General Assembly Learning Experience:
3 Months, January - April 2018
Improving communication between instructors and curriculum creators
General Assembly is a highly-regarded technology school founded in 2011. The Global department of the school creates the syllabi for courses taught on all its 20 campuses; instructors for each course have the freedom to alter the material as they see fit to share their specific expertises and examples.
Scope of Work
Our research team was brought on to investigate an apparent disconnect between the global team and local instructors in the creation, delivery, and alterations of the course material. Global knows that instructors are adding their own examples and styles to the material they teach, and they want to understand out of all the changes made, which ones should be integrated into the global course materials.
Director of Instruction in the Global Department: provided initial connections with global team members
Department Chair of NYC UX Team: provided initial connections with instructors. Advised the team in research process.
Team members comprised of former classmates from a General Assembly UX Design immersive class in NYC. We chose to start small with our research to keep with the timeline and start with an area where we’re most familiar.
Our team interviewed part-time and immersive User Experience instructors on the New York campus, along with Global team members who create material and support the instructors. We made the decision to start focused with our instructor research – one department within one campus, and leave the option open to expand our research into different departments or locations.
Broad topics in interviews:
• Communication and support with instructors
• Creating curriculums
• Vision of the department and school
Broad topics in interviews:
• Thoughts on the curriculum materials they received
• Preparation for new cohorts
• Communication and support between other team members and the global department
Once we started with the interviews, we quickly realized we needed to make some changes in our questions and people we were targeting.
Questions had to be altered for the two sides of Global we discovered: those working more with curriculum creation and those more connected with the instructors.
We found that there were also greater differences than anticipated between part-time and immersive instructors, so we sought out more of each to interview.
In addition to the curriculum feedback issue, we discovered that onboarding of new instructors was a huge pain point, so we focused more of our questioning there.
General Assembly is a technology school with 20 campuses worldwide that brings industry experts into its robust community to teach adult students in fields such as user experience design, web development, and data science.
Our team was brought on to investigate the extent of an apparent disconnect between the global team and local instructors in the creation, delivery, and alterations of course material. Instructors are altering the course material for each of their classes, and the global team is often left in the dark about what the instructors are teaching. In addition, new instructors find the onboarding experience confusing and overwhelming as they are preparing for their first cohorts.
How might we facilitate more frequent and accessible feedback between instructors and the global team so that the materials taught are relevant and up to GA standards, as well as create a more structured and organized onboarding experience for new instructors.
To help locate trends and patterns from the qualitative and quantitative data pulled from interviews, our team transcribed the interviews responses to post-its and grouped them based on similarities. For the instructors, we then summarized buckets of post-its in the form of what are known as “I” statements; “I” statements help create a sense of connection with the main pain points and needs of the user.
Synthesized statements from immersive Instructors:
Synthesized statements from part-time instructors:
Personas for immersive and part-time instructors:
User Journey of immersive instructor:
For the Global team, since there was a wide range of roles interviewed, we summarized the buckets in the form of insights.
To start on the recommendations, we narrowed our focus to four main issues:
We wanted to create a solution that could be implemented quickly and without the need for a new application.
Onboarding of new instructors
New instructor is paired with a veteran co-instructor as an onboarding guide
Onboarding is increased from 1 to 2 weeks
Onboarding consists of course content + presenting of the content, and administrative tasks.
New instructor teaches at least one lesson for an existing cohort.
A collection of activities for lessons, housed in Google Drive. All instructors will be able to add to the collection, view + use any of them, and leave feedback on each one.
Curriculum Modification and Feedback
Learning Objectives are set in place for each lesson, and it’s important to keep them relevant and updated.
Each lesson will have a multiple choice quiz for all students to measure subject mastery.
Every 2-3 cohorts, the Instructional Designer and Lead Instructor will evaluate the curriculum to determine any changes.
New learning objectives are then created and sent out to all instructors.