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Avril Sweeney's Design Narrative, using the instant messenger to share whiteboards to instruct a colleague on the LMS

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Avril sweeney
25 March 2013

Design narrative template


Using the whiteboard feature in the Instant messenger to share screens with a colleague - teaching/instructing the colleague on the LMS system training requirements .

Narrator Avril Sweeney

What was your role in the story?



Describe the physical, social and intentional factors that define the design space. E.g. where and when did this occur? In what kind of space? Who were the key actors, and what were the relations between them? What where the beliefs and desires which shaped their interaction?

There was a physical space that divided the narrator and the colleague. The colleague was in the main office building and the narrator was located in a different area of the office.  The intention was to use the instant messenger to chat informally using the Im feature and then to use the whiteboard to share work screens for information and instruction purposes.The beliefs and desires that shaped the interaction was a shared learning management system and the training percentages which were low.


What were you trying to achieve? What was your measure of success?

We were trying to achieve a percentage increase in training percentages for the colleague using the share screen option on the instant messenger. The measure of success was that the colleague would be able to log on the the lms system to successfully complete his training without the narrator calling to his desk.  If the share screens option worked using the instant messenger successful teaching/understanding took place therefore the colleague was able to complete his training on line after the online demonstration of what he had to do on the LMS.


contact  colleague using instant messenger

Explained to colleague how to share screens in the instant messenger

used the telephone and the instant messenger to engage colleague in actions using Instant messenger

shared workscreens and commenced teacher-learner demonstration on LMS system

List the actions you took in chronological order, note their effects – expected and unexpected. Highlight any obstacles you encountered, and explain how you tried to overcome them.

effects- successful learning outcome - percentages increased for colleague as he logged in to the lms to complete his training. Sent colleague an email and reengaged later in the today. Obstacles- time as colleague was busy. I tried to overcome obstacles by keeping in contact on the instant communicator and email during the day to keep colleague engaged and to re-set time later in the day to meet on line to commence sharing of screens.

unexpected - server slow - had to re-attempt to log on as server slow


expected; colleague to engage and share screens to complete training

Unexpected - colleague was busy with meetings and answering phonecalls.

to a great extent I met my objectives - persevered and made contact and connected with colleague using several mediums throughout day, e-mail, phone, instant messenger,

Additional outcomes-  close out of training percentages that were low.

Evidence- confidential work related

List the expected and unexpected outcomes of your actions. To what degree did you meet your objectives? What additional outcomes did you engender? Provide evidence to back your claims.


Reflect on your experience. What transferable insights did you gain?

technology needs to be explored to find ways to achieve the learning outcome. Patience is required by both narrator and colleague as the server can be slow to bring up the shared screens.  Reflecting back, the colleague found it very helpful but a bit time consuming. The benefit of exploring and trialing technology in different ways such as using the chat feature, sharing work screens, inviting other colleagues to join the conversation - need to explore if several colleagues at once can share screens - will try this this week to see if it works- if so it will be a great way to work on a project behind the scenes in the background to achieve successful learning outcomes - note to self to try this out.

Extra content

Embedded Content

added by Avril sweeney


Lynne Dixon
10:09pm 27 March 2013

Avril, this idea looks as if it could be very useful for situations where trainer/trainee are not sharing an office. They could be in different towns/countries, or one in the workplace & the other at home. Was it your intention to use this session as a trial run for such a 'distributed' situation? (Otherwise I can't help feeling it might have been easier just to walk over to your colleague's desk...)

Did you use a commercial IM client, or is there one embeded in your workplace system?

Dave Martin
9:10am 2 April 2013

Very interesting Avril. As Lynne notes above it raises the whole question of when it is appropriate to use distance learning technology and when not. I can see value in your case as not only can you work with this colleague but also with several others around the building and this avoids all of them being pulled away from their earning tasks whilst still receiving training.

Avril sweeney
1:08pm 2 April 2013

Afternoon Lynne, thank you for logging in and leaving a comment. 

Yes, it was my intention to use this session as a trial for for distributed situation. I would not be able to call to everyone's desk as we have 620 colleagues at work. I am finding that the IM (microsoft office communicator) is becoming more useful every day. For example, I used it today to write a technical report with the validation facilitator. The im is super if you put your mind to using the 'technology', thats my aim this year to explore the technology we have to find new and interesting ways to use it and then share it- I could even use a 'pattern' such as the one above we used to write the 'design narrative'.

I used the  commercial IM client, that is embeded in my  workplace system? I might trial the IM on my home computer and see if it works with someone?

Avril sweeney
1:10pm 2 April 2013

Afternoon Dave thank you for logging in and leaving a comment.

I find the Im very helpful for 'distance' learning at work.  I am assuming i can use it with a colleague if she/he is travelling in another country and logging on to their laptop and using the IM . I can Im colleagues abroad so I think the IM could be useful for sharing screens and discussing or amending a document while travellling?  I must try doing this with colleagues travelling during the year?


Lynne Dixon
2:04pm 2 April 2013

Thanks for answering, Avril. Yes, I can see that if it's a widely available piece of software (not a proprietory one specific to your workplace) it does give scope to use this approach with colleagues who are away from the office - & maybe even for you to work from home occasionally, if this training is a major part of your job?

Joe Monaghan
7:53pm 2 April 2013

Hi Avril, Your detailed example for me highlights the day-to-day realities of trying to implement training in the workplace, Joe

Clare withers
11:05am 3 April 2013

Hi Avril,

I find the IM at work really useful especially when its not possible to be in the same physical location. Would it help to 'block' time out of  your colleagues diary so they could concentrate on using the system? Would you be able to use it with a group to prevent you from having to run individual seesions or have I missed the point?


Avril sweeney
6:44pm 3 April 2013

Hi Claire, thanks for leaving a message, thats a good idea to block book time with colleagues using the IM share screen.  As I am sure you know not everyone likes 'gadgets' or 'technology' and some are reluctant to change their ways! thanks I will try your idea out and see how it goes.

aykut ozkaya
12:39am 4 April 2013

Hi Avril,

It is an interesting project that you have designed and implemented at work. The MS communicator software must be very easy use and configure. I would imagine the familiar Microsoft layout also helps to include staff who might be reluctant to change or not very comfortable with technology. What are your thoughts on the MS communicator is it a free add on or paid software? Did explore other alternative software ? 



Avril sweeney
9:37pm 5 April 2013

Hi Aykut, thanks for you message. Yes the IM messenger is very handy and I discovered that I am 'designing' learning activities through the use of the IM chat and the share screens options this is enabling both a structured and unstructured environment where the learning design is flexible and adabtable and colleagues can 'create their own designs'.  Colleagues use the chat feature alot but I am not aware of too many colleagues who take the time to familiarise themselves with the 'properties' and 'affordances' of the share screen option (for designing learning activities).  Yes, I agree with you ,  think staff are reluctant to change or are not very comfortable with technology.  I  notice that we dont have all the features of the  MS communicator and they would include network sharing and conference calls that might allow sharing of learning designs (they are blocked out).  I am assuming that the software is paid for as a 'licence' fee?  I didn't explore other alternative software because this year I wanted to try out the 'affordances' and the 'properties' of the technology that we use on site- exploring and digging deeper to see what they have to offer.   Avril


Maxine Armstrong
7:41pm 9 April 2013

Hi Avril, your design narrative has certainly made me think about how I could apply it with my own colleagues, many of whom do not work in the same building as me or even on campus. I think it would have been beneficial to follow up my own Blackboard workshop. Blocking time out would certainly be beneficial as I am sure we are all familiar with the many distractions that can occur in an office situation.

Avril sweeney
10:31am 10 April 2013 (Edited 10:53am 10 April 2013)

Hi Maxine, thanks for leaving a message. Yes applying the properties and affordances of the instant messenger at work is useful from my point of view although on the flip side not everyone understands the value in using the instant messenger share application screens. Mostly people use the IM for quick chats in the background, but I have found that there are profound effects of using the share work screen for designing for learning, for example colleagues are able to action more using the share work screens writing collaborative reports and working collaboratively on the learning management system.  I can see that there is value in using the share application feature in the instant messenger and from a learning outcomes point of view, we can discuss, practice, evaluate, collaborate etc so this is where i see the 'profound' effects of the instant messenger tool and its properties and affordances as valuabel in learning design. I would see using the instant messenger as agriculturally growning learning design by enabling others to use the tool to design their own learning, in that way the IM has profound and new effects. Avril

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