Learning Modules (LMOD)
Learning Modules is a Learning Management System (LMS) developed at MIT from 2013 – 2015.
The modulesPermalink to “The modules”
Our project team built MIT’s second-generation Learning Management System. We consisted of fifteen people divided into three groups: QA and customer outreach, backend/API, and UX/UI. I was the team lead for the latter. Here’s a listing of the modules we made.
- Membership manages course members, teachers, students, staff. The data syncs with the system in use at the registrar’s office. Additionally it allows for communication with the class, groups, TAs, etc.
- You@LMOD the LMS is very content-centric; based around types of data. This was my attempt to create a chronology of the types of data across the students courses so it would match their syllabus. Here, the student can keep tabs on all their courses and calendars.
- Dashboard is to the course administrator what you@LMOD is to the student. A place where they can get everything done. Adding announcements, materials, assignments. Everything deeplinked into the originating module.
- Calendar informs students about due dates, exam times, and various events. Calendar UI exists within the course context, in addition to a “global” calendar to combine all of them. Naturally, students can subscribe to the calendars.
- Gradebook for creating, scheduling and grading of assignments, tests, exams.
- EWS advisor is used by advisors to identify students who may need additional support.
- Forum is a themed instance of phpBB with an API built on top of it.
- Materials contains all the files for the course: syllabus, assignments, projects, etc.
- Course guide allows students to see what courses are on offer for a particular term.
Bringing it togetherPermalink to “Bringing it together”
One of the issues we uncovered by our research was how cumbersome it was for students to keep track of data spread across different systems. This is an issue beyond our project, but it served as a reminder to respect a basic tenet of interaction design:
Navigation through the functions or features of a digital product is largely excise.
Alan Cooper et al., About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design, Fourth Edition, 2014
Students should be able to see what’s added, what’s changed, what’s due, … without having to go look for it.
To this purpose, I designed a timeline interface which pieces together the data across modules and subjects. It provides a window into the now, the proximal future and the recent past. Everything a student needs to stay on top of their academic life.
Design systemPermalink to “Design system”
Amongst the first things I did when I started leading the LMOD team was to establish CSS guidelines and establish a design system, it was instrumental in achieving consistency in our patterns. Clarity obviously trumps consistency, but consistency often helps clarity.
Post-mortemPermalink to “Post-mortem”
The project was frozen soon after its release, as it looked like our department had decided it didn’t want to be in the LMS business. I’m proud of what our team accomplished—it was a good group, but LMOD is alpha software, and still had a lot of maturing to do.