They say that time and tide wait for no man. At Epigeum, we would add ‘technology’ to the list. Epigeum prides itself on producing top quality digital learning resources, but what happens to them when time and technology (inevitably) move on?
As our very first course ‘Intellectual property in the research context’ was published nearly ten years ago, when the company consisted of just two full-time members of staff, both time and technology had certainly moved on and it became clear that Epigeum’s maiden courses were in need of some TLC to bring them up to date. Thus, in October 2012, we began the not-insignificant task of updating all eighteen courses in the Research Skills Master Programme.
As someone who joined the company just three years ago, at a point when Epigeum was expanding its teams and setting itself ever-higher pedagogical and production standards, the opportunity to transform our older courses in line with those standards was most gratifying. We’re a team of perfectionists, here at Epigeum, and although our oldest courses were still of a high quality, we knew there was room for improvement.
The brief was simple. All we had to do was convert each course from its original Flash format to a whizzy new HTML5 interface to improve accessibility and enable compatibility with mobile devices; bring key information and examples up to date; add a few new learning features and apply a fresh new page design – while at the same time retaining all the original courses’ tried and tested pedagogical features and, if I may say so, innate charm. Oh, and take into account existing user feedback and the thoughts of our ‘development group’ (our term for a set of universities who collaborate with us to peer review and shape all our courses). Eighteen courses, nine authors, three web developers, two editors, one designer, one year – easy enough, right?
Sort of. I can’t deny that those perfectionist tendencies hampered things somewhat, as enthusiastic authors and editors sailed off piste into a flurry of rewriting and restructuring, adding new interactive activities wherever appropriate and generally increasing the scope of the project beyond practical reason. Stress levels ran high. It became a cruel irony that every time I tried to type the word ‘course’, it came out as ‘curse’.
But we managed it. Thanks to our conscientious, good-humoured authors and a dedicated production team, we published the updated Research Skills Master Programme on time and complete with the best of the old and a whole lot more ‘new’ than originally hoped for. We’ve now also successfully updated our Good Clinical Practice programme and our Avoiding Plagiarism course to the same standard.
It’s amazing to see the leaps and bounds that Epigeum has made over the last nine years, both technologically and editorially, and, as we approach the company’s ten-year anniversary, we’re all looking forward to seeing what our learning resources will look like in the years to come. No doubt I will be updating those eighteen courses again to make them compatible with Google Glass or similar.