Bob Bodily, PhD, Director of Data Science & Research
In January of 2020, we started an experimental community-driven continuous improvement project with a few of our Waymaker courses. This was the continuous improvement process we followed:
- We added a “Contribute!” button to the bottom of every content page.
- The “Contribute!” button sent users to a Google Document version of the page with comment and suggestion privileges turned on.
- Any student or teacher had the ability to write comments or suggestions in-context on the page.
- We monitored suggestions, provided timely feedback, and decided whether to include the suggestions in the course.
- If we included the suggestion in the course we would add the contributor’s name to the acknowledgments section. If not, we responded to their comment with an explanation as to why we were not taking their suggestion.
Throughout the first half of 2020, despite working through a global pandemic, we had an average of 20 community contributions per week. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the contributions came from mostly students! Students were finding small errors, areas for improvement in diversity, equity, and inclusion, or areas where they wanted more practice. The feedback we received was invaluable and allowed us to improve those courses. Due to this success, in fall 2020 we rolled out the process to all of our Waymaker courses.
During fall 2020, we received an average of 150 contributions per week across all of our Waymaker courses. Again, the majority of these were from students who found small text errors, pointed out difficult words to include in our glossaries, made suggestions to improve the diversity, equity, and inclusion of our course materials, and sometimes commented when they were having a hard time learning the material. We even saw a few students starting to collaborate in the Google Documents discussing a particular issue.
Thanks to this community-driven continuous improvement we have many students and teachers included in the acknowledgments sections of our book. Introduction to Psychology, for example, has 58 people listed in the Acknowledgments section of the course content, indicating that those individuals made a suggestion or improvement to the content that ended up being accepted.
We’re excited to continue making efforts to grow awareness and participation in our community-driven continuous improvement work. Our next initiative will be a half-day virtual summit. Anyone interested in being part of our community-driven continuous improvement work in specific courses will be invited to attend. The first half of the summit will consist of presentations and panels from expert teachers showing how they have done continuous improvement in their courses, and then everyone will get hands-on and dive right into continuous improvement, working on the learning outcomes our nationwide data shows students struggle with the most in a specific course.
Stay tuned for more details or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.