Having just returned from our annual Fusion conference, I’m reminded of how lucky we are to work with such a diverse group of visionary customers. As usual, many of their stories were truly inspiring, and I was humbled just to be in the same room with these leaders of change.
What’s most interesting to me is that each defines its own success: the bar is high and it keeps us innovating.
You may have heard about U-Pace, a program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) using the Brightspace platform as the foundation for an innovative new approach to online learning. Their success has been outstanding: the “disadvantaged” U-Pace students earned a greater percentage of A’s and B’s than the “disadvantaged” students in conventional courses by over 170% (See footnote below for more info. Source: “A White Paper on Optimizing Desire2Learn for the U-Pace Instructional Approach, 2013,” UWM).
Much of what makes U-Pace so successful is enabled by the functionality of Brightspace technology. It’s rooted in how instructors monitor student progress—and it’s the reason U-Pace instructors can deliver timely, tailored support through Amplified Assistance.
“The conditional releases are easily set so that students can’t move on until they demonstrate mastery. You can see the number of attempts that a student has made on a quiz then the high score is recorded in Gradebook. As well, communication tools are used to monitor and respond to the students’ behavior. All of these things are done through the Brightspace platform,” says Dylan Barth, Interim Associate Director (now UWM Learning Technology Consultant), Learning Technology Centre, University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
We realize there are many factors that came together for UWM to achieve the results that they did, and that the increases in student success are not all attributed to their use of Brightspace. However, we do believe that our technology played an important role, and they seem to believe it as well.
So why are we interested in measuring things? To improve education, we need to measure. To improve technology, we want to measure customers achieving their goals. For our customers to achieve successes like U-Pace, we need to focus on metrics in everything we do. We do this by starting from development, through implementation, and with constant improvement. We want to build solutions that make a difference—by measuring, improving, and most importantly, by listening to our customers.
How We Share Stories of Customer Success
Everyone wants more from education and training programs—so it’s critical that our customers are part of the process of measurement and constant improvement.
At Fusion, our customers came together to share new ideas and practices to push education forward. They like to hear about the amazing results, like U-Pace, which we post on our website. In our excitement to share the great results our customers are seeing through their programs, we didn’t always provide the details around the results. When we make mistakes, it’s our job to fix it—as we are doing now.
We have a Customer Success Program in place where approvals from our clients are acquired before we post anything about them. Stories are revisited every six months to make sure that they’re still valid and accurate. However, a recent customer success story was mistakenly posted on our website without their permission or knowledge. We will be doubling down on our efforts to help ensure that this doesn’t happen again, and we will work harder to provide citations for all the facts.
Make no mistake, we’re extremely proud of what our clients are accomplishing. Our customers’ innovation, dedication, and just plain awesomeness is making a huge difference—and we’re proud to be a part of it. We will continue to measure and improve our offerings, listen to our community for suggestions, and when warranted, share their results. Here’s to them!
1Disadvantaged students are defined by U-Pace as “students from low income backgrounds eligible for Federal Pell grants or disadvantaged from conditions associated with racial/ethnic minority status, specifically African American, Native American, Hispanic, and Southeast Asian students.” The percentage of disadvantaged students earning A’s and B’s in U-Pace courses was 179% greater than the percentage of disadvantaged students earning A’s and B’s in conventional courses.
|A %||B %||Total % A & B|
|Disadvantaged students in U-Pace courses||23.66||7.61||31.27|
|Disadvantaged students in conventional courses||3.22||7.96||11.18|
|Difference in percentage points||20.09|
|Percentage increase over the base rate of 11.18||179.7%|