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January 5, 2021

Product Update: User Feedback to Inform User Experience

Forget the Status Quo

At Teaching Channel we have a set of five core values. Every six months we revisit those core values to make sure we are still aligned and to determine if the values themselves need to be tweaked. There is one value that never changes: We believe the status quo in professional development does not work and we’re determined to change that. Which is why we set out to be a different kind of growth-focused organization.

So, what makes us unique? Frankly, it could be any of our other core values:  we are educators first, our goal is to empower teachers, we support clients in meeting their goals through authentic partnership, and our technology is a facilitator to meeting those goals.

That said, we know that unless the technology we’re putting out is intuitive, reliable, and innovative, it will undermine all of those values. Along those lines, we’re excited to share how we’ve revamped ENGAGE Feedback to better meet the needs of the end user and to become a tool that is more likely to drive growth for every stakeholder.

A Company All About Feedback

We talk about feedback as an organization a lot. So it is only fitting that it is feedback and self-reflection that drive our development. The following three practices have helped to drive our growth:

User feedback is collected from all users three times a year through end-user surveys. The hands-on implementation process that ENGAGE Feedback utilizes, with a dedicated implementation specialist communicating with stakeholders at every level throughout the year, allows us to engage users for more specific feedback as needed. Whether for one-off fixes, or larger new feature sets, the Product Team spends time identifying the right users for focus groups or individual review of specifications. Here are a few of the new features of the latest release of ENGAGE Feedback that have directly come from user feedback:

Video Shared (3)
  • Role-based permissions are now behind the scenes. While role-based permissions keep things simple, being able to seamlessly engage in any role—as a teacher, coach, principal, or peermeans the tool reflects the many hats educators wear much more closely.
  • Easier ability to add/edit/delete content. We all want the opportunity to try things out, to make mistakes, to upload the wrong video clip while being able to easily change that response or delete that clip. Now the system is significantly more responsive to the needs of the end user and allows for simple content management.
  • Fully private conversations. While observer comments were always private from other colleagues, now videos themselves and any peer OR observer dialogue can be kept siloed and in a safe space for growth.

Research into best practice instruction and coaching is at the heart of what we do. As career  educators ourselves, we are in this work to support educator growth and want to make sure that the tools we build are supporting best practices in pedagogy and coaching. Our inclusion in Harvard’s Best Foot Forward publications and the Visibly Better working group are an indicator of our focus on educator growth over gimmicks when it comes to technology.

  • Streamlined dashboards. Research into best practices in education technology indicate that minimizing the cognitive lift required, paired with significant impact of the tool itself, is a winning combination in terms of user design. We’ve cut our dashboards down to a simple notification feed – each with an associated action – so that users are never at a loss as to how to take the next step.
  • Enhanced user controls. Users are now granted roles based on the interactions that they will have with a specific group of users. These “cohorts” are flexible groupings that allow for targeted, permission-controlled interactions across organizations.
  • Interorganizational accounts for cross-client collaboration. One kind of group that users can belong to are interorganizational Networked Improvement Communities. Driven by our work under a US Dept of Education TSL grant project, Empowering Educators to Excel (E3), we are bringing participants together to collaborate across district and state lines to tap into resources that may not be available within their district and allow for teacher-to-teacher collaboration that truly improves practice.

Market influences require us to set ourselves apart for schools that are bombarded with tools every day. Our development goals are informed by our experience as school and district leaders. As mentioned, all development is about growth over gimmicks, and we know that it is our track record for success that will ultimately make us a product that sticks. It also means that work that is grant funded and focused on research in the field pushes us to build tools that will ultimately meet the needs of that research.

  • Enhanced data management. Our tool is the great example of how to bring together two streams of work that have previously been siloed:  data management and professional development. Improving our data control and management, including adding compensation management tools to our existing data dashboards and evaluation management tools, begins to fill in the gaps left by other platforms that are focused on coaching or data only.
  • Faster video upload. The recent release of ENGAGE Feedback Mobile for iOS and the integration of the app with the latest release of ENGAGE Feedback is an example of driving the marketplace with innovation around video compression and upload. Our mobile app is five-star rated and delivers the same ease of use as our platform.

The new functionality and features released as part of our updated version of ENGAGE Feedback are no exception in that they have been driven by our core values. We are confident that this set of functionality will support more effective practice and ensure that a culture of growth is even more easily maintained within our partnering organizations.


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