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Wednesday, November 19 • 10:15am - 10:45am
Creativity with Control – Improving the quality of open education research through a blended project management environment.

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The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation funded OER Research Hub is an ambitious project which combines research collaboration with existing OER initiatives; an international fellowship program; and a global hub for research data and excellence in practice (McAndrew & Farrow, 2013). Managing and co-ordinating a project of this scope raised a number of challenges. The project team sought to blend a traditional and agile project management environment to create the most responsive, flexible and creative hybrid environment possible to accommodate the project's ambitions.
We believe we have created a control environment that delivers creative academic research project outputs and, furthermore, that this environment can be replicated and used across the sector to improve the overall quality of open education research. Key to this is a blend of traditional and "agile" research which approaches research questions creatively while maintaining the Institute of Educational Technology's (IET) reputation for the delivery of high quality research.
Traditional project management (PRINCE2, 2009) involves very deliberate planning and control activities. From a project management perspective, OER Research Hub raises a number of challenges:
- A distributed collaboration model
- Global research remit
- Establishing an "agile" workflow which makes effective use of human resources
- Harmonising research activities toward one overall view of OER impact
- Finding ways to deliver services of use to the OER community
- Inadequacy of typical staged delivery model
We sought to blend our own mix of traditional and agile methodologies. Our traditional approach requires significant upfront planning with clearly defined tasks and activities undertaken to deliver individual products. This method assumes that activities are predictable and well understood, and are linear in their delivery. Even though clear direction and requirements were specified in the original proposal, the very nature of impact research requires you to seek out and reveal unique insight and possibilities often in non-linear and unpredictable ways.
Agile project management methodologies prominent in software and IT development (Hoda et al, 2008) were co-opted into research and project management. The "scrum" approach that we used consists of many rapid initiative planning and development cycles, allowing the project team to constantly evaluate the evolving product and obtain immediate feedback from users or stakeholders. When we looked at what our researchers were being tasked with and how they were being asked to undertake that work a great deal of similarities were identified with the agile methodology. Our evolving product was our research data; our stakeholders were collaborations and the open education community; and we needed to know if our research was providing the answers that they required in order to inform their policy decisions. The adapted "agile" methodology allowed us to focus on specific problem areas, to be flexible and to follow where the research led.
This presentation will discuss the blending of the planned and "agile" approaches, how this was managed and what the blended approach gave us in terms of improved quality of research in open education.


References
Hoda, R., Noble, J. & Marshall, S. (2008) Agile Project Management, published in the proceedings of the New Zealand Computer Science Research Student Conference 2008, April 2008, Christchurch, New Zealand, pp. 218-221

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2: 2009 Edition, Office of Government Commerce (OGC), London

McAndrew, Patrick and Farrow, Robert (2013). The ecology of sharing: synthesizing OER research. In: OER 13: Creating a virtuous circle, 26-27 March 2013, Nottingham.

Speakers
GE

Gary Elliott-Cirigottis

The Open University
avatar for Claire Walker

Claire Walker

Project Coordinator, The Open University
I'm a PRINCE2 Practitioner and am the Project Co-ordinator for the OER Research Hub project based at the Open University in the UK. | | The Open Educational Resources Research Hub (OER Research Hub) provides a focus for research, designed to give answers to the overall question ‘What is the impact of OER on learning and teaching practices?’ and identify the particular influence of openness. We are working in collaboration with... Read More →


Wednesday November 19, 2014 10:15am - 10:45am
Roanoke

Attendees (54)