Not too long ago, Google came out with a Course Builder program, designed to allow schools and institutions an easy way to set-up their own MOOC platform. Today, I decided to take a look at the program to get a sense of their offering and what it can do. Naturally, I have some high expectations, I mean, this is Google after all.
The first thing that I did was navigate to the Google Course Builder “home”. Quite honestly, I couldn’t help be feel a bit overwhelmed when I came to this site. With so much information, it’s a bit hard to know where to start. It’s clear that Google has a specific target in mind with this page: developers (or at least very web-savvy). In other words, if you are relatively new to setting-up online training programs, then you will likely find the Google Course Builder page is not user-friendly.
The “Get Started” link (if you can find it) takes you to a rather cold, wiki-type page that details the entire program from start to finish. Again, great if you’re a developer, but not very user-friendly to the casual MOOC fan. I can’t help but wonder why Google didn’t make this a bit more intuitive. Even for a developer, it’s a lot to come up-to-speed with, but at least it is comprehensive.
I took a moment to look at some example sites made with Course Builder, and well… here take a look (some are in Spanish):
- Análisis estadístico con R
- Data Mining with Weka
- Data Privacy and Security
- Democracia participativa
- Dirección Hotelera
Perhaps it’s just me, but the success of a training program is more than the “bones” of the software, it’s the entire presentation. There is a lot to be said about user experience, and the setup that is currently offered by the out-of-box Google Course Builder program is about 10 years behind modern design theory. I think just providing some various templates would be helpful.
Google is certainly downplaying the importance of ease-of-use in regards to the adoption of the program. I think this is one reason why so many people turn to WordPress for their formal and informal learning programs. The ability to easily customize the site, implement a user-friendly design interface, and add functionality is second to none.
Now, to be fair, this entire program is very much in the beginning stages. It is obviously providing a useful way to build MOOC programs for some institutions, but they have quite a bit of ground to cover compared to other programs out there. Here’s to hoping that the development doesn’t go the way of Google Sites.