A collaborative design process for educational digital resources in African higher education

Ngimwa, Pauline Gachaki (2012). A collaborative design process for educational digital resources in African higher education. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000d3d9


Within Africa, access to digital library systems is critical in supporting higher level teaching, learning and research. Currently there is a high demand with inadequate resources which often produces poorly supported learning outcomes. The effectiveness of current resources is further limited by poor design processes, which is worsened by stakeholders (academics, e-learning technologists and digital librarians and designers) often working in isolation. Ultimately, designed resources become less user-centred and sustainable. This thesis sought to provide empirically developed collaborative design process guidance for design stakeholders developing educational digital resources within African higher education.

Following a Human Computer Interaction research approach, eleven best practice digital library projects identified from three case studies of African universities (in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa) were investigated. Data was drawn from interviews, observations and an examination of documents.

This investigation identified three interrelated factors that impacted on the design process (i. e. human relationships, innovative technologies and policies). The human relationships factor comprised multidisciplinary design stakeholders and included a subset i. e. design champions (multidisciplinary and domain champions) whose role changed the facilitation and eventual output of the other stakeholders in the design process. The multidisciplinary champions took on a participatory approach to engagement while the domain champions assumed an approach that was less engaging. The innovative technologies factor comprised universal technologies and `flexible' technologies (i. e. Web 2.0 applications and the Open Source Software) which supported the design process and enhanced user-centeredness and sustainability of the projects. Existing institutional and national policies supported stakeholder collaboration and application of the innovative technologies. The absence of any of these factors in the digital library projects weakened the design process and reduced effectiveness of digital resources.

These three factors have been used to develop the Collaborative Educational Resources Design (CERD) process model as a guidance tool to support multidisciplinary design stakeholders indesigning effective digital resources.

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