Teacherly Provides Collaboration Platform to 70,000 Teachers
This EdTech Startup Enables Lecturers to Plan Lessons in Minutes instead of Hours
Teacherly is an educational technology company based in the UK. It is a collaboration platform for teachers. The main purpose is to speed up lesson preparation thanks to templates. The project also enables lecturers and tutors to share their best practices with each other and simplifies communications between teachers and students.
Why Do School Principals, Senior Staff, and Lecturers Choose This Education Platform?
Teacherly has a lot of online collaborative tools which advanced functionality that enables them to do the following:
- Create an account in a couple of clicks. A new user instantly joins a large community of collaborators offering plenty of opportunities from peer-to-peer coaching to sharing best practices and knowledge. Leveraging someone else’s years of experience in teaching has never been that easy before.
- Reduce lesson planning time to just 5 minutes. With real-time access to a huge knowledge base offered by fellow teachers, everyone can get valuable ideas, advice, and materials in no time. Students also having accounts on Teacherly can provide feedback on your topic and content. Planning lessons fast and with ease has become a reality.
- Prepare interactive lessons thanks to ready-made templates and integrations. Thousands of templates are available for presentations, and every teacher can add videos, tests, assignments, and information from the popular internet resources integrated with Teacherly.
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Which Technologies and Tools We Used to Develop The E-learning Platform
In this project, we mainly work with PHP programming language (Laravel framework). For frontend development, we use React JS. MySQL database is used as a storage, Mandrill serves as a transactional email API for sending emails. WebSocket is employed as a communication protocol, and Redis performs the function of a quick-caching data storage. Nginx and Nginx_gen are running on a staging server, whereas on the production server we use a load balancer. All development is done in Docker containers. The infrastructure scheme of the project is presented below:
To respond quickly to the errors that might occur, we use Sentry, which helps our developers to track them and react according to their severity.
How The Software Development Process Was Built
There are currently 8 members of the development team, working closely with the customer:
The workflow and the lifecycle of a task looks as follows:
In this project, we follow the Scrum methodology to make the development process as clear and flexible as possible. We use weekly sprints: once a task is created, it goes to the project backlog. Then the task goes through the estimation and prioritization processes and after that it is eventually being selected for a sprint. When it happens, the task gets the In Progress status, and the work on the task begins. After that, the task either gets the Resolved status or might be Paused for some reason (i.e. if some additional research is needed). In this case, the reason for pausing will be specified in the task worklog. However, if it is resolved and tested by a QA engineer, it gets the status ‘Done’, which means the work on the task has been properly completed, and some new functionality has been deployed on the production server.
Teacherly & Mad Devs Collaboration
Mad Devs team stepped in to make the Teacherly platform usability audit and rework the user journey to make it intuitive. After we created a walkthrough scenario for a teacher starting with the platform, re-created the UI, and updated the React version from 14 to 16 to improve performance, the existing users got more engaged and started to recommend Teacherly to their colleagues.
This initial success resulted in a new contract with Teacherly, and now Mad Devs is a sole contact point for all tasks, including design, development, deployment, and support.
How Regular UX/UI Testing is Important to Build Software
We are really mad about the quality of what we do. We test every minor development, and the UX/UI part of the project is must. When it comes to end user facing stuff, it’s vital to listen to your user community, collect feedback and take action based on it. We worked with the groups of experienced teachers for field research the findings of which helped us create the interfaces that are easy to use.
Teacherly Navigators is a group of teachers collaborating with us to improve Teacherly as a product. They are first to test new features and provide feedback. This volunteer group really makes a difference, and we encourage every user to contribute as much as they can.
Timely feedback is especially valuable as we’re constantly adding new features and improving the existing ones. The mobile version of Teacherly is going to be launched soon and bring even more value to the active users.
How Feedback is Important to Build Software
Change for the better based on feedback resulted in greater user engagement metrics. The number of incoming feature requests considerably increased.
For example, many school administrations told us that they would prefer to have the teacher’s digital passport available in the admin interface at any time. The passport should contain info on how the teacher performs, how much progress is made on the lesson program, and which certifications this person passed. School principals also want to see student feedback on every lecturer. All these features have been successfully included into our roadmap and will soon become available for testing.
Collaboration with the community of end users helped our team to develop an outstanding product able to attract third-party investment and become a product of interest to the new markets.
From UK and US to UAE: How Teacherly Expand to New Markets
Investors from the UAE found the Teacherly approach interesting and great for educating the teachers in their country. Our team has helped Teacherly raise $1 million seed to develop their project as we worked on its demo version to be approved for being funded as a valuable project. To make this possible, our team members went to Dubai where Mad Devs reps were meeting local teachers to rework the platform’s processes and logic so as they could fit the UAE’s educational system.
Now Teacherly is a faster, easier, and smarter way to plan and deliver lessons online. On the platform, teachers share presentations, videos, and information from the Internet. Student users check their schedules, do homework, and can easily catch up with the group if they miss a lesson. Teacherly helps every one of the 70,000 teachers it serves to save about 10 hours on lesson planning weekly. Just very recently Teacherly has been included into the “Top EU EdTech Startups to Watch” list by Sifted media site.