This week I’ve made some small (but hopefully effective) changes to the user interface of the Instructor side of our Course Reserves website. Todd, Brian, Kristin, Mary Morgan, and I have been working to improve the workflow of faculty adding items to Course Reserves over the past few months, and we’ve made some headway with other user interface changes as well as the addition of a whole category of help topics for faculty.
Todd has reported several instances of faculty creating new classes when they meant to copy items from a previous course. Ares, the software behind Course Reserves, doesn’t make this especially easy, so I changed a few things in the user interface to make it a bit more intuitive.
First, I added a “Clone course” link to each class in an instructor’s list. This way an instructor doesn’t need to select a course to get the course menu before cloning. I also updated the help entry on cloning to match this new workflow, although the old way still works for folks who are used to it. (For the curious, here’s the jQuery function that adds the new links.)
Next, I added an alert at the top of the “Add a New Class” form letting faculty know that they can copy a previous course to the new semester.
In the coming weeks, I’ll also be modifying the “Add New Class” button and link to help direct faculty to either cloning an existing course or to creating a new one from scratch. Since this isn’t an operation that happens frequently, an extra step in the workflow shouldn’t be too troublesome, especially when the alternative might be support phone calls to Course Reserve and waiting days for the team to manually copy your items over.
Last, I wanted to make sure that faculty to easily access the new help content for adding items and courses. I haven’t crunched numbers, but Todd and Brian have said that the small changes we made in how we communicate Course Reserve instructions has led a lot more folks to manage their courses from the website, but that will mean a lot of new questions as people explore these workflows for the first time. Having help front and center is essential to making this transition, and we hope that a prominent “Get Help” menu will be the first step in integrating this help.
In the next few weeks I’ll also be working on a few other changes to Course Reserve:
In October or November we’ll be conducting our first faculty usability test of Course Reserve, to see where else we can improve. If you know of anyone who is interested in participating, let me know!