Running throughout the DART timeframe, participants defined, ran and evaluated a digital media experiment that supported the goals of their organizations. The steps for each experiment followed this programme:
1. Define the action research question
Participants set out a question that encapsulated an organisational goal, or something they wanted to learn / gain experience with.
2. Generate ideas
Using grids, sticky notes and other workshop techniques. For example an “audience-led” approach could use ABC – Attention, Behaviour & Circulation.
3. Control scope
Working with mentors, participants shaped their ideas so that they were achievable, measurable and could be undertaken and evaluated within the timespan of the initiative. This involved reducing an approach to specific parts of the original idea – with the aim to be finding the “minimal viable experiment” that could answer the action research question.
4. Prototype and iterate experiments
Supported by mentors / industry experts, the participants put together prototypes for their digital media experiments. Participants were encouraged to make prototypes as simple and quick as possible – for example using prototyping software (eg Adobe XD) to explore and test user experience, rather than building a functioning interactive application. These were iterated rapidly throughout the project.
All experiments were designed to be measurable, providing quantitative a qualitative data to the participant, their mentors and the wider group. A key part of the project was skills development in interpreting and analysing results to inform further development and learning throughout each iteration.
6. Reflect and share
The focused nature of their experiments helped participants to better understand a medium, an audience, a communication technique or other identified factors. As well as generating experience and results to help answer their research questions, the initiative helped inform the macrocosm of the organization’s wider goals and development. Participants reflected upon how the learning from the experiment could be scaled to an organizational level, and what changes in policy, infrastructure, skills or strategies would be required to support further digital development.