SCAD eLearning Feedback Loop Redesign

Context

SCAD eLearning developed courses through a hybrid (waterfall/agile) process that spanned seventeen weeks. Department chairs were responsible for approving all course materials, but I noticed that feedback from chairs tended to come far too late and often required lots of rework to implement. Existing touchpoints for feedback needed to be reevaluated to account for chair responsibilities outside of eLearning development to make it easier for them to provide timely input into the process.

  • Audience: SCAD eLearning Team Members, Department Chairs
  • Timeframe: 3 Months
  • Deliverables: Revised eLearning Development Flow
  • Tools: Visual Timeline
  • My Role: Project Manager

Goals

  • improve the user experience for chairs in the development process
    gain critical chair feedback at points in the process that tolerated revision and iteration
  • foster a culture of iterative improvement and feedback

Approach

For this project, I considered the roles and responsibilities of our team, SMEs, and department chairs to identify valuable touchpoints for conversation and insight. I also considered the strengths and weaknesses of our existing process. By this point, I had developed nearly 40 eLearning courses, so I had experienced the pain points and bottlenecks in the process first-hand. With this information, I determined the fixed and adaptable points of the process.

Insights

  • Current chair mid-point touchpoints involved sending massive batches of draft documents to the chair, which lacked context and placed a significant burden of time on their schedule. (Who really has time to read through like 20 different Microsoft Word documents with long-form content and and assignments?)
  • The development process worked as a whole, but the chair touchpoints needed to be designed to foster a sense of “please collaborate with me” instead of “please sign-off on this.”
  • Department chairs wanted a seat at the table to provide guidance and perspective, which is precisely what the existing process did not offer.

Result

I consolidated the first and second-half course reviews with one in-progress chair review meeting at Week 7. At that point, the design team generally had a clear direction for the course, and yet all course documentation still existed in draft form and was relatively easy to revise.

Each instructional design team created a presentation for Week 7 that detailed the structure of the course and provided an overview of how the content topics and assignments aligned. The chair attended the meeting and was available for immediate feedback.

Diagram showing two versions of a 17-week timeline.

All other development milestones remained the same. The only change was redesigning the forum for gathering chair feedback.

2x2 grid showing the relative power and interest of stakeholders.

This relatively small change to the development process fostered greater engagement and interest from department chairs. Moreover, it gave them more power to speak directly into the development process. Ultimately, course approvals were much faster and were accompanied by fewer change requests of manageable scope.

Reflection

I enjoyed being able revise operational processes and relieve pain points for team members and stakeholders alike while creating gains like increased collaboration and faster course approvals. Revising a process is always about revising a culture. By considering the entire stakeholder network I made changes that not only improved our process, but also helped the department become more open and collaborative. 

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