In 2000 Steve Krug wrote a book “Don’t Make Me Think“, that became one of the most influential web usability books in the last decade. Krug claims that web sites should be designed so self-evident that they don’t make people think. This is a principle that we want to follow also in LeMill project.
Our current focus is on improving and simplifying the core features of LeMill. The main idea of LeMill is about collaborative authoring of web-based learning resources. LeMill is part of a Web 2.0 ecosystem that is constantly evolving. Successful services are often focused on one certain feature in which they are the best.
We have been thinking on the existing feature set of LeMill and decided that in some areas we should not try to compete with specialized web sites. YouTube is better in movies and SlideShare in presentations. All this content that is created and shared in other Web 2.0 sites can be easily embedded to LeMill resources.
We are planning to remove the following content types:
Presentations. Our first implementation of presentations required quite a lot of manual work because each slide had to be uploaded separately. Last autumn we changed the presentation template so that presentations could be embedded directly from SlideShare. However, presentations are not as other LeMill learning resources, because they cannot be collaboratively edited. Therefore we should think about presentations as any other rich media content that can be embedded to web pages and exercises.
School projects. In autumn 2008 we added two new templates – lesson plans and school projects. While teachers have created quite a lot of lesson plans we have got only 19 school projects during that time. When we were looking at these projects we realized that as a feature they are overlapping with collections. The idea of collections is to combine content, methods and tools that are used in a learning activity. Typically these collections cover a longer period than just one lesson (for which we have a lesson plan template). The aims, activities and outcomes of the school projects can be described in the teaching and learning story.
Print resources. Our idea behind print resources was to provide a simple way to share learning resources that are designed for print (exercies that are used outdoors, etc). However, many of the print resources are documents that could be more useful as web pages. If our focus is on the collaborative authoring we should guide people to share their resources as web pages that other teachers can edit. If you still want to share documents you can use services such as Scribd. As a benefit you can embed the document in a LeMill web page or exercise.
Source files for media pieces. This feature is used very little and one choice less would make LeMill easier to use.
All the content that is currently in LeMill will remain here. Presentations will be converted to web pages. School projects will be converted to collections. Print documents will be converted to references and can be downloaded in their current format.
As a result it will be much less confusing to choose between new content types. Our aim is to make LeMill so simple that new members can start creating content without having any training or reading any manual. Think about the content you create, not about LeMill.
We are interested about your comments and feedback before we implement these changes.