However, one significant choice is whether the change is
- organization wide, and consistent across the entire organization
- or only being done by a few innovators, who then have to work out what they will introduce, how they will introduce it and what it will look like.
The first option is hard work and requires considerable experience, planning and commitment from the leaders of the organization. This is why it is uncommon.
Yet, business understands the benefits of consistency. They create a consistent experience across their offices/stores/etc. so that customers can focus on what they really need.
For example, all stores in a fast food franchise have a similar store structure. They want you to focus on the food (and buying it) rather than having to work out the layout of a store.
Supermarkets have a consistent floor plan; fruit and vegetables and delicatessen on the left as you enter, etc. in Australia. They want you to focus on finding the things you want (and thus spending money efficiently) rather than have customers wander around the store looking for things, and probably getting frustrated in the process.
Customers also win, as they can get what they want quickly and easily and (hopefully) don't get frustrated with the experience.
I have been working on organization wide change for may years. Part of this requires consistency of structure/look and feel in all courses in the online learning environment.
Thus, I have been rewriting the Style Guide for online courses ready for the start of a new academic year. We want (and need) all of our courses to look and feel consistent. If a student or parent logs in to any course, they should feel comfortable and familiar. They should be able to focus quickly on the learning materials rather than having to spend time trying to figure out where materials are. For example, if they are looking for information on the assessment required for the semester, it should be in the same place in each course, and each item should be consistent with the detailed information it provides.
This also liberates teachers. They are experts in their fields, but sometimes are not experts on online education. They are also often time poor. They deserve support so that they do not have to waste precious time trying to figure these things out. By providing these guidelines, teachers can focus on what they are good at; their mastery of their academic area and the success of their students. They should not be required to spend hours trying to work out a suitable online course structure and the design principles associated with this.
Thus, our Style Guide specifies things such as
- Course and topic structure
- File types to use
- Icons as navigation guides
- Image and video dimensions
- Conventions for links to URLs and files
- fonts to use (type, size, colors, etc.)
While there is latitude within these guidelines, the organization also achieves a consistency across all courses. In the end, this benefits everyone.