You’re Not the Boss of Me! Using a Remote Team-based Approach to Develop Online Learning Objects

Poster Description: How do you get a new project off the ground without administrative or managerial guidance? Our poster details how our four-person team tackled creating a library of online learning objects. It discusses our process and the criteria for creation, production, and organization of the materials.

Poster: View the poster in Canva.

Presenter Name(s): Danielle Skaggs, West Chester University; Rachel McMullin, West Chester University; Gary Childs, West Chester University; Amy Pajewski, West Chester University

Presenter Bio(s): Danielle Skaggs, Gary Childs, Amy Pajewski, and Rachel McMullin are faculty librarians at West Chester University. They are respectively the eLearning/Web Librarian, Engineering (STEM-H) Librarian, Student Success Librarian, and Humanities Librarian, and none are managers. While all of them have an interest in and experience making online learning objects, it is not a significant part of their job duties.

6 replies on “You’re Not the Boss of Me! Using a Remote Team-based Approach to Develop Online Learning Objects”

Can you share a bit on the limitations you may have experienced?
What were the issues related to management?

Hi Selwyn, Thanks for you questions. I’m especially glad you asked about the limitations because there is supposed to be a video attached to that section and it isn’t working. We’ll try to get that fixed! One limitation is that you really need equal buy-in from everyone for a flat team approach. Also, you need to have a work environment where everyone is willing to speak up– especially in situations where not everyone agrees. Otherwise you will end up with a situation where one or two people take over. For the issues related to management, our library managers were simply 100% focused on managing the building, staff, and services as we moved to remote then back to in-person, but COVID-safer, operations. They appreciated the work the team did, but didn’t have time to be involved, much less lead.

How did you handle the skills gap. I’ve been learning video editing and animation for the last year, and some of my colleagues aren’t ready to climb the learning mountain with me.

The problem is when one person pushes the envelope, what you can do in a video becomes a lot more sophisiticated and it’s hard to turn back.

Hi Eileen,

Great question! Our team made the decision to focus on content vs. production style. Since half of the team typically uses Camtasia and the other half use Kaltura we accepted that there will be some level of individual difference from the beginning stages of this effort. Team members that use Kaltura tend to favor one really great take, where Camtasia users tend to edit and produce more heavily. We also accept that the tutorials will have a relatively short shelf life. As we will most likely return to a very different situation in the fall of 2021, we assumed that some of the content we created will need to be entirely re-done due to changing policy and procedures, as well as any interface-related updates that might occur.

Our Libraries’ discovery system was updated soon after the initial wave of videos was created during the summer of 2020, so while the scripts we wrote were useable, we had to re-record a large portion of the videos in the fall of 2020. The team also took the stance of using a rapid production style, so the tutorials could be used by our university community as quickly as possible.

The team has also provided training that is open to all staff and faculty in the Libraries. While our approach is not entirely uniform we are all learning from each other and sharing tips along the way. In my personal opinion it has made the process vastly more enjoyable. We are not constrained to a specific approach and we have the freedom to explore the tools we have access to.

I rely on Flashintegro (also called VSDC) to make videos. I consider it a midrange tool with Adobe Animate as the gold standard. You can figure where I think this puts Camtasia and Kaltura. I am learning/keeping up with Adobe Animate, but it’s not available as free software for my home computer, and I work half the time at home.

And yes, I can sympathize with having to redo videos. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution set up a paywall, so now my AJC video needs a new segment in the middle. Fortunately, I have the .vproj, editable Flashintegro file and can go in and add the segment. The hard part will be making a slot in the five layer time line. That’s going to mean lots of little pushes and shoves. That is the upside of medium-to-high-end software.

By the way, what software do you use to make your graphics? I use GIMP because I am used to it. I’m learning Photoshop because that is what is on the library computers for students, but I can use GIMP both at home and at work. Computer graphics have been my passion for nearly all my entire adult life. I think everyone should learn to use a full featured graphics package.

Hi Eileen,

The tutorial team has not created or used additional graphics/images in the digital objects we have produced at this stage. There is a chance our administration may want us to insert some official branding, but that hasn’t occurred as of yet. However, there are Libraries staff members that specialize in the area of communications vs. instruction. From what I understand they mostly use Adobe Illustrator.