How Allo saves time and reduces complexity for course creators and instructors: a long-lived learning experience for students

By Allo Team Mar 28, 2021
Mar 28, 2021
Allo is not just an online whiteboard. The other tools I tried simply duplicated a physical whiteboard experience, which, while useful, is not very innovative. For course creators and instructors, Allo provides a seamless transition between course creation and course delivery. For students in onsite classes, everything is lost when the class is done—unless they took pictures of their work. With Allo, not only is there a referenceable record that remains, it captures every step of their experience throughout the entire class. It allows me to create a combined synchronous, asynchronous, and experiential learning experience using one easy-to-use platform!

Introduction

Agile is an iterative approach in software development to reduce the time-to-value for an organization and its customers. The principle creator at AdaptiveOrg Inc. has been helping organizations apply Agile principles and build adaptive strategies for the past 20 years, and most recently, by moving to online courses and workshops to bring it to a global audience.


Challenges:

  • Having to use multiple tools for course setup and delivery, making it difficult to mimic an in-person delivery and collaborative experience
  • Collaboration tools that mimic large whiteboards in design concept but lack the simple “walk the wall” experience of the real thing
  • Not being able to structure the whiteboard experience to match the course structure by using the same patterns, creating a more natural flow between course materials and exercises, rather than being a seamless visual representation and flow
  • Being able to create an entire experiential course in one place that becomes a referenceable record for students—long after the course has been completed
  • Lack of a platform that enables course creators to easily create templates for new courses that can be used over and over for each new cohort

Solution:

All the tools Larry had tried previously did a great job of mimicking a physical large whiteboard but did not create a great online collaboration experience for students. “There is obviously value in these tools for certain uses, and like all the frameworks we have to pick from, everything tool is deficient, some less so,” said Larry. “I just found the deficiencies of the whiteboard-only tools outweighed their usefulness for online student course delivery and student collaboration.”

Larry found Allo’s ability to provide logical structure and patterns essential for his students’ learning process. Not only can information and content be presented in a visually-appealing and organized manner, they’re easily navigable as well. It means he can create an entire course in one place, including course content and student exercises, so both he and his students don’t need to constantly switch between tools during a class. It saves time, is less complex, and is a lot easier to manage during class time—especially for single instructor delivery.

Organize everything in one place

AdaptiveOrg’s Lean-Agile Strategy approach has six Plays. Each Play has pre-workshop materials that students need to study before the start of each workshop. The pre-workshop and workshop canvases are templated for the course, so each new course cohort can be set up quickly and easily.

The Workshop canvases are part slide deck and part exercises so both instructor and student can seamlessly move between both during the class without moving between tools. The simple Kanban board view for the course modules makes course navigation simple and easy to follow for both instructor and student.

With other tools, it is not uncommon to need two people for delivering an online course—one to instruct and one to manage the tools and guide students in switching between them. Allo enables the instructor to easily manage the student experience without additional help.

Larry starts by first creating a project for the course. Each module in the course corresponds to a Kanban column for each of the Plays in Lean-Agile Strategy, along with a Course Introduction and Course Wrap-up, for a total of eight columns. Under each column are the unique canvases for each workshop in that module.

The canvases in Allo allow different contexts to be presented visually and flexibly. Larry designs the course materials and exercises with images, videos, PDFs, Google files, etc. With Allo, he can easily drag-and-drop everything into the canvas and preview them directly. All the information can then be arranged and displayed to make it easy for students to follow and prepare for the next set of workshops.

A small—but not minor—feature is the icon you can add for a canvas header. Larry uses the icon as a course GPS, where the icon is his framework with each Play’s color code, used for highlighting which one the student is currently in. It serves to both help with navigation and reinforce the framework structure for students.

Display complicated information in an understandable way

Before creating a new course instance, Larry saves each canvas as a template that can then be easily duplicated in a Allo project for an upcoming cohort of course workshops. Allo also provides structures within the canvas in addition to the kanban boards. Unlike some of the other visual platforms with an infinite board, Allo uses the page format— an aspect that is much more logical for Larry and his students to prepare for the workshops and then to follow along that aids both instructor and student.

He uses the pages to divide the workshop into different sections and topics and then gives each page a title. This allows his students to easily understand the outline and navigate during the live online course without getting lost. It also reduces the learning curve for new instructors to deliver the content and creates a more consistent student learning experience across cohorts.

Allo really tries to solve many of the nagging problems with live online course delivery and student collaboration,”  said Larry. “I had never seen something that truly was purpose-designed to support real-time student-to-student and instructor-to-student collaboration before finding Allo.”

Besides being easy to use on the first try, students get a running view of their progression in applying Lean-Agile Strategy concepts throughout each subsequent workshop. The work they did in each of the workshops is retained as they move on to the next one. This means that when they go back later—sometimes weeks after the course was completed—they are able to see how each concept is applied and how each subsequent concept builds on the preceding it. Larry adds there really is no other platform that does this, nor is there one that makes it so easy to set up and create this kind of immersive and lasting student learning experience that puts the course content and the work they do in one easy-to-reference source.

Everyone learns differently

Every person has their own unique way of learning that works best for them. Some prefer to read on their own. Some prefer to hear. Some prefer hands-on. Some prefer all three. With Allo, Larry can meld different approaches to learning in one place.

There’s an old axiom in learning that if you see it, hear it, read it, or experience it in any combination for seven times, it’s yours. With Allo, Larry can create the environment for the seven times effect to happen.

The learning does not stop when the course is finished

One of the many challenges—not just with live online course delivery but also with classroom delivery—is the content from the exercises students worked on is lost once the course completes—unless students take pictures for in-person courses and place the screenshots online. Furthermore, even if you do capture it, the exercise content has no context—it is absent of the course content that gives it relevance. It is also difficult to capture the steps you followed as you built out your understanding of the content being taught.

With Allo, Larry and his students can go back into the course content—and the content they created in the exercise—to further enhance or refresh what they learned during the course, long after the course is completed.

Course creators can keep the class project open to the cohort after the class is completed. They can also have students download a PDF of each canvas and its pages to keep as a permanent record to refer to shortly afterward.


Another advantage for course creators is the ability to easily bring on new instructors and maintain a relatively consistent experience for students.

Results

Before Allo, Larry conducted workshops using multiple tools and platforms that split the course content from the exercises, creating a disjointed learning experience. Now he can easily pull everything into one place with a precise, organized, and engaging structure. Larry and his students no longer need to jump back and forth between so many different tools or spend countless hours learning how to navigate within multiple platforms.

The end result is a more engaging, collaborative, and visually-appealing final product that offers further usability well into the future.

“It’s just the ease with which it all comes together!” - Larry Cooper, AdaptiveOrg Inc.,

About AdaptiveOrg

AdaptiveOrg Inc. (AOI) is a Canada-based boutique strategy consultancy and educator with a growing global network of consulting and education collaborators. Its educational arm can be found at www.LeanAgileStrategy.com.  AOI uses Allo for all live online course deliveries as well as for structuring client engagement workshops.

An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.

- Benjamin Franklin -

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