Design Features of Online Teacher Professional Development: A Design Case for Re-Developing the EdHub Library to Improve Usability and Alignment of Content with Teacher Standards
Date Published: June 2021
Leung, J. International Journal of Design for Learning, Volume 12, Issue 2 (2021), Pages 79-92Source
Purpose of the paper
This paper examines the design case for redeveloping the EdHub professional learning library in 2017-2018. The paper analyzes the user experience with the first generation of EdHub and discusses the design decisions that were made for the second generation of the library.
The EdHub Library enables teachers to access resources online and plan for professional growth based on self-identified professional development or PD recommended by their school administrator.
Findings that informed design case
In 2016, NEE surveyed teachers about their use of EdHub and asked administrators to voice their perspectives during NEE’s annually required evaluator training. Feedback from the teacher survey and in-person training sessions with administrators identified the following themes:
- EdHub’s navigation and usability needed to improve.
- The platform needed to be accessible to all NEE schools without a login and user registration.
- There were privacy and sharing concerns that needed to be eliminated related to teachers’ EdHub journal entries.
- The platform should be maintained in-house.
Search analytics data from the first generation of EdHub also informed design decisions for the second generation. Analytics showed that users performed specific searches related to the NEE teacher indicators (e.g. 1.1, 1.2, 5.1 instead of actual words) and particular processes for professional development (e.g. professional development plans, units of instruction, classroom observation videos, and student surveys).
Overall, the second generation of EdHub encapsulated five design decisions in the development and testing of two prototypes and two user testing sessions:
- Visual priority of elements. This involved previewing all topics from the library homepage and their alignment with teacher indicators, accessing instructional modules in two or three steps, and recognizing the location of materials with breadcrumb navigation available in all pages of the library.
- Ease of navigation. The navigation structure changed from a sequential navigation scheme to a hierarchical structure, which allowed users to navigate the library in three steps or less with consistent alignment with teacher indicators.
- Browsing materials by teacher indicators. Consistent with the way users found materials in the first generation, a design decision that carried over was a listing of materials by teacher indicator. Teacher indicator sitemaps enabled users to find specific professional development with alignment to indicators regardless of the type of professional development activity.
- Searching across multiple content topics. A search engine allowed users to look for information based on keywords of interest. This feature enabled users to locate materials across multiple topics and modules without consideration for the alignment with teacher standards.
- Consolidating module activities, resources, and reflection within a single page. Instead of using multiple pages, the components of an instructional module were logically laid out in a single page that includes learning objectives, activities and tasks, and resources.
Design changes improved accessibility and navigation through the use of visual cues, multiple ways to search for materials, and popular materials bookmarked at the top of the homepage. Users can now open a professional learning activity in three or fewer steps. Bringing EdHub under the hood of the NEE Data Tool made access to the library exceptionally simple.
The design decisions implemented in the second generation of EdHub support the self-regulation activities of teachers and school administrators as they acquire professional development.