Author Topic: I don't think it's great.  (Read 5576 times)

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Coley

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I don't think it's great.
« on: August 17, 2012, 01:55:37 PM »
BG: I teach college courses online, and I have developed several online courses for my department. Courses are revised every few years. One of the courses I developed is currently in the revision process, and I am working with two staff from the institution's online department to complete the revision.

Tasks are divided based on expertise. There is a "specialist" who reviews the revised material to ensure it conforms to the institution's standards. There is a technology person who ensures the material will be delivered effectively in an online format and who handles much of the online design. My job is to create the course content.

I have had some difficulties with this process in the past. I find that decisions are made regarding the course design that don't reflect the topic or content of the course and in some instances conflict with what I'm teaching.

End BG.

We are early in the revision process for one of my courses. Today, I received an enthusiastic e-mail from the specialist saying that the technology person created "a great banner" for the home page of my course. She asked me to look at it and let them know what I think. I looked at it. "Great" is not the word I'd choose. It is a pretty photo with the title of the course splashed across it. But the photo has no connection to the content of my course. Let's say that I teach a history course, and the photo is of flowers. Or that I teach a business course, and the photo is a mountain scene. It's just a random, pretty photo. If I taught a course related to tourism, this photo would be great. But I don't.

I have seen other courses with fabulous banners that have a direct connection to the course content. For example, a course on the Civil War might have a historic battle scene in the banner, or a biology course might have a photo of a microscope in the banner. I would prefer something that relates to my course. This is the first image students will see when they enter the course, so I hoped for something more pertinent to the topic.

Given that the specialist and technology person think the banner is "great," how do I reply to them and say that this isn't what I had in mind? I know that some effort went into this banner, so that is weighing into my concerns about responding.

(And I'll admit that I tend to see flaws in systems and processes. It seems that it might have made more sense for the specialist and technology person to see if I had any ideas or specifications for a banner before it was created. Maybe I need to shake that part off.)

(Edited to correct an editing error on my part.)
« Last Edit: August 17, 2012, 02:00:48 PM by Coley »

artk2002

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2012, 02:03:17 PM »
The first question to ask yourself is this: "Is this a substantive issue? Will having puppy dogs on the banner hurt my students or the course in some way?" If it is a substantive issue, you go back to these two and give your specific reasons why the banner isn't good.

If it's not a substantive issue you then have to decide whether the cost of objecting is worth getting it changed. You depend on these two people for a lot of stuff. If you make an issue of this, will it help or hurt you when something of real substance comes up?

For instance, let's say you object to this banner and get into a long exchange with these two, with the result that they grudgingly do it your way. Next the technology person comes up and says "I've got a great idea! We'll go with dark grey text on a light blue background. It's beautiful!" Now you have to fight a real issue (that combo is entirely unreadable by people with limited vision) and you've used up a lot of your "fight" on the banner.

In other words: Pick your battles. Is this a hill you want to die on?
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

QueenfaninCA

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2012, 02:05:02 PM »
I'd reply that it looks great but you would prefer a picture that has a relationship to the course material as you think otherwise students might be confused.

NotTheNarcissist

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2012, 02:06:42 PM »
Something along the lines of "I know a lot of time and attention was put into this banner graphic & I do appreciate that. However it doesn't really convey the tone I was hoping to communicate. Would it be alright if I submit a few graphics that are closer to my goal? I am open to discussion if that is an option."

NotTheNarcissist

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2012, 02:09:24 PM »
I think art has a valid point. If its not a hill worthy to die on, there is the option of telling the students the banner wasn't your first chioice & do their best to ignore it if they find it distracting.

cicero

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2012, 02:10:51 PM »
is this banner the finished product, or is it an example of "how a banner could look"?

If it's the finished product, and you think the photo is unsuitable, then just be upfront:
"I love the way the course name splashes across the photo - it really grabs you! and i think the font is/isn't perfect. However, the photo doesn't really match the course and I would like to change it. I am attaching three suggestions - please try them out in the banner and send them to me for review."

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NyaChan

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2012, 02:11:14 PM »
"I think the design idea for the banner is great.  Here are my suggestions for what to use as a picture:  "

Mikayla

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2012, 02:24:06 PM »
I like the idea of providing alternate photos and then maybe suggesting they pick one and insert it into the banner.  Even before getting to the end of your OP, I was thinking the same thing - that this should be a joint effort, or something where you'd get input before anything is finalized.  Actually, I can see where all 3 of you have some kind of "ownership" of the banner.

That's why I don't totally agree with Art.  The readability of the text is the sole responsibility of the tech person, and presumably that person knows how to do his/her job.

Hmmmmm

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2012, 02:25:17 PM »
"I think the design idea for the banner is great.  Here are my suggestions for what to use as a picture:  "

This was what I was going to suggest.  Just make it seem like you believe the photo attached was a place holder till one that fit your course could be identified.

bah12

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2012, 03:26:28 PM »
I really like this idea and I think the design format is great.  My only comment would be to use a picture that relates to the course.  I've included some suggestions of what pictures we could use, but if you find something else, I'm open to other ideas.  Thanks for putting the effort into this.  I really appreciate it.

doodlemor

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 06:24:15 PM »
This is business, not friendship. 

If you don't think that the other staff is handling their parts correctly I think that it is fine to tell them in a polite way.

You could tell them everything that you like about the design that was submitted, and give them generous thanks and praise for the parts that you feel are right.  Then you could say that the picture will be much more effective if it incorporates something that correlates with the course content.


Coley

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2012, 06:54:03 PM »
Thanks, everyone. I appreciate all the input. I like Nyachan's suggestion, which would allow me to imply (subtly) that the banner is an idea and not a finished product. I spent a little time today searching for alternative images, and I'll provide those to the staff who are helping me.

platypus109

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #12 on: August 18, 2012, 10:38:08 AM »
"I think the design idea for the banner is great.  Here are my suggestions for what to use as a picture:  "

Absolutely.  Selecting a picture that works for you is an awesome idea, particularly as visual presentation (and the meaning behind the presentation) has an even greater impact an in online course.  I do something similar but I have control over every aspect of my courses including design.  I'm a bit "controlling" when it comes to my curriculum and I know I'm not alone.  While I'll give in to the need for a certain level of standardization, I wouldn't want a picture on my course banner unless it served a specific purpose! 

Coley

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2012, 12:29:11 PM »
"I think the design idea for the banner is great.  Here are my suggestions for what to use as a picture:  "

Absolutely.  Selecting a picture that works for you is an awesome idea, particularly as visual presentation (and the meaning behind the presentation) has an even greater impact an in online course.  I do something similar but I have control over every aspect of my courses including design.  I'm a bit "controlling" when it comes to my curriculum and I know I'm not alone.  While I'll give in to the need for a certain level of standardization, I wouldn't want a picture on my course banner unless it served a specific purpose!

That's exactly how I feel about it. The banners are standardized in every course to meet best practice criteria in course design. My understanding is that they are supposed to reflect the course in some way. If the banner is just a random photo, then I'm not sure it serves the intended purpose.

Zilla

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Re: I don't think it's great.
« Reply #14 on: August 18, 2012, 12:34:04 PM »
Being that you are in charge of the content, can you look up a photo you think best fits your course and then submit it to her with a note saying, "I love the font and design of the banner, here is a photo that correlates with my course.  Thank you!" 

That way there won't be endless back and forth of her trying to find a photo that you approve of.