Courseware is educational material intended as kits for teachers and students, usually packaged for use with a computer. For three years Intentional Futures team partnered with seven different CW providers through a Gates Foundation grant to improve the provider's services and increase usership. As a culmination of those partnerships, we created this workbook that captures the 10 most common challenges CW providers struggle with and solutions to address them.
Art Director / designer
Over the course of 3 years, Intentional Futures' Education team gathered a massive amount of research on what makes effective courseware. I personally participated in a handful of sprint-model working sessions to improve their teacher/student interaction models and decrease cognitive load for users.
High-level learnings like how to decrease cognitive load, on-boarding to a new tool, and creating collaborative environments for students were consistently surfacing. The education team spent a summer curating those high level themes into ten consistent challenges CW providers face. I entered to help the team turn those learnings into a useful tool for other CW providers to use going forward. Essentially - how could providers get the benefit of our sprint models using just their own teams?
My idea for a part-workbook/part-learnings guide began to take shape. Partnering with members of iF's edu team I built out a framework for the workbook and guidance for specific language around challenge overviews, exemplars of those challenges, and worksheets to identify those issues in a CW providers own tools. Because of our years of research we also had at our disposal great annecdotal quotes from both teacher and student users, and we made those a large focus of each section.
Journeymaps are a big part of highlighting pain points in a user's experiences using CW tools, and were a common deliverable in our work throughout the years. I wanted to fold the 'journeymap' idea into the workbook without having to map content to a literal timeline. Breaking the 10 Challenges into time-specific buckets proved to be difficult as they were so broad and touched on so many points on the timeline. We settled on two categories, "Setup and Onboarding" and "During the Course". An example journeymap (below) was included in the workbook's introduction.
The final book was 110 pages which included a summary of iF and the CW providers' collaborations, the 10 Challenges with related work pages, and 8 card activities. I created a decorative building block motif that was repeated throughout the book and onto pens and packaging. Additional layout assistance was provided by Kristenelle Coronado-Kaiser and Lyle Klyne
The back of the book included 8 "card activities". CW providers could use the 10 Challenges, each printed on a brightly colored postcard, in a series of empathy mapping, prioritizing, and cataloging activities meant to help them pair down their software's greatest strengths and weaknesses. A difficult part of addressing needs in CW specifically, can be the overwhelming number of items to augment or change. By engaging in these activities providers can theoretically create a checklist of needs, and create clarity across all stakeholders in their organizations.
The workbooks and cards were distributed at the Gates Foundation's annual Courseware Convening and recieved great feedback.