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Learnings from our Alpha Trial

Following our Alpha trial, Scrum Master Simon Pearson explains how the feedback from our first users will help the product team to refine the FutureLearn platform.

July 28 – Aug 11 was an exciting time for the product team as we introduced the first trial learners to FutureLearn. As Claire Davenport discussed in her blog last week, it was the first time the platform was tested with a good number of real learners, so we’ve been eagerly following the progress of our first intake over the past few weeks.
With a varied group of over 300 learners coming to the platform with different backgrounds and experiences, we hoped for some constructive feedback – and we’ve been thrilled with the response we received.

Food for thought
We’re still crunching some of the numbers regarding devices and suchlike, but given our drive to encourage social interaction, we’re delighted that a large number of learners participated in conversations on both of the trial courses we ran, reinforcing our belief that we’re on the right track with our approach to social learning.

Over the course of the two weeks, we received lots of constructive feedback, feature requests and ideas for improvements, with users voting for the features they’d like to see. This reinforces our prioritisation process and validates (or causes us to look again at) some of our early design decisions.

Feedback headlines
We’ve already acted on some of the ideas and bugs raised by learners during our Alpha trial. Looking at the remaining suggestions, a few clear themes emerged. Our delivery team has been putting their heads together to come up with solutions. To give you a brief flavour of the user experience challenges we’re working on improving:

–       How do we clearly show progression through a course effectively?
–       How do we show how long something might take to complete?
–       How can we encourage meaningful, productive conversations?
–       How do we encourage learners to make meaningful social connections?

There are plenty more challenges to solve and we’ll be continuously improving the platform as we go live through the Autumn.

I’ll finish with a few quotes from our Alpha testers:

“Don’t change a thing”

“I just wanted to say, at the outset, that I am enjoying taking this course, both in terms of content but also for the general experience of learning in a newish way.”

“It’s worse than Facebook, I can’t stop!”

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