In 2018, we experienced a great deal of growth and for that we want to say, “Thank you!” With that growth, we have come to experience that the original platform we were using to host the site was failing us in two ways.
- It was slow: in June of this year, we made an investment to improve the performance of the site which helped for a short time. However, learners continued to report issues related to performance. Further investigations revealed that these nagging performance issues were related to the platform’s architecture.
- The user experience was sad: maybe way back in 2003, the CSP Fast Pass user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) were considered cutting edge, but no one – not us nor any of you – has been satisfied with the UI and UX of the site. We appreciate that you recognize the quality of the content of your programs, but Jason and I owe you a better experience of using and interacting with the site.
As I mentioned in the previous newsletter and as we have been sharing in the Coaching Circles, Jason and I are planning a migration from our current platform to a newer, more modern and faster platform. For the last few weeks, Jason and I have been migrating the content from the current platform to the new platform and testing the capabilities of the new system. We both like it a lot and we think you are going to like it too. Here is a list of the key benefits you will experience with this new platform.
- Faster and more responsive site – we all know the current look-and-feel of the site and how it performs. Once you see the new platform, you will agree that it is much faster and the UI\UX are more up-to-date.
- Better reporting – the current platform does not give much information on where you are in your program, what you need to-do in each course or what assignments need additional work. Multiple new reports will now show how close you are to completing your program, what assignments still need work and provide in-site notifications on any assignments that have been graded.
- No more workbooks – we heard this request from you, and it has been implemented in the new platform. Workbooks will remain as a downloadable resources, but are not required for any activity in your program.
- Improved commenting – one of the most frustrating activities on the existing platform is responding to our comments on incomplete assignments or assignments that need further work. With the new reporting and notification features of the platform, we fixed this problem.
- Better grading of assignments – some people have commented that Jason and I have not been clear on what our expectations are for the various assignments. Others have expressed frustration when we send an assignment back for further work and updates because they felt their submissions met all the requirements of the assignment. With the introduction of rubrics, we clarify exactly what our expectations are for an assignment, as well as the weight of our various expectations.
- Better surveys – so how is it that someone can “fail” a survey where there is no right answer? I don’t know, but the new platform fixes this bothersome bug of the existing platform.
- Improved Coaching Circle experience – in addition to enrolling in Coaching Circles, you can now unenroll (!). Plus, for Coaching Circles that are full, you will now have the option of putting your name on a waiting list.
- Actual collaboration tools – the new platform will allow you to chat with your instructors and other learners like yourself. In addition, you can send your instructors messages from within the platform, participate in a variety of instructor-led, and learner-led, groups to create community and share good practices.
- Audio or video responses – for browsers which support this functionality (Chrome and Firefox) instead of typing your response into a textbook or uploading files, you now have the option to submit a short audio or video of your response. That’s cool!
- Real mobile support – the new platform was designed to operate on iOS, Android and Windows mobile devices plus has apps for iOS, Android and Windows devices. Nuff said!
- And there is much, much more!…at some point I have got to stop writing this message and get back to the work of making sure the new platform actually works and meets your needs.
So when is this going to happen?
Our tech team recommends to roll out these changes in two steps: a short beta test followed by general release two weeks later. I wanted to do this before the end of 2018, but that was not reasonable expectation given everyone’s schedule. Based on our discussions with our tech team, the beta test is targeted to begin around the week of January 21st. If all goes well during the beta test, the general release will be on (or around) February 1st.
How can you help?
We need from five to ten volunteers for the beta test. During the two-week beta test, we will need you to use the new site to complete your various assignments and provide feedback. As a beta tester, we expect that you will complete at least two courses in those two weeks. Your experience using the site, submitting assignment and responding to our feedback will help us identify any bugs and\or missed features.