Adoption Planning: Establishing your Minimum Viable Learning Experience Toolkit
Authored by: Holly Whitaker, PhD, Learning Strategy Consultant at D2L.
When starting out with Brightspace, it's tempting to let your instructors find and use the Brightspace tools they want to use when they want to use them. However, this approach can be haphazard. Haphazard strategies can yield inconsistent results. Further, imagine the deer-in-the-headlights look on your face when your boss's boss asks you, "How's it going with Brightspace?" Then you start reporting your haphazard strategy and haphazard results. This report may not instil the confidence you're looking for from your leaders.
If you aim at nothing, you'll hit it every time.
To avoid haphazard results, we strongly recommend that you establish a Minimum Viable Learning Expectation (MVLE). This is based on the concept of the Minimum Viable Product, which is the idea that you can launch a product with just enough features to make people happy, but also learn-as-you-go to launch new features wisely.
Your MVLE is the Brightspace toolkit that your instructors will be expected to use. This will give you vital data to determine which new tools to launch in the future.
This article presents the steps you need to take to establish your MVLE.
First: Create your fantasy MVLE
Creating a realistic MVLE usually starts in one of two places. For those among us who like to continually raise the bar, it usually starts with the question, "What's the best-case scenario for the ultimate in student learning experiences?" For those among us who approach things from a minimalist perspective, it usually starts with the question, "What is the fewest number of tools can we realistically expect 100% of our faculty to use well - while still reaching students with a quality experience?"
Gather your team in a room with a big whiteboard. Think big. Dream expansively. Go at it like your sports team fantasy draft, "Here are all the tools you'd love to ideally have in every course - it'll be amazing!"
Create a list of Brightspace tools you'd love to see every instructor using.
And just like that, you've just created the fantasy MVLE. Don't get too attached to this first draft, or the next phase will be heartbreaking for you.
Next: Whittle it down to essentials
After you've created your first draft MVLE, take the devil's advocate position, "Can we do without that?" and "Could each and every course on this campus actually make use of that tool?"
Ask yourself and your team, "What evidence exists in the literature that this tool helps the student experience?" and "What specific kinds of student experiences does it help?"
If you can easily tear the list to shreds save a few vital tools, that's good. Let that shortlist settle for a few days. Come back to it, rehash your reasons for adding or removing tools from the list.
When the dust has settled, you'll probably have anywhere from 2-4 Brightspace tools that will be your final MVLE.
Example 1: During the transition to Brightspace, one continuing education-focused program discovered that more than 90% of their courses had some form of pre-test, followed by learning content and a post-test. Passing the post-test earned the learner a certificate of completion. Further, they determined that the other 10% of their courses also had post-tests and certificates, and could benefit from having some form of pre-test. From this analysis, they determined that their MVLE included Quizzes used as pre- and post-tests, content tools, and a release condition that triggered the awards tool to give all passing learners a certificate.
Example 2: During the transition to Competency-Based Education, one health-focused program determined that their MVLE included content tools, gradebook, assignments and rubrics to tie assessments into the competency tool - and that using other Brightspace tools was up to the discretion of the instructor and their teaching style.
Example 3: In one fully online program where they had documented that an increased amount of faculty-student interaction increased student persistence in that particular program, they determined that their MVLE included content tools, gradebook and discussions tied to rubrics so the faculty-student interaction could be part of the grade. They debated about the use of video to engage students, but decided in the end not to require it.
Most Brightspace clients use a combination of content tools, gradebook and a variety of assessment tools like quizzes, assignments and grade items. This short list could serve as your initial MVLE.
Then: Support the MVLE with training
Establishing an MVLE early on will drastically shorten your training agendas. Your sessions will be short, sweet and focused exclusively on the tools in the MVLE. No fluff, nothing extra. Of course, you can offer advanced training at a separate time for instructors interested in other tools. This will help you identify your innovative instructors, which will come in handy in the future.
Short training agendas paired with ample time for training will provide instructors with resources they need to work with their course content while your trainers are available to help 1-1.
DO THIS FIRST: Before the training sessions, ensure that instructors have Brightspace accounts and course shells so that they can login to the learning environment and start working right away.
After that: Establish focused reporting
I follow the maxim, "You manage what you measure." I like to add to that, "You manage what you measure - and what you report to the boss." Often, leaders don't know the importance of adoption metrics, but they lead to improved performance and build Return on Investment.
Examples of adoption metrics and the "why" of adoption reporting:
Example 1: During the transition to Brightspace, your focus is migration and training. Make it clear to your bosses and executive sponsors that migration and training lay the foundation for future ROI and harnessing the full power of Brightspace. Mention that in each report.
Report on migration by keeping your bosses updated on courses that have been migrated. Report this as a number and as a percent of the whole number of courses that will be migrated. Include a judgment on whether or not these numbers are on track to achieve your launch dates & other project milestones. If you're off track, include why you're off track and how you plan to get back on track or mitigate risk to the launch timeline in other ways.
Report on training in two ways. First, report the number of instructors attending training. Second, report on knowledge gained through training. You'll want to plan a survey or quiz at the end to gather this data. In that survey, include a comments area for instructors to leave their own feedback. Use this to add anecdotes and quotes to bring your numerical report to life.
Example 2: After your full launch, shift your reporting focus to reporting on MVLE adoption and usage. Make it clear to your bosses and executive sponsors that the MVLE tools will help your instructors use Brightspace effectively as quickly as possible and streamline service delivery from help desk and instructional design. Mention that in every report.
Report on MVLE adoption by locating tool usage reports in your Insights Dashboards or Tool Usage Statistics report in Data Hub for this. Report on the number of instructors using the MVLE. In your report, note how quickly those instructors got up and running with those tools. Begin collecting and sharing anecdotal feedback about how using the MVLE has changed individual instructor's teaching for the better. This will bring your statistics to life.
Establish either a monthly cadence or a cadence that follows the ebb and flow of your academic terms to report on the progress of your adoption projects with your bosses.
Once you've established your MVLE and your reporting cadence, it's time to set attainable and realistic adoption goals as you think about how these goals will impact training & support teams. The next article in this series will help you think through this step by step.
Check out the rest of the Adoption Planning Series:
Looking for more ideas and inspiration on how to build and grow the usage and adoption of Brightspace? Check out the Higher Education Adoption Playbook!:
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