The HumBox: Changing educational practice around a learning resource repository

Authors: Millard, D., Borthwick, K., Howard, Y., McSweeney, P. and Hargood, C.

Journal: Computers & Education

Volume: 69

Publisher: Elsevier

DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.028

The HumBox is a learning resource repository for the Humanities educational community in the UK. Over the last three years the challenge for HumBox has been to act as not only a shared library for its community, but also to change the working practices of individuals in that community by encouraging them to work in a more open way and to actively share their materials and ideas with others. Getting users to engage with and adopt innovative systems is a well-known problem; with the HumBox our approach was to focus on user-experience (UX) design through agile development and ongoing participatory and co-design activities. In this paper we present a mixed-methods evaluation of the success of this engagement over the past three years, focusing especially on the way that users have appropriated the system and its services in order to solve real problems. Our evaluation reveals that for many HumBox users we have been successful in creating a technology that is invisible (meaning beneath the level of notice and concern) and that the result of this is less micro-appropriation (users adopting and using specific features in new ways) and more macro-appropriation (users adopting and adapting the site as a whole). We conclude that in the case of HumBox invisible technology coupled with the social framework of co-design and user engagement activities, has allowed a diffusion of ownership, and created a safe social and technical environment where the community can debate high-level issues, and that this has led to changes in both professional and pedagogical practice.

This source preferred by Charlie Hargood

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Authors: Millard, D.E., Borthwick, K., Howard, Y., McSweeney, P. and Hargood, C.

Journal: Computers and Education

Volume: 69

Pages: 287-302

ISSN: 0360-1315

DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2013.07.028

The HumBox is a learning resource repository for the Humanities educational community in the UK. Over the last three years the challenge for HumBox has been to act as not only a shared library for its community, but also to change the working practices of individuals in that community by encouraging them to work in a more open way and to actively share their materials and ideas with others. Getting users to engage with and adopt innovative systems is a well-known problem; with the HumBox our approach was to focus on user-experience (UX) design through agile development and ongoing participatory and co-design activities. In this paper we present a mixed-methods evaluation of the success of this engagement over the past three years, focusing especially on the way that users have appropriated the system and its services in order to solve real problems. Our evaluation reveals that for many HumBox users we have been successful in creating a technology that is invisible (meaning beneath the level of notice and concern) and that the result of this is less micro-appropriation (users adopting and using specific features in new ways) and more macro-appropriation (users adopting and adapting the site as a whole). We conclude that in the case of HumBox invisible technology coupled with the social framework of co-design and user engagement activities, has allowed a diffusion of ownership, and created a safe social and technical environment where the community can debate high-level issues, and that this has led to changes in both professional and pedagogical practice. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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