Mozfest: Designing for authoring on mobile devices

Mozilla Festival, was as usual, energized and overwhelming at the same time. 
A thousand people filled the Ravensbourne media 
campus in East London. Marvin Reimer and I attended to show off OERPUB’s tools and designs for authoring remixable open education resources, meet with potential collaborators, and learn from fellow attendees. 
Workshop: Authoring on mobile devices: We ran a workshop to figure out what kinds of editing people will want to do on their mobile devices and how to support them.


The group of 12 or so developers that joined us started out by breaking into smaller groups and brainstorming about what authors, especially of textbook material, would want to do on mobile devices. We used the classic method of putting things on sticky notes and then moving them around to categorize them (affinity diagrams). From this process, two themes emerged: 1. resource gathering and 2. review and commenting.

Designs we came up with in the actual session

We had two design challenges that came out of the initial brainstorming and sticky note sorting that we did. Each had two teams of 3-4 people working on them.

Design challenge 1: Resource Gathering on Mobile

Challenge: Create a way to do research and resource gathering on your mobile devices for creating your book, textbook, or other narrative learning materials.

Gathering phase: Both groups decided to use the Android “Share This” capability and embed a share for digital book projects. That way the browser, social networks, camera, and video recorder would all be able to “share” to your scrapbook. Upon sharing, authors would have an option to choose a project/book or subproject/chapter.

Metadata: The “share this” part of the app would gather as much metadata as it could about the resource automatically. If authors want to add more they can do it at share time if they really want to, but the most likely time to complete the metadata would be when the authors have definitely decided to use the resource in a particular location.

Organization: One of the groups came up with a “google maps” metaphor for a scrapbook view of the resources, where you would use location on a large surface to organize and colocate similar materials. Dragging and tagging would be the way to group and organize. Searching would be supported.

Placement: The materials in the scrapbook can be placed in two different ways:

  1. either directly into the document (where a popup will ask for any missing attribution and licensing material), or 
  2. as an annotation onto some part of the document — chapt/section/exercise etc. 

One of the groups thought of an auto search feature that would show items in the scrap book that matched the current text or material.

Design Challenge 2: Review and Comment on Writing Project on Mobile

Challenge: Create an app for commenting and reviewing content on mobile devices. 

Review was one of the most common themes during our early brainstorming for activities that would be desirable on mobile devices. Authors and editors would be glad to review and comment on materials while they are in route places or waiting. Both teams came up with designs that allowed selecting text and adding an annotation that could show up on the side. One of the teams wanted a clear way to distinguish between reader and reviewer comments, in case both could happen at once and they drew different tools for each.

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