The Creation of Users: A Learning Experience in Information System Development

The Creation of Users: A Learning Experience in Information System Development

Jan Aidemark, Linda Askenäs
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/IJEHMC.2018040105
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The purpose of this article is to provide a better understanding of an information systems development process from a learning theory perspective. The authors wish to investigate how learning concepts can improve the practice of developing such systems. They look closer at the activities and outcomes of a development project with the focus on the user side and how these can be understood using different theories from the field of learning. The purpose of the case project was to ensure that the intended users of the systems (in this case, heart failure patients) should be able to influence the choices made during the project so that the implemented system would benefit the whole group of patients. During this process, it became apparent that the users themselves developed and changed a great deal. In this research, the authors therefore wish to investigate the learning and change mechanism that came into play through the designed participative ISD process. As a result, they suggest that a learning mechanism should be planned for in any ISD process, regardless of what methodology is applied.
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The importance of user involvement has been described by Ives and Olsen (1983) as “almost axiomatic” for the success of information systems development projects. Studies have shown that the relationship between user and developer is complicated. Taffe (2015), for example, states that little research exists on how participation in design influences end users. Taffe (2015) presents a study of a project and points to the threat of end-user involvement where the users become designers during the project. The area of co-design or participative design is under evolution (Sanders & Stappers, 2008), and the role of the user in such ISD projects could take many forms and serve different purposes. Sanders & Stappers (2008) envision a development where there are no users, just co-designers.

We aim here to investigate user involvement from a learning perspective. Human learning is about how individuals are able to alter their behavior on the basis of interactions with their environment and with other people. An information systems development (ISD) process is a massive exercise in knowledge creation, transfer and application. In this paper, we wish to explore our experiences of an information systems development process through the lens of learning theory. This implies exchanges of knowledge between the main partners of the process, i.e. the IT/development experts, the experts of the host organization and the intended users. Knowledge transfer, especially from the host organization to the IT developer, has been long recognized as the key to a successful information system that contributes to the goals of an organization. Similarly, the role of the user is captured in various versions of, e.g., participatory or cooperative design. Here we focus on the user perspectives and examine the learning properties of various actions included in a development process.

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