[DG: Teaching & Learning] site templates
Ricci, Margaret P
mricci at indiana.edu
Tue Dec 14 12:23:43 PST 2010
This is an interesting question and actually a bit more complicated than it might seem. At Indiana University we just changed the default template, and it has had some unintended consequences.
Here's a little background. We have had a default template for several years that had a lot of tools on it - at least a dozen. It was kind of busy, and there were things on the default list that most faculty had no idea what they were. Then there were several other tools that could be added using Site Info (Site Setup in our instance). Last year, as we were getting ready to unstealth the new Assignments tool that we had been working on for a while, we started discussing how to handle rolling it out with respect to the default tools. We decided not to include an assignments tool on the default tools because it would force faculty to choose which tool they wanted to use for their assignments. They would have to go in and explicitly select one, and thus, they would have to learn what the new one was good for (using some information that we gave them). Well, this set off a long and hard-fought discussion about what should be a default tool. The first thing you learn when you set out to decide for people what tools they need is that you will never be right. Some people argued that we shouldn't put anything there but Home and Site Info. That way everyone would have to go in and decide exactly what tools they wanted to use. We were in agreement that we wanted to cut down on the "noise" we had with so many default tools, but there were many and varied opinions about what were the necessary core tools. In the end, we paired down the list somewhat and rolled it out. I have since spoken with a number of faculty who assume that we have removed tools and that Oncourse (our Sakai instance) just doesn't do those things anymore. They still have no idea that there are many tools that are available that don't show up until you go looking for them, even though we used several communication channels to tell people what was coming.
We also created a special template for one particular school that only does online courses. In this case, the courses are designed by instructional designers and taught by instructors with rather limited permissions, so they knew exactly what they wanted. They don't allow their instructors to add or remove any of the tools.
I can't even imagine how long it would have taken to decide on tiers of templates that have descriptive names. I'm not trying to be pessimistic here or belittle the process we went through, but no matter how carefully you craft your templates and name them, plenty of people will be confused. Do your best to communicate, be ready to answer a lot of questions (and possibly take some heat), and understand that there will be lots of people who don't fit into either of your standard templates.
Good luck and let us know if you hit on the perfect tool combination.
Margaret P. Ricci
Principal Instructional Technology Specialist
Teaching and Learning Technology Centers
Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning
Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education /
University Information Technology Services
307 Ballantine Hall
Indiana University Bloomington
Bloomington, IN 47405
mricci at indiana.edu<mailto:mricci at indiana.edu>
From: pedagogy-bounces at collab.sakaiproject.org [mailto:pedagogy-bounces at collab.sakaiproject.org] On Behalf Of Khan, Salwa
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 10:22 AM
To: sakai-user at collab.sakaiproject.org; pedagogy Learning
Subject: [DG: Teaching & Learning] site templates
We are in the process of selecting tools that would be included in two templates we would like to offer faculty to simplify the course/site creation process. One template would be a "standard" template with basic functionality that includes Announcements, Home, Mailtool, Resources, , Roster, Site Info, Site Stats and Syllabus. An intermediate template would include these plus Assessments, Assignments, Forums and Gradebook.
Is anyone using templates like these and if so, could you share the list of tools for each template you offer? Also what do you call your templates?
Thanks for any assistance you can provide.
Coordinator, IT Projects
Texas State University
Instructional Technologies Support
sk16 at txstate.edu<mailto:sk16 at txstate.edu>
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