Creative content management: Importance, novelty, and affect as design heuristics for learning management systems

Rudy McDaniel, Joseph R. Fanfarelli, Robb Lindgren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: This paper examines creativity in content management (CM) by presenting a case study analysis of an original, open-source, web-based learning-management system (LMS). It explores existing literature and suggests new ideas about creativity and CM. Research questions: How can we conceptualize creativity in relation to CM? How can creativity be operationalized into specific design practices within CM? What dimensions of creativity should be considered when designing or evaluating creative CM systems? Situating the case: Theoretical research in content-management systems (CMSs) and LMSs has revealed a gap in our field's current understanding of how creativity relates to CM. Research studies related to the measurement of creativity have provided insight into characteristics and methodologies that could be adopted and adapted to evaluate creativity in CM. Studies from the learning sciences have investigated where LMSs fall short and suggested where new opportunities exist to better facilitate the informational needs of users. These works have pointed to a need for research on integrating creativity and CM, both in content and in the systems that manage content, and have laid the groundwork for this study. Methodology: This research investigates theories of creativity as they relate to CM by conducting a case study analysis of unique instructional software designed to deliver content to students enrolled in a university course. The primary evidence is taken from notes about the design and evaluation of the software and from survey data illustrating students' user experiences. About the case: We developed a classification strategy for exploring creativity along three dimensions-importance, novelty, and affect-And then used this strategy to explore a unique system's approach to deal with content challenges in each of those areas. User experience impressions provide evidence of successes and failures of experimental CM in these domains. Conclusions: The study finds that this original LMS design did contain features that exhibited novelty, importance, and affect, and that such features can be used to identify creativity in product design as well as to assess the design of complex software systems such as CMSs and LMSs. This detailed analysis of an original design for an LMS suggests new ideas for implementing and using CMSs and LMSs in technical communication. The study concludes by presenting a rubric for evaluating creativity in CMSs and LMSs, or for designing such systems with creativity in mind.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7857835
Pages (from-to)183-200
Number of pages18
JournalIEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Affect
  • Content management
  • Creativity
  • Importance
  • Learning management
  • Novelty
  • Software analysis
  • User experience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Industrial relations
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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