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Research project to connect with the needs and environmental influences in the classroom


Before launching into a new project, we wanted to gain a deeper understanding of our target market. Our product team organized an observation, interview, and co-creation set of activities across multiple locations.


TEAM:  Erica Michaelson, Chuck Agin, David Straight, Amanda Raupple

Classroom observations and interview

Targeting a research initiative to launch our Next Generation K-12 Math and Science programs, the cross-functional product teams traveled to Casper, WY  to spend a week observing students and teachers in unprompted classroom visits. Casper was one of a few stops across the country to gain a deep understanding of the day in the life of our users.


Our group was broken up across the district’s elementary, middle and high schools with two observers per science and math classrooms. It was hands down the most insightful experience I've had to sit and focus on their learning experiences. The school did purchase our math program previously but no additional tools or learning materials were introduced or prompted - we were truly observing the natural setting and behaviors in the classroom.

Each day of the WY trip was followed by an interview, co-creation, round table, and/or dinner discussion with teachers from each of the groups. One of the last days we sat down with their technology and data administration leaders to understand their pain points.



  1. This particular educator’s experience with the login process was challenging enough to motivate her to print, laminate, and hang the platform’s username and password from the ceiling to support her students.


  2. This program’s branding in it’s header banner is strong but out of proportion in relation to the valuable screen real-estate opportunities to optimize for and support instruction in the classroom.


  3. How would we support a persona like Mr. Johns? Mr. Johns has an advanced MSS class (Summit) that is PBL based. "I give the students a challenge and they figure it out with themselves" He uses Foss kits but creates his own curriculum. He needs Information on emerging new topics like genetics, robotics that he doesn't have the background knowledge on. He's interested in a quick education on the new materials for himself.

Artifacts and activities after the classroom visits

Upon returning to Columbus the team motivated and energized. They analyzed and synthesized the research findings together. Here is a collection of the artifacts we created during this time period:






Persona Development

Developed by our S&A team with quantitative data and inspired by the WY qualitative insights. Stage on stage and PBL educators were the targeted user segments.

Needs Analysis

Brainstorming, documenting user needs lists, categorizing and analyzing.

A Day in the Life Activity

Recruited two new MSS editors that were previous teachers to unpack teacher planning experiences and adapting on the fly in class.

Quadrant/ Component Analysis

Quadrant diagram with our personas at opposite ends of the x-axis and technical complexity on the y-axis. With this framework, we plotted our components.

Storyboard Scenarios

Empathy exercises to place potential solutions in the context of users and their environments.

Math User Journey Map

Mapping the 6-12 Math of the student, teacher, print/digital, and data touchpoints across the lesson experience.

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