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.
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.
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.