How Learnosity helped Shmoop build a pioneering SEL product in months
Putting students at the heart of learning
Edtech disruptor Shmoop is a trailblazer in the social and emotional learning (SEL) space. Its assessment-based product Heartbeat sought to advance its mission to put students at the heart of learning and go beyond standard performance metrics.
“The goal of Heartbeat is to help students connect with learning in a way that helps them explore and understand more about themselves,” says Chris Glick, Head of Product at Shmoop. “We want to give them the agency to create proactive behaviors that support lifelong learning.”
-Efficiently build and scale new product
-Decouple development tracks for product, engineering, and content
-Support high-level of UX customization
Building a complex SEL product from scratch
But realizing this ambition meant first having to navigate through a maze of obstacles.
“My sole focus was on building the Heartbeat product, which meant having to design interfaces, test them with users, and deliver final designs to engineering in a very short window of time. Our content team also needed to create content in tandem with this, so it was a bit like building the bridge while driving across it!”
To meet its ambitious roadmap objectives, Shmoop needed a solution that let the “golden triangle” of product, engineering, and content work in parallel from day one.
“We didn’t have the in-house resources to build a content authoring and delivery system from scratch, so I spoke with our Head of Content and our CXO (chief experience officer) and that’s when we started looking into using Learnosity.”
Our Head of Content was able to contract writers and educational experts to begin content creation before I even built the first screen with engineering. This meant that my own team was able to solely focus on building the product and meshing it with Learnosity.
Head of Product at Shmoop
Powering product development across multiple teams
With tight deadlines and a variety of moving parts to contend with, Shmoop quickly leveraged Learnosity’s suite of APIs to immediately go from concepting to creating.
“Right at the beginning we knew Learnosity was going to sit inside our product architecture. We were able to get the first systems up and running in a month or so. After that, we were able to continue building systems off the Learnosity platform.”
Accelerating content creation
While the product and engineering teams got Heartbeat’s pulse going, the content team swiftly got to grips with Learnosity’s authoring capabilities.
“It was really important to us that we avoided putting limitations on content production,” says Chris. “All our primary content tagging structures were stored inside of Learnosity, so our Head of Content was able to contract writers and educational experts to begin content creation before I even built the first screen with engineering. This meant that my own team was able to solely focus on building the product and meshing it with Learnosity.”
As one of the goals of the UX was to ease the typical stresses students encounter in standard learning environments, Shmoop looked to employ novelty and storytelling as catalysts for engagement. This meant that front-end flexibility was a must for the team during the design and development process.
“We needed something we could fully control on the front end to create the dynamic, engaging experience we’d envisioned for Heartbeat,” says Chris. “The level of front-end flexibility Learnosity offered was a differentiator for us. In less than a week the content team was producing demos that were very close to our initial designs.”
The implementation was quick, our content team found it easy to use, and our engineers never had to worry about uptime or response times.
Head of Product at Shmoop
A fully featured solution brought to life in months
Shmoop successfully launched Heartbeat just months after work on it had commenced.
“Even amid the chaos of 2020, we were able to meet our deadline thanks to the months of development time Learnosity saved us,” explains Chris. “The implementation was quick, our content team found it easy to use, and our engineers never had to worry about uptime or response times.”
And it’s this very reliability that gives innovators the freedom to innovate.
“My primary value indicator is trust,” says Chris. “What I’m looking for in a supplier-vendor relationship is the ability to work closely in setting up a system that brings value to everyone without worrying about something going wrong. This is what we get with Learnosity – and that reliability was foundational to bringing our product to life.”
Shmoop is an edtech company that provides classroom tools and solutions that ease the stress of the learning environment.