New Product MVP

A new product MVP within the Schoology platform to capture the greenfield opportunity of ed tech curriculum management.

Company: Schoology (acquired by Powerschool)
Role: Leading Product Designer, Leading User Researcher
Collaborators: Product Manager, Lead Engineer
A snapshot of the final view of learning standards in a folder.
This is a snapshot of the final design of learning standards in a folder. We chose the folder structure for organizing learning standards because (a) they match the rudimentary learning standards management capabilities in Schoology today and (b) folders are shareable, retitle-able, and match educators' mental models around physical copies of curricula.

Summary

In the 21st Century, schools outline curricula and measure student progress via learning standards, i.e. the most distilled version of a fact or skill. 

But curriculum leaders maintain these learning standards manually across the school’s entire suite of ed tech tools and across individual teaching teams to ensure standardization. 

Most curriculum leaders do this with stacks of binders, and endless spreadsheets. It’s painful and tedious — and there was no technology tool to make learning standards management simple across ed tech products. 

This was Schoology’s greenfield opportunity. 

In creating a third product from scratch, our goal was to empower district administrators to manage curriculum planning and resource distribution throughout an entire district at the touch of a button.  

Process

The steps below highlight key milestones, but they are a gross simplification. To get the real story complete with messiness, full thought process, and obstacles included, contact me for a portfolio presentation.

  1. Prior research and design analysis. Prior to my joining this project, our product manager worked with a contract user researcher and contract market researcher to identify the market opportunity for Schoology’s third product. I also combed through another designer’s past design concepts that translated those research findings into visuals. These designs reflected an MVP in which administrators and teachers could vote on learning standards and arrange them into scope and sequence for curricula.   
  2. MVP pivot. With Schoology’s acquisition by Powerschool, we pivoted the direction of this project to align with business initiatives while still leveraging our pre-existing research. My product manager and I settled on a way for curriculum administrators to manage learning standards at scale throughout a district. A curriculum admin could 1) import or match learning standards and 2) share learning standards with relevant teachers and courses throughout the district. The strategic business advantage of this is that we could build a “learning standards management as a service” API that could both be leveraged throughout Powerschool’s robust suite of products (far more robust than Schoology’s). This also left the door open for Powerschool to sell this API as a service to other ed tech companies as an additional revenue stream. 
  3. Research on MVP pivot. With a new hypothesized MVP, I conducted user research with curriculum administrators to understand their needs around learning standards management specifically. After this open-ended conversation in interviews, I shared our hypothesized MVP and asked for feedback.  
  4. Design concept. After wireframing the key workflows for this MVP, I designed this workflow in two versions. Version A used Schoology’s design system, and Version B used Powerschool’s design system. This way, our design team had a case study to see what missing pieces existed between the two design systems so we could start to reconcile the differences with the new Powerschool-Schoology merger.
  5. Usability testing. I tested usability of the primary workflows with curriculum administrators
  6. Engineering handoff. This project was completed just before our design team transitioned from Sketch to Figma. Therefore, handoff used redlining deployed through Sketch sync to Invision. Because this project did not yet have a delivery team assigned, my product manager and I did our best to document our work clearly so a delivery team could easily pick up this work. 

Design Snapshots

Outcomes

This work laid the foundation for the development of a learning objectives shared service for all the products in the Powerschool ed tech platform. Creating the capability for learning standards management paired with the pre-existing course materials management that exists in the Schoology LMS creates the perfect positioning for Powerschool to create a robust curriculum management solution.