The original idea for this project was to make it an online discussion forum. The idea was that the toolkit material would be presented and then the community would develop discussions about how to use it, best practices, ideas for new things to add to the toolkit and so on – in other words it would become an organically evolving system, with continuous user feedback driving development. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And as a web designer, the challenge of designing a well-structured, elegant and efficient forum was something I really fancied. In the end though, I talked Mine and Ursula out of the forum model, and here’s why:
Over a long enough period of time, most forums will tend to suck.
I appreciate that’s a generalisation. I can feel the knuckles being cracked as someone, somewhere gears up to type “I’ve run a forum on model trains since 1998 and it’s amazing”. However as a veteran of a few forums (yes, I know the correct plural is “fora”, no I don’t care) I’ve observed some negative trends that seem common to very many of them. There’ll be a whole other blog post on this soon…*
So, we collectively decided to present as much information as possible as part of the toolkit, have an “ask a question” function without all the freewheeling discussion of a true forum and then use social media to hold live Q&A sessions every so often. There is a facebook group open only to people who’ve signed up, and that will be used to hold live Q&A sessions once there are enough members!
In order to keep the toolkit easily understandable, we created a “three blocks of three” structure. There are three main sections – Education and Awareness, Practice, and Environments – and each of those has an introduction, a video page and a resources page where all the toolkit resources can be downloaded.
The videos explain the underlying concepts in each section and how to use the training materials. In some cases they also explain how other practitioners or settings are already using self-regulation, and what they’ve got out of it.
From the outset it was clearly important that anyone using the toolkit should work through it progressively rather than randomly jumping around, and it has therefore been set up as an “online learning” course using a Learning Management System called WP-Courseware. This means that the first time someone works through the material, they have to do it in order and mark each section as completed before they can move on to the next. Once a section has been marked as completed it can be revisited at any time, so users can go backwards to review something and once they’ve worked through the whole toolkit they can revisit parts of it in any order.
Users even get a certificate to download at the end to confirm that they’ve worked through it all!