By Teachers, For Teachers: Co-Design at Work
We’ve all heard it said before: Teachers make over a thousand decisions every day. From renegotiating seating charts to assessing and correcting student misunderstandings in real time, teachers spend all day seeking input, analyzing data, and adapting accordingly.
That’s one reason why we created our new Insights Reports. Teachers can already use BrainPOP to create standards-aligned, auto-graded assignments. Now, they get real-time reporting on these assignments, with specific insights designed to let them meaningfully differentiate for all learners.
When we started this project, we knew that building the best tools would require the experts’ guidance: teachers. Throughout the process of building our Insights Reports, we relied on a panel of teachers to provide input and feedback that guided the way these tools took shape. This collaboration confirms that our resources are practical and relevant.
Product Insights Driven by Teacher Expertise
As a BrainPOP user and a dedicated educator, Lisa Giblin has witnessed the impact of co-designed features firsthand. As a teacher at a project-based learning school, she embraces the idea of creativity. She believes that BrainPOP empowers her to create an engaging and enriching learning experience for her students.
“I promote BrainPOP every chance I get,” Lisa exclaims. “I like trying new things, and the opportunity to co-design features with BrainPOP was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my teaching career. You could tell that the team valued our input.”
Throughout the process, Lisa and her colleagues met with product designers to share feedback on each new version. “That’s what I loved about the process! The team was open to listening and asked open-ended questions to learn how to make things more effective. It felt like the team was learning from us.”
The team certainly agrees. When asked about the experience of working in consultation with classroom teachers, Product Designer John Rong commented, “Working with these educators was a designer’s dream. The educators’ routines and struggles informed the initial designs, and their design feedback enhanced the final designs.”
Impactful Tools to Enhance Student Learning
As an educator, Laurie Mullin was thrilled to be part of the BrainPOP co-design process. She reflects on how her involvement allowed her to make an impact and witness the development of the Insights Reports firsthand.
“I wanted this tool to help teachers understand BrainPOP isn’t just engaging videos or an easy substitute lesson plan. With the right data, teachers can use BrainPOP more constructively,” Laurie shares. “The Insights Reports provide valuable data that helps me plan strategically and ensures all my students are on the path to success.”
Data That Informs Day-to-Day Classroom Instruction
Through co-designing the features, Lisa and Laurie, along with other educator team members, actively shaped BrainPOP’s Insights Reports to ensure they meet the practical needs of teachers in the classroom. Their valuable input resulted in significant improvements, enabling teachers to seamlessly track students’ progress in real time. The intuitive design of the dashboard, thoughtfully incorporating drop-down menus based on teacher feedback, provides educators with a comprehensive snapshot of student performance. With this powerful tool at their disposal, teachers can effortlessly identify areas that require additional support or reinforcement, tailoring their instruction to meet the specific needs of each student.
Brimming with enthusiasm, Lisa shares her excitement about one particular feature, exclaiming, “The thing I’m most excited about is the pie chart where you can quickly see what percentage of students ‘got this’ and what percentage needs a little bit of reteaching.” This pie chart empowers teachers to make data-driven decisions and prioritize their focus areas, ensuring that no student is left behind, and every learner receives the support they need to thrive. With such dynamic insights at their fingertips, educators can proactively adapt their teaching strategies, fostering an inclusive and empowering learning environment.
Processes That Prioritize Teacher Voice
Associate Director of User Research Thea Hogarth emphasizes the importance of co-designing with teachers. “We know that there can be a love/hate relationship with data, so we didn’t want to create reports just for the sake of creating reports,” she says. BrainPOP’s approach was to build alongside teachers, benefiting from their firsthand experience and perspective. This collaboration ensures that the reports address essential day-to-day decisions to support individual student growth.
Laurie and Lisa both remarked positively when asked about their perspectives on the co-design process. “This is by teachers, for teachers,” remarks Laurie. “We did this. BrainPOP got input from us—which so seldom happens in edtech. This isn’t just another thing being fed to us. We helped make it. Together, we made a system that other teachers could use.”
Katie Pothireddy is a product marketer on the BrainPOP team and a former vice principal, teacher coach, and classroom teacher. She holds a Master’s in the Science of Education from Johns Hopkins University.