E-Course Trial | Leveraging Lessons and Implementing Improvements

It’s no secret by now (we hope!) that Claims Class is launching e-courses in 2017 and, over the past couple of months, we have been running a trial of our first e-course, a Construction Claims Intermediate E-Course.

Running the trial was definitely a worthy exercise. We gained some great feedback from our students and learnt some valuable lessons ourselves, all of which have gone into improving the course and creating the final version. In this blog, we explore the trial process, share the key takeaways and showcase the final version of the e-course.

The Trial

The trial included 18 students from all over the world who agreed to complete the course within a given time-frame and provide feedback on each module as they progressed through the course. When the trial ended, we had gathered 108 feedback forms that gave us key insight into the following areas:

Online registration and payment – how easy was it for students to register and pay the course fees?

Navigating the student website – did students easily access the student website and was it easy to navigate and find the course content?

Quality of the course content – did students think the video tutorials, case studies and additional resources were of a high standard?

Understanding of the module assignments – did students understand the assignments and were they confident in their approach to answering them?

Quality of the assignment grading system – did students understand the grading system and were they happy with a) how their assignments were graded and b) the feedback from their tutor?

Student communications and administration – were students happy with the overall administration of the course including confirmation and tutor support?

Leveraging Lessons

So, how did we do?

Let’s look at the areas above, one by one.

Online registration and payment – 88% of trial students were either satisfied or very satisfied with the registration process.

Navigating the student website – 90% of students found the student learning area either easy or very easy to access and navigate.

Quality of the course content – Overall, students were happy with the quality of the course content and were pleased that they took the course.

Understanding of the module assignments – this was an area flagged for improvement.

Quality of the assignment grading system – this was an area flagged for improvement.

Student communications and administration – 88% of students were either satisfied or very satisfied with the confirmation of registration to the course, the details received about how to access the course material, responses to queries, etc.

Implementing Improvements

Let’s recap the two areas flagged for improvement:

Understanding of the module assignments – students felt that the module assignments did not contain enough explanation or guidance to help them confidently tackle each assignment and compile a confident answer.

Quality of the assignment grading system – students felt that the grading structure for each assignment was not explained which left them unclear about what to focus their effort on when preparing their assignment.

Funnily enough, we realised on reading this feedback that we had not listened to our own advice! Look at this extract from a paper we wrote on how to write an effective claim narrative:

Many people do a good job of presenting the bare facts, but fail to explain what the facts actually mean in terms of the claim and do not lead the reviewer to the conclusion that is desired. This is very dangerous, because if the claim does not clearly tell the reviewer what the outcome of the claim should be, the reviewer may very well reach a totally different conclusion.

Whilst this extract is clearly focused on writing an effective claim narrative, the principles can also be applied to the module assignments for the e-course. Feedback told us that we only gave students the bare facts and did not fully explain what they had to do to submit a strong assignment. In doing so, students could have gone completely down the wrong path (don’t worry, we slapped our own wrists!). Similarly, students felt that the grading structure was not clearly explained and were unsure where to focus their effort when preparing their assignments.

So, what did we do?

We went back to the drawing board, added fuller explanations of each assignment AND gave guidance on how to approach the assignment. We also included a breakdown of the grading structure and the % weighting given to each section of the assignment. For example, the Module 1 assignment originally looked like this:

Assignment

Consider the contract administration systems on a project, or projects, on which you have worked. Identify their strengths and weaknesses with regards to the management and administration of claims.

Give specific examples and discuss how they affected the project either positively or negatively. These may be different or similar to the typical examples discussed in the module. In the case of weaknesses, illustrate how they could be improved.

After implementing the improvements, it now looks like this:

Assignment

This module has discussed some examples of contract administration for claims including contract documents, programmes and planning, records and claim strategy. Of course, there are also many other matters that must be considered to ensure the avoidance of claims and their effective management if they do occur.

Consider the contract administration systems on a project, or projects, on which you have worked. Identify their strengths and weaknesses with regards to the management and administration of claims.

Give specific examples and discuss how they affected the project either positively or negatively. These may be different or similar to the typical examples discussed in the module. In the case of weaknesses, illustrate how they could be improved.

 Assignment Guidance

We are looking for your discussion to consist of around two pages, and to specifically deal with the strengths, weaknesses and improvements that could be made to overcome the weaknesses. Contract administration for claims is important from both the contractor and the employer/engineer’s point of view, so it does not matter which side of the fence you are familiar with. For example, if your project did not have an agreed baseline programme and this affected how extensions of time could be calculated, then this would be a weakness. Suggested improvements from the employer’s side could consist of making the submission of a baseline programme a contractual requirement or, if you are a contractor, to ensure that you prepare a baseline programme and formally submit it to the Engineer.

Assignment Grading

Grading will be as follows:

Overall content (does the assignment answer the questions?) – 40%

Positive examples – 20%

Negative examples – 20%

Suggested improvements – 20%

 Reflecting on the Trial

The trial has been a great way for Claims Class to test our venture into the world of e-courses. The constructive feedback given by students told us what we’ve done well and what needed improvement and, having now made those improvements, we’re confident that this new direction is going to be a good one, for us and for you.

Now accepting students on both the Construction Claims Intermediate E-Course and the Construction Claims Basic E-Course. Check out our e-courses.

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