Educator Effectiveness Improvement Platform

UX Case Study

Claudia Love
Mar 21, 2016 · 3 min read
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“Simplicity is the glory of expression.” — Walt Whitman

To take a dated web application with limited functionality and turn it into a top-notch digital tool optimized for educators to improve the quality of their evaluations and become more effective instructional leaders.

Teachers

  • They can create organizers
  • They can access reports
  • They can access their teacher survey results

Principals

  • They can create organizers
  • They can view organizers of the teachers in their building
  • They can access their own reports and reports of the teachers in their building
  • They can create teacher evaluations
  • They can access survey results of the teachers in their building

Superintendents

  • They can view organizers of the teachers and principals in their district
  • They can access reports of the teachers and principals in their district
  • They can create teacher evaluations
  • They can create principal evaluations
  • They can access survey results of the teachers in their district

The complexity increases proportionally to the level of access. They all use the same system, but we control what they see based on role permissions.

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Source: http://teachingmyfriends.blogspot.com/2012/03/teacher-observations.html

Creating and conducting teacher evaluations was virtually the only feature that was being used in the old application, and it was not user-friendly. Everything else was handled by paper, Word documents and Excel spreadsheets.

The University wanted to turn their old web app into a great product with enhanced functionality to sell it to school districts. The ultimate goal was for the system to be capable of handling every step of the evaluation process, and drive the users away from paper and Microsoft Office documents.

Multiscreen

Most administrative tasks would be completed in a desktop computer or laptop. Classroom observations, however, would be completed using a tablet. Having two separate platforms was not an option, therefore, the application needed to work seamlessly on tablet and desktop screens.

Content-heavy

Every element in the application from evaluation indicators to instructions involved lengthy amounts of text that we needed to fit into a small screen while trying not to overwhelm the user in the process.

New technology vs traditional methods

Many users were contempt with using paper and Microsoft Office, and they saw this tool as something that was being imposed on them by the district and that would make their job more difficult. We needed to prove to them that it would actually make their job easier.

We decided to build a responsive application with a fresh look and feel and simple interactions that would make the tool super intuitive to the point where users would fall in love with them with virtually no training required.

Progressive disclosure and clear hierarchization through typography and spacing were the solutions to displaying the large amounts of text throughout the application.

Our process consisted of coming up with a proposal based on the original requirements, run it by the stakeholders, and make revisions based on their feedback. Wireframes helped the stakeholders visualize the idea, and occasionally it turned out the original requirements were inaccurate. Some features, like the Student Survey shown below, took multiple iterations to be finalized.

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Initial approach for creating a Student Survey
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Final result after multiple iterations

Complex on the inside, fast and intuitive on the outside. Despite the incremental complexity of the project, we managed to stop the application from becoming a monster.

The stakeholders were extremely happy with the result and received very positive feedback from end users.

The product is now part of the client’s suite and we continue to help them be successful with another one of their systems.

Headspring UX Team

On a mission to design beautiful and intuitive enterprise…

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