I first found Discourse through Learning Creative Learning. Today I was in an LCL Unhangout Breakout session with peers. One of our cohorts (TechKim) brought up that while there are endless Arduino tutorials and guides out there, she has been looking for more MOOCs/miniMOOCs and detailed guides aimed at getting those with no electronics/programming experience through basic steps using clear and easy steps that work to eliminate intimidation factor.
For my own background and confidence in trying a new system, I’ve personally got experience with phpBB, SMF, vBulletin, and a number of other forum systems both as user and installing admin as well as other systems ranging from Moodle and other inclusive open educational tech to a chunk of the various CMS/blogging systems out there. So for me, once I decided it was worth a shot it didn’t take me long to figure out how to do what I was trying to do. I knew to come here when all else seemed to fail and was confident enough to tinker.
For a user that may only have experience with computers related to basic e-mail and casual browsing, though… that’s a different story and important to remember especially considering many people that decide to set up Discourse deal with a mix of technical experience and many even specifically aim to include unsavvy users with a goal of getting them more comfortable with technology like Discourse. It might not be that a user doesn’t care or is too lazy, they may just be too intimidated.
While I definitely support continuing improvement in all directions feasible for a system like Discourse, maybe a temporary solution could be something like Discourse 101 on P2PU or similar aimed at very basic and unsavvy users.
It sounds like a lot of people are able to quickly adopt Discourse, but if there are more ways we can keep people from turning away then I think it’s worth a shot. With rhizomatic/peer-based learning like on P2PU, this would also hopefully involve less effort on the part of those developing Discourse and more on the shoulders of the entire Discourse community at large. If we set it up thoughtfully, it could also deepen everyone’s understanding of Discourse and potentially lead to more engaging and meaningful networking. Just an idea, but maybe it’s worth a shot.
If we created something like that, then a dismissable splash page or even link up top could redirect to the Discourse badges and courses. I couldn’t find anything on P2PU and don’t know if there is already something there or elsewhere, but if not I invite others to join a brainstorm with me on it.
Related: LCL project thread where peers are discussing how to empower users to create (and use) their own learning communities using tech such as P2PU and Discourse (thread located here). I am proposing we go a step beyond and also look at creating a basic P2PU or similar course that works to empower nontechnical users to experiment with tech like Discourse.
If nothing else, when users have feedback one thing we can do is look at the feedback from different angles whatever their reasons for feedback, understanding of Discourse, match of target audience, or technical know-how. We can at least look at this feedback as initial impressions. Just because feedback has already been addressed before, doesn’t make sense to cater to, or otherwise not feedback that is adopted into feature implementation doesn’t mean the feedback is useless. A lot can be gained from looking at questions we can ask like “What did the user focus on in their first experiences? What did they get hung up on? What was important enough to them to post about?”.