The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Requesting your Use Cases...

A number of the digital content projects NACS is involved with on behalf of college stores have reached a stage where we require greater input and involvement from stores. To streamline the process of gathering input, we will be adopting a format for developing "use cases" that can be employed with several different groups. In this instance, use cases are stories about how people successfully and/or unsuccessfully complete transactions for digital content (e-textbooks, digital course materials, print-on-demand, etc.) through college stores. We are looking for college store volunteers willing to help us develop a set of use cases (individually and/or collaboratively) that we can use in response to requests from projects like the CSU Digital Marketplace, OhioLink digital textbook prototype, IMS' e-Textbook taskforce, in addition to others. Contribution of use cases is a critical process to facilitate college store input into future digital initiatives.

Use cases are a common modeling technique in systems development in which we identify stories or scenarios that capture the sequence of events that occur when an individual (actor) attempts to complete a process (in this case, a digital transaction through a college store). A use case answers a question, for example, "How do I (as a student) purchase digital resources for my biology class through the college store?" There are a number of scenarios by which this could happen. The use case breaks this down into the multiple possible scenarios and eventually into individual actions or events, along with the interactions required to achieve the goal. For example, one use case might describe the process by which students purchase content via "hang tags" with access codes. Another use case might describe a similar scenario where access codes are generated at the point of sale, either at the in-store register or online. Yet another use case might describe how students could purchase content using in-store print-on-demand technology. Other possible use cases might describe scenarios by which college stores could broker transactions for content provided through campus course management systems (e.g., Blackboard, WebCT, Sakai, Desire2Learn, Angel, etc.)

This is an opportunity for college stores to participate in defining and designing how we would like to see the transactions take place within our stores for digital content. We need individuals with store-level expertise and ideas about how college stores might be involved with such transactions to assist with developing these use cases. Most use cases are only a couple pages in length and at this stage they do not need to be completely detailed. The outcomes from this process will be used to help communicate to other stakeholder groups how college stores see themselves being involved in future digital content transactions. If you are willing to help develop the use case scenarios, even just one, please send your ideas to Mark Nelson, NACS' Digital Content Strategist (mnelson@nacs.org). Questions about developing the scenarios, or ideas you have for a scenario (even if you do not have time for scenario development), are also very welcome.

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