Monday, October 24, 2011

Creating IT Roadmaps, Gathering Data

This is a second post in a series of posts describing a technology roadmapping exercise I am completing. All the posts in this series can be found under my roadmap label for this blog. This post focuses on the how, why and where I am gathering data, with beginnings of how I am organizing and visualizing the data.

1. Narrow the subject area and context

This roadmap will focus on adults engaging in continuing professional development and life-long learners focusing on legal education for lawyers, legal assistants, notaries and self represented litigants. In general, the audience is focusing on accessing legal materials and related learning resources published from a number of online sources, both public and private.  The context for access is usually for researching a subject of personal or professional concern over a (long and short) period of time. The assumption being that the longer the duration the greater the depth. This does not mean that short bursts of access is not seeking depth of learning.

The main threat is within two areas. Firstly, in published materials. Not in the published materials being replaced, but the customers are expecting them being available on a new device which eases access geographically and 24x7, and allows greater collaboration around the published materials so they are more relevant and up to date. Customers will increasingly seek published materials being made available in this way. Second, is with online programs, courses, workshops, etc. Blended and online learning is growing and this eases the need to travel and allocated set blocks of time to attend learning events.

2. Know your audience

The audience are adult learners with a post-secondary level of education. Their learning styles are going to be constructivist with a strong influence from connectivist approaches. Increasingly these learners are looking for alternate ways to access learning materials. These alternatives are both geographic (reducing the need to travel and access from any device any time) and the ability to access learning resources 7 x 24. When a learner leaves working on one device the next device they resume their learning has knowledge of where they left off.

Understanding the technology adoption rates for your audience is very important. The challenge is finding data defining technology adoption rates for specific audiences and the adoption rates for the different demographic groups within the audience. If you have the resources doing surveys targeted toward your audience can be very helpful. Otherwise, staying aware of technology trends and bookmarking or tagging technology adoption is a good way to gather data. I have often tag resources related to technology adoption, they fall within my "roadmap" delicious tag, follow it here;
3. Acknowledge that roadmaps are visual tools

Within this roadmap there are a number of different attributes that need to be represented in a single (well, potentially multiple) visual(s). As my research of these attributes deepened they began to fall into three main categories;

Pedagogical - events, ideas, new theories, approaches that relate to teaching and learning.
  • emerging and existing learning theories
  • emerging approaches to online learning and teaching
  • social and collaborative technologies well suited to learning
Technological - current and emerging technologies well suited to and influencing adult learning.
  • personal devices and browsers
  • internet and technology platforms 
  • application software well applied to learning
Sectoral - subject or business sector attributes to be considered or will influence the roadmap.
  • strategic plan (known initiatives)
  • financial & economic
  • jurisdictional issues
  • threats

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