Discovery Education.

Tapping into technology to teach.
Discovery Channel Education | Strategy, User Experience, Design, Development

With a mission of optimizing the use of technology in education, Discovery Education accelerates school districts' digital transition through comprehensive standards-based content, professional development, formative assessment, and community engagement proven to positively impact student achievement. In short, they bring tomorrow’s technology to today’s classrooms.

nclud was engaged by Discovery Education on a comprehensive digital program that replaces traditional textbooks and transforms teaching and learning called the Discovery Education Techbook. The challenge was to create an experience that was both educational and accessible across ages — flexible enough for instructors and engaging for students.


The business goals of the Techbook project hinged on its usability and appeal to a wide audience.

Kids as young as five years old to teachers and staff in their thirties would all be using this new technology. Designing for those two audiences is vastly different and the possibility of alienating a certain target audience was a primary focus. Through extensive market and user research, however, it became apparent that children, teens, and adults are in fact drawn to a consistent interface that acts as a frame for the content they are curious to explore.

UX / User Experience Sketches

So we set out to design an experience that centered on the incredible content — both the richness of text and audio, and the integration of images, video, and interactive exercises. We also opted to create an “all-in-one” teacher's edition, including detailed lesson models and activity guides in order to address the additional needs of that audience.

User Experience

Concurrent with user research, nclud conducted iterative prototyping of interaction concepts.

Through rapid prototyping we were not only able to solicit actionable user feedback, but also get confident buy-in from the Discovery Education team.

In addition to identifying persona-specific usability practices, nclud based the testing and validation of the design on the 5E learning methodology — a constructivist model of teaching which theorizes that learners build or construct new ideas on top of their old ideas.


Make connections between past and present learning experiences, lay the organizational groundwork for the activities ahead, and stimulate student involvement in the anticipation of upcoming activities.


Work together in teams, building a base of common experience which assists students in the process of sharing and communicating. The teacher acts as a facilitator, providing materials and guiding the students’ focus.


Put the abstract information they have been gathering into a more concrete, communicable form. Students are encouraged to put these explanations into their own words and demonstrate understanding.

Elaborate / Extend

Encourage learners to expand on the concepts learned, make connections to other related concepts, and apply their understandings to the world around them.


Provide for self-assessment as well as formal assessment as the learning occurs.


The lack of dependable broadband access in most school districts was a huge variable in development.

Many school servers aren’t equipped to handle large download bandwidths from hundreds of users simultaneously; many students lack adequate internet bandwidth speeds at home, rendering them incapable of downloading homework or accessing resources; and insufficient loading time impedes the lesson flow within the classroom, wastes valuable class time, and can lead to classroom disruption.

Based on these parameters, we architected a solution where, rather than a bulk scheme of downloading an entire course at once, the content would be dynamically and intelligently split into variable chunks of data — allowing users to download small pieces, such as chapters and relevant sections of a course at sizes from 100KB to 175MB.

Discovery Channel Education iPad Tablet Design
Discovery Channel Education iPad Tablet Design 2
Discovery Channel Education iPad Tablet Design 3


The Discovery Education Techbook received accolades across the country.

After beta testing and trial programs, the Techbook mobile app launched to be widely available for K-8 science, high school science, and middle school social studies, and is constantly updated to reflect today’s changing world by including in-depth lesson plans to support new and experienced teachers alike.

The new Discovery Education Techbook app provides access to dynamic digital content to all students with iPad and helps extend learning beyond the classroom. Now, because I can have all the content my class needs to complete their work downloaded to devices before they leave school, I can give my students digital assignments to complete outside the classroom, regardless of their internet access beyond our campus.

Emma Haygood 8th Grade Teacher Berrien Springs Middle School, MI

Responses from educators around the country have praised the Techbook for effectively igniting curiosity and enhancing learning via a powerful, simple-to-use program, while measurably lowering school district costs and hardware overhead. nclud was proud to create a visual and interactive experience that has provided unrivaled content to support teachers, while engaging and inspiring students of all ages and pursuits.

Discovery Channel Education iPad Tablet & iPhone Mobile Design
Discovery Channel Education iPad Interaction Design
Discovery Channel Education iPhone Mobile Design
Discovery Channel Education Tablet Mobile Design
Discovery Channel Education Tablet Interactive Design

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