Online should really mean 'online'

by Rhodri Buttrick on 23 December 2010

As part of my second year university course, we have to do a Careers module. The motives for this course  are good as it is obviously to encourage us to start thinking about and planning for the future.  Part of the first assignment required us to do a personality test (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) which they call the “on-line” work.  In fact, it was just a Word Document which should be downloaded and ‘completed’ and then posted in an electronic folder.

Completing the form  entailed:

  1. Selecting one of two answers from 28 questions by ticking either box a or box b.
  2. Adding up the number of a’s and b’s  in four groups on a scoring sheet.
  3. Deciding on the “dominant” characteristics by selecting those with the biggest score.

That may sound simple but:

  • The document’s tick boxes couldn’t be ticked; they used a “tick box font”.
  • The scoring grid was a nightmare for any dyslexic and probably for a lot of other people below.  See the diagram. It even included some un-marked boxes at the bottom, for some reason. Again, the tick boxes were just cosmetic and couldn’t be used in any electronic format.

Despite my good IT skills, I could only do this by printing a copy of the sheets and asking someone to tick the boxes for me (I’d get them muddled up) as we went through the questions and asking them to complete the scoring sheet, again using a pen.  Subsequently, I had to update the Word document to look like the hand-written one as the course director wanted it handed in “on-line”.  I couldn’t visually follow the grid and so asked someone else to transcribe it. This all took about an hour.

Oddly enough, there was an alternative to the Myer-Briggs called the Jung Typology, which was offered as optional background work. It had a similar set of questions and scoring approach. However, this was truly ‘online’. I selected my answers using a radio button on the screen; when the questions were completed, I submitted the answers and the result and analysis was displayed in a way that I could copy and paste into a Word document to file. This took ten minutes.

The lesson is that a little thought by the person who designed this module could have saved everyone a lot of time, which was essentially wasted on non-valued-added “mechanics”.  Anyone designing this type of exercise would be well advised to consider what exactly the participants would actually have to do to complete the assignment.

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