Remote learning and working in the Content Design Academy

This guest blog post is written by Katie Jones and Mark Foley. They are students of Content Design Academy course and here are some reflections of what they’ve learnt along the way.

As a group unfamiliar with content design, we not only had to learn new skills but also find ways of working collaboratively while not being in the same room. Surprisingly, we found that this has some advantages.  

Collaborating on a wider scale

Katie Jones

When I joined the academy, I was excited to take on the challenge of learning and absorbing everything I could about content design. However, I did wonder how it would be possible to pull off an end-to-end project as a team effectively through Zoom.

Although we are not yet half way through the project, I have quickly realised it’s not only possible but it’s a great way to diversify learning and collaborate on a wider scale.

Diversity enriches the standard of work

Whilst the thought of virtually meeting 18 new people plus the trainers was at first daunting to me, I soon realised that the people on the other side of the screen wanted the same out of the Academy as I did; a welcoming and supportive space to learn from the trainers and each other alike. 

Each week has been a learning curve for me but what I’ve found particularly useful is the collaborative approach to completing tasks and peer reviewing each other’s work.

Not only do you learn the process for designing content but also how diversity in people can enrich the standard of work you produce. Content design is not about one person conquering an end-to-end project but bringing people along with you and always learning and being open to different interpretations from others. 

Content design is a team effort

Mark Foley

One thing I did not expect when beginning the academy is that the work would be quite so collaborative. We completed almost all the tasks as a group. This had its challenges. Working with different time zones, schedules and busy home lives, we organised group video calls and virtual whiteboard sessions to discuss, plan and delegate our workload. The logistics of this required some organisation and compromise. However, this approach was hugely beneficial.

Crits are invaluable

One aspect of the course which is definitively team oriented is the crit sessions. This involved each of us presenting our content for our colleagues to critique.  

At the time of writing, we have just started to use crit sessions, but I have already found them to be invaluable. Having 10 pairs of eyes inspect my work revealed areas which I had overlooked.

It also provided possible solutions for areas which I was consciously struggling with. In one case by verbally explaining a piece of content, I discovered a clearer way to write the content. 

In the academy, we had a group of individuals working together to solve a problem. Each individual came at the problem from different roles, approaches and backgrounds.

To some extent, this mimics a workplace. The differing opinions and visions within our group prepares us to work with the input of others. As content designers, we will need to work with a variety of teams and stakeholders. Had we scattered to our home offices to work alone, then our experience wouldn’t have reflected the reality of working in content design.

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