Adoption Planning: Creating Success Case Stories that Motivate and Inspire Further Brightspace Adoption
Authored by: Holly Whitaker, PhD, Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L.
As campus-level change leaders responsible for achieving the levels of Brightspace adoption you want among your faculty & instructors, you know that faculty trust other faculty more than they trust you. That can be a harsh reality, but it's true that birds of a feather flock together.
How do you build trust and spur adoption among this group that you're not really a part of? Simple - find the faculty birds with the feathers you're looking for, and other birds of a feather will follow. To do this, use a simple approach to building success cases detailing how a few key instructors have had success with Brightspace, then build a communication campaign around those success cases.
To build success cases, I like to use Robert Brinkerhoff's (2002) Success Case Method. This is an easy method to find out what's really happening with Brightspace on your campus, what results are being achieved with Brightspace, determining the value of those results, and deciding what can be improved upon. You can use that last element - what can be improved upon - for process improvement and for the ultimate goal of your success cases: improving adoption of Brightspace among faculty & instructors.
There are five steps in this model. I will give a high-level summary of each step and connect each step directly to a quick action you can take to build a library of success stories that you can use to spur adoption on your campus.
First, Plan Your Success Case Study Approach
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is as true with success cases as it is with education technology change initiatives. If you're a solo act, discuss your plans with your supervisor or a trusted ally. If you're on a team, enlist the help of key team members to identify why you're pursuing the development of success cases.
On the surface, it seems that the only reason you need is to use success cases for an internal adoption campaign. However, you might also need to go through this process to determine whether the Brightspace initiative at your campus is "working", according to your institution's definition. If it turns out that there are multiple goals for your success cases, be sure that you're planning to collect the data you need to prove your point.
How to start planning today
In your Brightspace success case planning session, discuss the following questions:
- Once you get the success cases, who are the primary and secondary audiences for these?
- What information do those audiences consider trustworthy?
- What specific area of Brightspace practice are you focusing on?
- What kinds of faculty users are you looking at?
- What's your time frame for finishing these?
Second, Define What you Mean by "Success"
It's difficult to find something if you don't know exactly what you're looking for. "I'll know it when I see it" does not count here. Detail an ideal success model specific to a tool or pedagogical practice. Think about how that Brightspace tool would be used in a perfect world. Imagine how a pedagogical strategy would be perfectly boosted by using a specific Brightspace toolkit.
The more specific you can get with this, the easier it makes the next step in the process.
How to define success today
Define success by asking yourself or your team these questions:
- What Brightspace tool could we zero in on?
- Is that tool or a small suite of tools used in a specific pedagogical strategy like CBE or blended learning?
- If Dr. Perfect Professor was using that Brightspace tool or strategy in a perfect manner, what would that look like across the life of a term/semester?
- What kinds of data would you need to be able to identify Dr. Perfect Professor as a success case?
Third, Scan Brightspace Data for Both Success Cases and Struggle Cases
Now that you know what you're looking for, it's time to go find it in the data. You'll probably look in Tool Usage Statistics in the data hub or other places if your data model is more complex. If you have Performance Plus, you can look at your Adoption Dashboard for this information,
If you discover that what you're looking for is difficult to find, go back to Step 2 and clarify your success model, focusing your search on specific tools within Brightspace.
Look for high-level usage of a specific tool or a small suite of tools used for a pedagogy strategy. Identify the top 10% - 20% of users of that tool, then dig deeper into their courses to see how they are really using that tool.
In this process, you'll also look for the lowest level of users - what I called the Struggle Cases in this section's header. You might not want to do anything with them now, except note that they are in fact using the tool. They'll become valuable players in this strategy later.
How to scan for success cases today
In Data Hub, or in your Adoption Dashboard (for Performance Plus users only), look for:
- High levels of tool usage of the specific tool(s) you're targeting
- The usernames of the top 10-20%. This percent will vary depending on the size of your faculty. Larger faculties will likely need a smaller percent, smaller faculties will need a larger percent.
- Navigate to their course area to see for yourself how they are using those tools. Use your judgment about their actual use of the tool(s) in question as to whether to take the next step with an individual on your list.
- You want approximately 5-7 individuals, maybe as many as 8-9 to carry you into the next step of the process. If you just have one, that's OK, too.
Fourth, Connect Personally to Gather Detailed Information for Success Cases
There's only so much that data can tell you about how a faculty member is using Brightspace tools. Once you're narrowed your search and seen these courses for yourself, it's time to connect personally with the individual instructors of those courses. Be sure to take note of what department the instructors you're going to interview are from - it's nice to include this detail in your success cases as it helps other faculty members connect with the stories you're sharing.
In the email you send to ask for a meeting, tell them the reasons why you're asking for their time. This goes back to the planning step, so have your purpose clear when you ask for an instructor's time, or they are unlikely to give it willingly. Let the instructor know that they will have final editing rights to the success story, so they are perfectly aware of everything you are going to say about them.
This "interview" phase can be the most time consuming and most rewarding part of the process, so give yourself time to enjoy it. Take good notes because this will be the source of your success case developing in the next step.
How to gather detailed success case information today
In your interview or conversation with your instructors, ask questions like these - that all point toward adoption:
- What are the benefits of using the tool - for students and for you?
- How did you first get the idea to use that particular tool?
- What did you find easy when you were first getting started?
- What difficulties or challenges did you have to overcome - and what resources did you use to overcome them?
- What are your thoughts on the results your students are achieving?
- What would you have to say to other faculty members who are considering using this tool?
Fifth, Develop Your Success Case Stories
Hopefully, you got to interview around 5 individuals who have given their consent for you to use them as a success case that will be used with other faculty members to spur adoption on your campus. This means that you get to create 5 different success cases.
Use the questions from your interview to frame a five-part story: Inspiration, Benefits for students and/or instructors, An Easy Start, Challenges, Overcoming the Challenges, Student Results, Testimonial
Good success cases can be all text or one simple slide in a PowerPoint. If you do have the privilege of working with a graphic designer, experiment with design, colour and layout to maximize the impact of the story with screenshots, tables, pull-out quotes and other stylistic elements to highlight the important points. For example, see figure 1.
Remember, the reason you are taking the time to collect these success case stories is that there is power in shared expertise - faculty will respond to hearing stories about the experiences of their colleagues more so than to messages from administrators that seem to be asking them to do more work.
Figure 1: Success Case for Flipping the Classroom with Brightspace
How to develop your success cases today
- Organize your interview notes according to the story you want to tell about the Brightspace tool you are writing the success case for.
- You may or may not have good information for each part of the five-part framework mentioned above. That's ok. Go with what you do have.
- Develop the files you'll need for when you talk about these stories to the audiences you identified in the planning phase. These can be text-only or more complex designs.
- Enlist an editor or someone else to read through your stories to see if they make the point you're aiming for: to spur adoption. The best editors are people from the target audience - faculty members. Seek trusted faculty members to give you feedback so you know you're on point.
- Before you distribute final versions, always allow your interviewees to give final approval on each version (text, slides, fancier versions)
- Remember to keep your success cases short and sweet - stories conveyed in a single PowerPoint slide (or other simple formats) that concisely showcase how a faculty member is successfully using a tool, and the benefits they've gained as a result, are most effective.
Disseminating your success cases
Remember the struggle cases we identified earlier? Here's where they come back into the picture.
Select one of the success cases to send to the struggling group as part of the first wave of your communication campaign. Ask them where they are stuck and hold office hours to help them get results similar to the success case instructors.
A good success case can tip the scales of the adoption decision for faculty members who are on the fence about adopting Brightspace tools. Remember that 50% or more of your faculty look to other faculty members at your institution for cues about what innovations to start using. Success cases from your own faculty members are a key strategy to spurring this middle group of adopters along the right path.
Check out the
- Adoption Planning Series: Get Started on the Right Path as Quickly as Possible
- Establishing Your Minimum Viable Learning Experience Toolkit
- Setting Desirable and Realistic Brightspace Adoption Goals
- How and When to Roll Out New Brightspace Tools
For more ideas on how to build and grow the usage and adoption of Brightspace, check out the Higher Education Adoption Playbook:
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