outsider’s perspectives – always useful and tricky when you are so close to a project.
After meeting at the lab we headed off to have a much needed curry to restore our strength! Over the curry and at the hotel we had quite a lengthy project meeting where we thrashed out more ideas for the interface and made some real progress. As Trevor remarked – its really hard making things simple! That is one of the challenges we face with Clipper – trying to make things simple in what is really quite a cognitively demanding set of tasks for a user. We made good progress and managed to simplify and remove some elements from the interface. These interface issues are also a challenge to the BBC R&D people we have been talking to – more on that later
Next morning we headed back to the lab to meet some people we missed the day before – Shaun Hides (Head of Dept. of Media and Co-Director of the Lab) and Martin Jenkins (Academic Development and Learning Technology). Another really useful set of discussions, we talked about Clipper giving access to archives and helping users construct their own narratives ‘through’ original materials and how the Clipper documents might act like DOI’s (one to follow up)- a kind of unique reference number for a digital object that link to an online catalogue record about the object . User analytics and user generated metadata were also topics that came up. We also talked about the wider publishing toolset we are working on in terms of a user-centered ePortfolio system for lifelong learning outside academia.
Next it was onto Birmingham New Street Station to meet Jonathan Shaw (Lab Co-Director and Associate Head of Media Dept.) where we chatted over coffee about what we were up to and showed the prototype, Jonathan was interested in the publishing angles, which we are going to follow up. We also got another useful lead to potential adopters.
Then it was time for the Clipper team to go our separate ways – on the return trip to Scotland our train broke down at Carlisle and we had more delays…still it was well worth it… a very productive meeting indeed, thanks to the hospitality and interest from Coventry colleagues.