Mission Mindfulness: 15 Day Challenge

During the fall of 2020, I worked with a friend to create this interactive, instructor-led, asynchronous course. With the Covid-19 pandemic weighing heavily on us all, a mindfulness course felt especially relevant.

Course Goals & Objectives

Selecting the course content was difficult. Mindfulness could easily provide enough content to fill a large course. And yet, doing so would be too much for a 3-week challenge. Yet, we also wanted to prepare our learners for a full mindfulneess practice.

In the end, we chose to craft a course that offered an introduction to the basics of mindfulness and exposed learners to a vareity of meditation and emotional regulation strategies.

Assessment

We set a goal to create this course function without the use of paid features. You never know which resources will be available when it comes time to help a client. Because Thinkific does not offer a gradebook with their free version, we put on our troubleshooting caps to design a workaround. For this course, this meant turning it into a competion-based challange. To assess learner comprehension and application, we included a peer-to-peer discussion board and instructor-learner journal assignments.

Each week, learners were awarded 1 point for finishing each of the following tasks:
1. Required Daily Meditation (4 Points Possible)
2. A Personal Discussion Post (1 Point Possible)
3. Discussion Post Replies (2 points Possible)
4. Weekly Survey Entry (1 Point Possible)

To succeed in the the challenge, learners had to acquire points as they traveled through our three mindfulness levels: seeker, explorer, and master. All tasks were pass/fail with an option to redo any task that fell short. As learners leveled up, we planed to send a personalized certificate to their inbox.

Course Pacing

We debated long and hard about the pacing for this course. One big benefit of online learning is the option for learners to complete work at thier own pace. Yet, with mindulness experts often emphasizing the benefits of consistency over quantity we weren’t sure that offering open comsumption was the right move.

In the end, we decided to provide daily chunks of content, small assignments at the end of the week, and four required daily meditations.

While some learners might choose to work ahead, the addition of regular meditation exercises would allow for the consistency that is supported by research.

Tools

Choosing an LMS isn’t easy. We wanted something that was both free and also provided the functionality we wanted.

After some research, we chose Thinkific. We liked that it is easy to use, offers helpful integrations, includes progress tracking, and produces aesthetically beautiful courses. 

Additionally, Thinkific offers a free version that includes unlimited users and content. Admittedly, there are some paid features I’d have preferred to use. However, with a bit of design gymnastics, we were still able to find the functionality that we were looking for.

Tools: Camtasia, Audacity, Powerpoint, Canva, Thinkific

User Interface

It was very important that our user interface was simple, intiutive, responsive, consistent, and attractive. We wanted our users to simultaneously love it and not notice it.

As with any LMS, we had to find a way to both leverage its strengths and compensate for weaknesses. 

Our first big hurdle was course layout. Because Thinkific’s free verson did not include a gradebook, we needed to list each challenge item separately so that the course’s progress tracking would be accurate.

Iniitally, we tried to include lessons for each item housed within its weekly chapter. However, doing so created a giant mess. We did find, however, that creating separate chapters for the introductory materaials and weekly meditations was much more user friendly. 

The addition of a course video tour made for a seamless user experience that I am proud to be a part of creating. 

Revise & Reflect

No instructional process is complete without an iterative series of reflections and revisions. Our process also included several peer review—which was a fun and helpful bonus.

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