Weinschenk & myCourses Go Hand In Hand

For this assignment, as I read each section of the Weinschenk chapters, I began to think of something that I could personally relate some of these theories to. What did I do everyday? Where did I go that could illustrate these ideas? I went back into myCourses to find the specific information for this week and that’s when it hit me: myCourses.

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I log on to this website everyday and each time, it gives an example of a different theory or principal that I just read about.

For starters, progressive disclosure. If I logged on to myCourses and immediately saw all of the information and details and links to each assignment for the 5 classes I am in, I would be overwhelmed to say the least. Progressive disclosure provides only the information people need in that moment and allows them to go into further detail by clicking (should they want to). When I get to the homepage of myCourses I am greeted with the tab “2161 Fall Courses” and underneath is a link to each class. With that link I find the information I need by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page such as “Content” or “Discussion” or “Dropbox” or “Grades” etc. and then I go from there. I’m not overwhelmed with all of the information at once, and it’s easy to navigate around the website and clearly shows me how to get from one place to another.

In the section, “People Are Driven To Create Categories” I learned that people will naturally create categories. If there are no categories already established, people will create their own. We do this to make sense of the world around us when we feel overwhelmed with information. MyCourses is set up in a way that already takes care of that potential issue before it even starts. Each class is separated and the information related to each one can be found only in that section. It takes away the anxious feeling of having everything jammed together.

As I read the section “Time Is Relative” I noticed that Weinschenk mentions that time is related to progressive disclosure. If people are going through a task and have to stop and think about each step, they will feel as though it’s taking too long even if it’s not taking up that much time at all. When navigating through myCourses, it doesn’t matter how many times I click to get somewhere, as long as I feel like I’m being productive and getting to exactly where I want to go and finding what I need.

The last thing I want to relate to Weinschenk about myCourses is from the section “Unpredictability Keeps People Searching.”

He states, “When something happens that is not exactly predictable, it stimulates the dopamine system. Think about electronic devices. E-mails and tweets and texts show up, but you don’t know exactly when they will arrive, or who they will be from.”

This, along with The Pavlovian Reflex immediately made me think of that little red circle that shows up at the top left of the screen on either my “messages” image, my “notifications” image, or my “comments” image. I never know when it will show up and who it will be from, but every time I log on to myCourses, I find myself waiting to see if there will be a little red circle on top of any of those images.

Whether I’m waiting for the results of an assignment or an exam or I just want to know who responded to my discussion posts, I get to my homepage and if I don’t see a red dot, I’m let down, but when I do, I become anxious and excited and click it immediately to see what notification popped up.

If I’m expecting certain results from something, I will consistently check throughout the day. If there’s no red dot, I become annoyed and more anxious as I (try to) patiently wait for my grade back. If there is one, a rush of nervous butterflies flutter through my stomach and I click on the dot.

This red dot has actually caused a reflex in me to the point that every time I get to my homepage and whether I see it or don’t see it, I have a physical reaction.

There are many more examples of how myCourses can relate to the theories/principals/studies that Weinschenk mentioned in his chapters, but these were the ones that stuck out to me the most. Overall, myCourses is a great example (specifically to RIT students!) to use to illustrate these ideas. 

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2 thoughts on “Weinschenk & myCourses Go Hand In Hand

  1. Great post! I too get that Pavlovian Response when I log onto myCourses. I’m hoping that little red dot isn’t an assignment notification of something I forgot to do! It’s really interesting how something that is so prominent in our lives can have so many of these psychological examples of how we think. I’ve always thought of myCourses as not the greatest designed site, but maybe it’s better than we think! It does do a great job at categorizing or giving you the customization to categorize. I always pin my current classes so they’re even more accessible to me (and fewer clicks away!)

    I noticed one more thing in myCourses that follows Weinschenk’s principles, specifically “People are motivated by Progress.” I love that myCourses checks off content modules as you visited them and tells you how many you have left until they’re completed. That tiny bit of affirmation sometimes keeps me motivated to keep completing homework tasks!

  2. Wow. I did not think of that until I read your post and comments. I now understand why I do not like my other college online platform. I am taking an online class at another college because I ran out of immersion classes to take at RIT. The other college (Santa Rosa Junior College – SRJC) is one of several top junior colleges and I am very familiar with SRJC, anyway SRJC’s online platform is so different than RIT’s myCourses’s platform. I wish I could share a screenshot of how it looks like with you so you could evaluate for yourselves and realize how much myCourses follows Weinschenk’s principles. SRJC’s online platform it is very simple and sadly it took me a bit of time to learn how to navigate because I was (and am) spoiled by RIT’s online platform. The appearance is almost too plain and much simpler yet it is pretty easy to navigate (not as may clicks and their discussion board lists all previous and current discussions on one page). After a week or two, I finally decided as long as I am doing good and will graduate on time, I was more than willing to learn how to effectively navigate two completely different online sites. Great post!

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