Learning from Failure
In designing and delivering an asynchronous online training for teachers in my district, I failed to understand the importance of several key factors to the successful launch of a course. The first training launched in the spring of 2012, and I used my MacBook Pro© and Google Chrome© to build the course in our district LMS, Blackboard©. When teachers began taking the course, there were a lot of complaints that the system was difficult, that videos did not play, or that links mentioned in the course were not appearing on the screen. As I researched these issues, I discovered the following:
1. Google Chrome© is not a supported browser for Blackboard©.
2. Internet Explorer© 7 was an obsolete browser for Blackboard©, but was the predominant default browser on all teacher use computers at the time of launch.
3. Participant computers needed updated Flash© plug-ins to play videos.
Needless to say, these issues greatly frustrated the participants, many of whom were not confident in their abilities to use technology and therefore felt defeated by the training.
Fast-forward one year and the latest roll-out of the training contains some useful introductory information concerning expectations for the course, navigation directions, and technical requirements. I have used familiar symbols to guide my learners through the course since many of them are new to online learning. Similarly, images of the log-in page with browser check requirements are posted. Our Blackboard© Administrator actually added the browser compliance check after feedback from me in the first training roll out.
Content from Blended Learning Training: Roadsigns to Point the Way
Throughout this online course you will see signs and directions similar to the question mark sign to the left. A guide for all the signs in the course is shown below. Note that some signs point out the direction you will need to scroll to see the next piece of the training, some point out informational text, others show where a particular action is needed on your part, and finally there are signs to indicate the end of a portion or the end of the course.
Read through the information below to note the method for directing you through what you should do each step of the way.
Roadsigns used in this course.
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, (2009). United States road symbol signs. Manual on Uniform Control Traffic Devices (MUCTD). PDF Retrieved From: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/services/publications/fhwaop02084/index.htm
Make your first impression a good one!
In an online course, there is only one chance at a first impression. As I designed this course, careful consideration was taken to address the analyzed needs of my learners. As an added level of review, I asked my neighbor who is retired, aged 69, and not a computer user (except for looking up motorcycles on Craigslist) to navigate the course and provide constructive criticism. His honest thoughts as he test-drove the course helped show me areas that were unclear to an objective participant. This new and improved version launched in April 2013 and has received reviews that clearly show that learners are engaging with the content instead of the helpdesk!
|Screen shot of the landing page of the orientation, a fun character greets the learner, directions are provided on next steps, and narrative text is available to support universal design for learning.|