Aligning on a direction
Improving the platform's capabilities to eliminate square pegs and blind spots completely would be a long term effort. Redesigning the UI also was not an easy fix. But what if we could create something in the shorter term to to make things more efficient? We asked course authors for samples of their blueprint documents and found common themes. What if instructors designed their course with a blueprint built to prevent some of the design phase issues and could be uploaded to eliminate some of the repetitive building work? That would be a win.
We can improve the authoring experience by providing a blueprint template that...
- Meets instructors where they are without interfering in their process
- Helps prevent the square pegs and blind spots before they happen
- Can be imported to automatically to build a course skeleton and populate it with assets on our platform, eliminating a large portion of manual work
While some of the examples provided by course authors were in doc format, most were spreadsheets (Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel). That gave us the ability to embed logic into the template and use multiple sheets in a file.
We needed to start with the right principles to act as a guide to make sure we met the needs of our course authors. There were adoption risks if we didn't successfully adhere to them. We collaborated as a team to land on these three.
About how to use the template and about Coursera’s structure and pedagogical philosophy.
So it fit the current partner needs and workflows.
So it was easy to work with and could be a viable replacement for current design documents.
Getting the content right was going to be a crucial part of this project. I had an early version of our writing guidelines to refer to. Though it wasn't fully comprehensive, it contained a basic style guide that was enough to provide direction.
Writing for university partners
- Faculty and Instructional Designers who are engaged in representing their brand and content to the broader world
- Use clear, concise, honest, and informative language
- There is no need to be vibrant or uplifting