Being involved with and working on a ‘greenfield project’ is an exciting prospect for any Software Developer, especially when that project is as innovative as MetaLearning Fusion. While there are countless e-learning providers in the market, and e-learning content itself being even more abundant, this material has always been rigidly packaged in such a way that much of it is not applicable to its audience.
Tailored. Branded. Assisted.
Fusion takes a step further to address this, allowing users to create, edit, and provision their own bespoke awareness courses. Combining videos, quizzes, short interactive pieces, and even their own video content, Fusion enables its users to assemble and compose content infinitely more relevant to its intended audience. This makes for an entirely more beneficial learning experience for end users, as well as making it much more engaging, and therefore more easily consumed.
As unique and exciting as the idea of Fusion was during its inception, it was also slightly daunting. From the beginning we were fully aware that few companies or individuals, if any, had ever tried anything like this, with regards to the idea of providing users with the ability to create fully customisable learning content.
Fusion allows users to potentially create a course, with multiple ‘sections’, each of which can include a mixture of multiple ‘elements’, using a blend of videos, knowledge testing quizzes, and SCORM-based interactions. All this, along with enabling users to potentially create this content in over 20 languages, made for an interesting piece of work.
Questions around the architecture to be employed, suitable technologies which could be utilised, and how the user experience would best play out were among the main topics for discussion. From my own perspective, having little to no point of reference within the existing MetaCompliance platform in terms of the desired core functionality, some of the most obvious concerns in these early stages were;
Potential challenges with the drag and arrange functionality;
- What technology/frameworks would be best suited to achieve this functionality and deliver as consistent and elegant an experience as possible for the user.
- Of these, which would be most compatible and integrate best with our existing software stack.
- How best to balance both the look and feel of, and the usability of this feature.
Challenges presented by the multilingual aspect;
- Identifying the most suitable method of mapping content together within courses, based on the languages they have been created in.
- Providing as intuitive a work flow as possible for our own provisioning to be able to upload and make available our content, quizzes etc.
- How the functionality allowing an end-user to choose which language they would like to view content in would manifest itself, and how best to deliver this.
Once we had begun to etch out an idea of how the main functionality of the new product should operate on a more granular level, we also began to map out and break up the required work into small, manageable portions. The term used for these work items is Product Backlog Item (PBI), which allow for a more controllable development process, where reactionary changes can be implemented more easily, making full use of the Agile Methodology.
Throughout the project there was naturally a great deal of participation from the UX/UI team. I believe that this is evident in the released version, where both teams worked closely, attempting to maximise the ease of use of the product, as well as providing as relevant and valuable an experience as possible.
Naming the Baby.
Finally, when we were asked to have a think about potential names for this new product, I personally had a short brain-storming session, centring around the idea of bringing together different components to create a standalone entity.
fusion noun, often attributive
2. a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole
Available at https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fusion
‘Fusion’ was at the top of a somewhat short list, and eventually chosen as the name. As our CEO told me when he heard it, “You even got to name the baby”, a privilege not even afforded me after the birth of my own son!