They Knew What Was Possible—and Made It Happen
Fanshawe College is no stranger to Brightspace technology. Wilson and her co-administrator Ryan Walmsley have worked together on the Fanshawe College version of the Brightspace platform, branded as FanshaweOnline
, or more commonly “FOL,” for years.
“Building the MOOC on the Brightspace platform was easy because we are so familiar with their learning management system,” says Walmsley. “Brightspace technology is flexible, so we knew we could be creative. We were able to inject some fun aspects you wouldn’t see on a university MOOC and give students meaningful options. We created a course that personalizes learning paths within a comprehensive structure—that’s what a great MOOC is all about.”
Color Levels Give It Game
The first step was choosing a subject with enough drawing power to give the MOOC a fighting chance. The Fanshawe team gravitated to the subject of sustainability in the areas of construction, architecture, design and urban planning. Not only is sustainability topical, it’s a passion of Wilson’s.
A masterstroke of their new Applied Sustainability MOOC—and what gives it the look and feel of a game—is that it’s designed in levels. The levels mimic Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, which is foundational to the field of sustainability. Green is for weekly quizzes, silver is for discussing specific topics, and students at the gold level take on tasks like a garbage audit. Platinum students do an extended project.
Levels allow students to choose how much effort they want to invest. “Comments show that some students see the levels as a kind of game they want to win,” says Wilson. “Others see the pressure of achieving a higher level as a motivator.”
Brightspace Technology makes it Personal
According to Walmsley, using Brightspace tools helps them engage on an individual basis with students to benefit retention. “We enabled intelligent agents
so that the system could respond to certain student actions—or inactions—without the need for manual instructor intervention in every case. We know that feedback is most valuable when it arrives quickly, and this tool helps us deliver individualized responses, including the final letter of completion, almost instantaneously.”
“Conditional releases help us liberate students from linear, cookie-cutter course design. By setting up ‘success conditions,’ we can automatically restrict information and activities until each student is ready.” He adds, “The result is a warmer, more personalized experience.”