Present a challenge.

Is there a specific issue or problem you want to tackle in Open Research and Education? Here's a chance to share it with the OpenCon Community and work together on designing a solution.

What do we mean by "challenge"?

For the do-a-thon, we're encouraging participants to think about problems in terms of "How might we?" statements. This type of framing can encourage us to think big, consider multiple perspectives, and focus on a variety of possibilities rather than fixating on a pre-determined solution.

We're asking you to define the challenge you're working on—really understanding what the hurdles are—before jumping straight to a solution. This helps avoid the situation of designing a product that doesn't actually address the heart of a problem!

Some examples of challenge statements could look like:

How might we create offline Open Educational Resources that can be used and adopted in regions without steady internet connection?
How might we increase the rewards associated with preprint publishing?
How might we make Open Educational Resources more easily editable to better serve local contexts?

See the full list of challenges your fellow community members have put forward here.

Steps for Submitting a Challenge

1. Make sure your proposed challenge is related to Open Research or Open Education.
We go through a simple review process to make sure all the challenges for the do-a-thon are related to Open Research and Education. If you'd like to learn more about these issues, perhaps watch some of our videos introducing the issues.

2. Come up with a "How might we___?" statement for your problem.
Make sure to explore the challenges others have already submitted to ensure we're not proposing the same problems twice. (If you do see a similar challenge - consider joining forces with them!)

3. Submit your problem statement for review through our Google form.
This allows us to go through a super quick review process, and provides us with some metadata about the challenge you've proposed.

4. Wait for instructions via e-mail on how to share more about your challenge on Github.
Github is a platform for open source, collaborative working. We'll be using it as a space to manage do-a-thon challenges and projects. This is so others can discover it and contribute! We do this through Github "issues", where each issue will act as a mini discussion thread for each challenge you want to collaborate on. Please follow the email instructions carefully so your challenge is listed properly on our page.

If you don't already have one, you'll need to create a Github account (top tips: try and use your name as your username, you only need the free plan, and you can skip step 3).

5. Your challenge will now be discoverable on our Do-a-thon Challenge page.
Now, others will be able to easily find your challenge and contribute! Please check out our tips for leading challenges, as well as ourdesign thinking resourcesthat will guide you through designing a solution to your problem statement.

Tips for Challenge Leads

Be a respectful facilitator and challenge lead. As a challenge lead, we ask you pay special attention to our Code of Conduct and be welcoming, enthusiastic, and patient with contributors. And of course - remember to thank them for their contributions!

Document your process and update your Github issue frequently. This allows for remote participants or newcomers to stay updated on your challenge progress. Doing a design thinking activity on paper? Make sure you take a photo of your sketch and upload it to the issue. Make sure to document whatever conversations or progress is happening somewhere online. If the conversation is moving off the original Github thread (e.g. onto a Google Doc or Slack), be sure to include a link to wherever that's happening in the original issue, in case new folks want to join your project!

Familiarize yourself with some design thinking resources. These tools are meant to help you better understand your challenge statement. Who are the people involved? What forces are influencing the problem? Having this understanding can bring us closer to a solution.

Write clear guidelines on how people can participate. Be specific about how people can help and get in touch. Is there particular skills or expertise you're looking for? If your project is regionally based in a non-English-speaking region, let people know in your contributing guidelines what language you and contributors will primarily be communicating in.

Keep in mind that there are people participating both in-person and remotely!. If you're at the in-person meeting in Toronto: Be as inclusive as possible to those outside the room. In your guidelines, give clear instructions to those participating in the do-a-thon remotely on how they can keep up to date and contribute. If you're leading your challenge remotely: use your contributing guidelines to let people know that this is a remote project, and that you'll be communicating with contributors online! Let other participants know what the best way to get in touch with you, where the work will happen, and where any updates or outputs will go.

Still have question about this before the do-a-thon starts? Send an email or feedback to Joe[at]sparcopen[dot]org.

Design Thinking Tools

Design thinking can help you build a solution through first understanding your problem from various perspectives. Learn how to design a simple prototype of your solution that you can test and continue building off of after the do-a-thon. The complete OpenCon design thinking introductory slidedeck can be downloaded here.

A printable toolkit with exercise templates for the day-of can be accessed here.

The design thinking tools will walk you through three key steps:

1) Map the System

Understand the system your problem is situated in—sketch out the users and institutions involved, the flow of resources.

2) Know Your Users

Better understand the various people involved in the system, who they are, what their needs are, and what barriers they face.

3) Design a Solution

Based off your user and systems research, design a solution. Learn how to create & test a simple prototype.