What worked. The instructors seamed to like the challenges and did attempt them several times. The team members worked very well together to build great courses. All instructors reported they learned new things about the LMS.
And what didn’t. My immediate feedback from the group was the instructions to get started were not clear enough. And as a result they felt they were behind to start with. It was clear after the first week that team member abilities with the LMS and course design were no where close to even. As a result of that the idea of team totals based on the challenges would be unfair and eliminated.
And what worked with modification. Changes were requested early on in the way challenges were run. Originally challenges were available up until the time the team members meet face to face. Everyone asked that they remain open so they could continue to take them. Also, the challenges were originally setup to display only the scores of the challenges and they all wanted to know what they got right and wrong.
What will change next time. The challenge points will be changed from a team score to individual score, with the opportunity to earn badges along the way for them. A desired team score is still needed so the courses designed will be evaluated using a modified version of blackboard’s quality course rubric. The rubric score will give each team a score. Also, the idea of random points from the challenge is being removed.
So this is what I came up with. I designed a blended course where instructors would work together to build a course as a team. It is a three-week course that covers the aspects of course design. The first week is course organization, navigation and content creation. Week two looks at assessment. Then the final week is spent on communication and collaboration. Participants were giving the role of an instructional designer on a team building a fictional course. They were provided information about course durations, student demographics and course learning objectives.
Each week the team was provided a list of objectives to complete on the course. Week one was to design a course navigation structure and course outline for content, then to begin collecting or creating content within the course structure. To help with the tasks at hand the instructors were provided tips and suggestions, both pedagogical and technical in nature. Every instructor had the opportunity to receive additional tips and suggestions by completing knowledge challenges on the features and functions of the LMS. Challenges were designed in three levels of difficulty, with more difficulty challenges earning more points and thus opening more tips and hints. There was also an opportunity to randomly earn bonus points by taking the challenges. Each instructor would work independently with the planning part of the task then the group would come together and finalize their plan and actually build that part of the course in the LMS.
There were some decisions I made based my research into game theory and my previous experiences. Fist the course material would not be on a subject the instructors were familiar with. The idea was to get them away from their preconceived notions of how to teach that subject and be open to looking at other parts of the LMS. The course topic was basket weaving. Second, challenge points earned by team members would be combined to create a team total, in an attempt to foster competition. Along these lines, instructors were able to take the challenges at any level as often and as many times as they would like to better their score.
I looked at obstacles I have faced in my current training. Faculty were resistant to looking at new features, saying that would not work in my discipline or what I have works well enough. I also had faculty continue to struggle with finding support resources. It also felt from a support role faculty were getting the how to steps of the LMS, but not the why they should do something. Also from the feedback I got from students many faculty were missing key best practices and pedagogical principles of the online tools they were working with.
So I dug into game theory and found some tips that I found very helpful. The first was the idea of a role. If I could get the faculty to step outside the role of instructor and have them look at the course design process as an instructional designer they might just see the course and learning objectives in a new way. They would not be limited by their current set of LMS tools. I also though the idea of designing for someone else would help them get past those barriers. Other things I know I needed to address was the idea of levels of experience the ability to allow for mastery, an element of chance or randomness, a level of interactivity, the ability to earn rewards and to provide realistic feedback that is instructional. I know if people fail, they want to know why.
As I look back at the Learning Management System (LMS) Training I have done for the last several years I find many flaws. The LMS has gotten so complex it is impossible to cover all the tools and features that a faculty may or may not use. It is hard enough to get faculty to sit through training and if you are throwing things at them they don’t think they want or need you lose them. The result I have found are faculty that continue to use only the features they are comfortable with and only change as students demand it or the changes in the LMS require it.
What I needed was a way to get faculty out of the mindset of updating their skills for their course needs and think more broadly about what the LMS has to offer and then to select the tools and features to meet their pedagogical needs. You know make them an active participant in their learning. I wanted to encourage them to explore resources and develop ideas to address the learning objectives of the courses their were teaching. To address this I decided on a game, but how to turn the LMS Training into a game?