Rethinking the Lesson Plan Creation & Updating Process

Tl;dr: Some contributors express confusion when attempting to contribute to lesson plan creation. This post aims to look at how we can improve that experience by documenting the barriers experienced by these contributors, raising additional questions for the team’s consideration, and making suggestions for consideration on how to move forward.

What barriers are the team seeing?

Since June of last year, we’ve seen about 1-2 lesson plans reach publication per month. Alongside those accomplishments, we’re also seeing a number of inconsistencies being flagged in our documentation around the process, and new contributors voicing apprehension about getting involved. 

I’m sure that together we can work toward some good solutions for folks, so I’ve listed the inconsistencies I’ve picked up from contributors below for consideration:

  • There exists conflicting information on creating lesson plans:
    • The Workshop on Creating a Lesson Plan is inconsistent with the Lesson Plan and The Handbook (How to Submit a Lesson Plan Idea).
    • There are three different lesson plan style guides, two from the Training Team Handbook (here and here), and one that exists as the GitHub Issue template.
      • The format in the GitHubGitHub GitHub is a website that offers online implementation of git repositories that can easily be shared, copied and modified by other developers. Public repositories are free to host, private repositories require a paid subscription. GitHub introduced the concept of the ‘pull request’ where code changes done in branches by contributors can be reviewed and discussed before being merged be the repository owner. issue template is the correct one to follow, but that is more a template, not a step-by-step detailed guide to putting together a lesson plan.
      • This Lesson Plan Style Guide linked on the How to Conduct an Instructional Review page here seems to be a more effective guide on how to fill in the details of each section but doesn’t include the updated items from the template. Getting that style guide updated would require an understanding of what’s required for the new sections, and including details there.
  • There are steps without any documentation:

Additional questions for discussion

These additional questions can branch off into their own respective posts if needed, but as they relate to the current lesson plan process, I’ve included them below for consideration as well:

  • What is a reasonable turnaround time for content reviews, for the purpose of keeping contributors motivated and eager to come back to do more? (41 are currently awaiting review)
  • What is a good goal to set in regards to lesson plan publications? (We currently do not metrics noted in the team goals, and since the How to Create a Lesson Plan workshop was created on June 14 2021, there have been 22 lesson plans published on Learn)
  • What can we do to ensure that this process is inclusive? (Ranging from diversity of submitters, to published languages, etc)?
  • How long should it ideally take to design a lesson plan from start to finish?
    • For those of us who are writing lesson plans, what’s working for you? Where are some places you’ve gotten stuck and why?
    • For those of us who want to write lesson plans but aren’t, what’s an obstacle in your way?
    • Team reps, what do you absolutely love about our process? What steps are essential in the designing of lesson plans?

Process improvement recommendations for discussion

Of course before launching into solutions, it would be helpful and great to also hear from other training team members and our Reps about what they like, why they did what they already did, and what they want to see change. 

The suggestions listed below are to help start fruitful conversation about what was flagged above:

  • Set a metric goal for lesson plans to help us sustainably tackle the backlog
  • Decide if the steps with missing pages are necessary, optional (nice to have), or should be deleted
  • Review, simplify, and consolidate the “Creating a Lesson Plan” guides in the Handbook, Workshop, and GitHub; reducing link-outs where duplicative
  • Shorten and Simplify the ‘Development Checklist” in Github
  • Identify ideal turnaround times for each step in the production -> publication process