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Designing Programs that Put Educators First

Designing Programs that Put Educators First

At Edmentum, we believe that educators shouldn’t have to spend their precious time learning how to use complex technology.  We understand that every minute you spend trying to figure out how to use one of our programs is a minute stolen from helping your students learn. The keyword here is “use.” While it may sound counter-intuitive, we don’t want you to be Edmentum “users.”

Think of it this way — right now, I’m in Microsoft Word composing this article for the Edmentum blog. At this moment, I am a writer, focused on the ideas I want to convey and the words I want to use. Now suppose I want to apply special formatting to part of my text. It doesn’t matter what the formatting is — the point is that I know the result I want to achieve, but I don’t know how to accomplish it using Word’s maze of ribbons, menus, and toolbars.

What just happened? Right then, I stopped being a writer. Instead, I became a Word user. I was forced to abandon the goal I wanted to accomplish and focus instead on mastering the technology I am using to accomplish it.

The thing is that I don’t want to focus on the technology. I want to be a writer. I don’t want to be a user.

We recognize that educators don’t want to be users either. When you log in to one of programs, you have a goal you want to achieve. Maybe you want to check to see whether a student is on pace to complete an algebra course by the end date in Edmentum Courseware. Maybe you want to set up a group practice session on the topic of “point of view” in Study Island. Maybe you want to divide your students into small groups based on their reading proficiency in Exact Path. Or, maybe you want to lead your students through a fun activity on computer coding in EducationCity. Regardless of your goal, our goal is to design our programs so that you can achieve your goal as quickly and effortlessly as possible giving you more time to spend with your students.

How do we pursue our goal of designing products that assist educators in their goal of improving student outcomes? We do it by observing and interviewing educators and students in their classrooms to understand how they use our programs, and by conducting usability tests to gain insights into how we can improve the experience our programs provide. The greatest complement we have received during these research sessions is when an educator asks, “Did a teacher design this product?” Our answer is always, “Yes, you’re helping us design it right now.”

And so, at Edmentum, we’ve stopped using the “u” word. We don’t design programs for users; we design them for teachers, administrators, and students. This seemingly small change in language ensures that we remain laser focused on making our technology as invisible as possible so as not to distract from your core goals. Achieving this level of simplicity is hard, and there will always be more we can do, but we are committed to making strides in this direction with every new enhancement to our programs. Stay tuned in the weeks to come as we take a deeper dive into how we build programs that are simple for both teachers and learners.