Greetings, educators! In this article, get a sneak peek of the new classroom experience in Kiddom and hear from members of Kiddom's Product and Design teams on decisions behind the rebuild.
During the 2020-2021 school year, many teachers and students were catapulted into using technology for teaching and learning in new and different ways. While there were many challenges to this rapid shift to distance learning, there were also many lessons learned about how students and teachers interact with technology tools, and with each other, to facilitate learning.
In response to these shifts, Kiddom’s Product and Design teams dug into how teachers and learners have adapted their use of technology in and out of the classroom, with the hopes of putting their findings towards a new and improved experience. Today, they are excited to introduce a new interface for Kiddom users - the new Kiddom Classroom. Kiddom Classroom offers more, and more streamlined, ways for teachers to use Kiddom for classroom management, instruction, and assessment, supported by deeply integrated communication tools.
Here, we sat down with members of the team that worked on Kiddom Classroom to get their thoughts on how it came to be, what they’re most excited about, and how Kiddom will continue to empower learning.
What was the inspiration for making a change to Kiddom’s UI?
James: When making any change to Kiddom we look at a number of things: quantitative metrics on how Kiddom is being used by teachers and students, qualitative feedback from current users and those around the education space, and by keeping up with educational trends in publications and communities. Plus, while teachers and students spent so much more time using technology tools during the 2020-2021 school year than usual, we got a ton of great feedback on what was working and what wasn’t. Based on what we were seeing, it was time for Kiddom to make some changes to better serve our users.
Peter: One thing we saw was teachers trying to juggle teaching to two distinct audiences at one time as many teachers worked in a hybrid model - those in the physical classroom and those on a video-conferencing tool. While that won’t be the norm going forward, having to manage those two distinct audiences brought about a host of challenges for teachers that gave us inspiration for how Kiddom could better serve teachers across all learning models.
What can teachers and students expect from the new navigation and user experience?
Peter: Making changes to navigation always feels like a balancing act - we want to improve the experience while not changing things so significantly that it disrupts how users use Kiddom. We had a few big things we wanted to accomplish in updating the navigation: making it easier to access key pages, consolidating navigation, and creating more space for content and assignments, especially on lo-res devices like Chromebooks or tablets.
How did usage data drive the updates?
James: One of the most popular features that we rolled out during the last school year was Announcements - our usage metrics showed that many teachers were posting classroom updates, assignment news, and more using Announcements. Because this was such a highly adopted feature, we knew we had to make it even better! Announcements are now viewable from multiple screens so students can see what’s going on in announcements, from wherever they’re working within Kiddom.
Then, we knew that announcements needed to be able to do more. We talked to teachers, looked at other technologies that students use, and thought about how classroom communication works to see what else would be important to add. We came up with a few key things.
Ben: Yeah! Thinking about how communication works in classrooms really helped us decide where to focus our updates. When a teacher makes an announcement in an in-person classroom, they see the students facial expressions and immediate reactions. It lets the teacher have an immediate read of student responses. We wanted to give teachers a similar “quick read” in the Kiddom Classroom so we added emoji reactions. Students can react to an announcement with an emoji, giving teachers the ability to quickly see the class sentiment. Plus, this kind of reaction option feels familiar to students - they use emojis to react in many of the other apps they use everyday.
James: The other thing we dug into on announcements was how does classroom communication really work? Our original announcements feature acted like one long continuous conversation.
Ben: In digging in, we found that wasn’t really how in-class communication worked. It’s not really one long conversation, but multiple conversations throughout the day. To better represent this, we’ve added threaded commenting to Announcements. This means that several conversations can be taking place at one time, on different topics. This is more in line with what happens in in-person classrooms and makes it easier to scroll back to a particular topic.
You mentioned hybrid learning environments above, how did that inform this new design?
James: One thing that seems to have changed in education is the definition of “in class”. Because there’s now a year of teachers and students teaching and learning from a variety of physical locations, it’s not outlandish to think that there may be more options in the future.
Peter: Having grown up in New England, one of the worst things I heard was that there might not be snow days in the future! Students will just fire up their learning tools from home when the weather is inclement. This is great for continuity of learning but maybe not so great for making sledding memories!
James: Well, sure. But if students need to stay home for, say, a cold or are staying at a grand-parents house for a few days, there should be options in place to help them keep up with their coursework. This flexibility was top of mind when we worked on the redesign.
Ben: The new Classroom view represents all the students in the classroom, with some activity markers - green if they’re active, and so on. If the teacher is teaching in-person, there will be student avatars visible. If the teacher is teaching remotely using our integrated video conferencing tool Kiddom Live, there will be student video feeds visible. If students are in multiple places, there will be a mix of avatars and video on the screen, helping teachers bridge the gaps when students are in multiple locations. These synchronous tools work to redefine the “classroom”; rather than being a physical room, it’s a “place where learning occurs”.
If teachers or administrators have feedback, how can they let us know?
Peter: We’re always really excited to get feedback from teachers! When you log into Kiddom, you’ll start to see quick some surveys about Kiddom. You can also join our Educator Brain Trust, a group of teachers who we regularly reach out to for feedback. Or, you can always work with your CSM to schedule a feedback session with one of us!
Kiddom seamlessly connects the most critical aspects of teaching and learning on one platform.
For the first time, educators can share and manage digital curriculum, differentiate instruction, and assess student work in one platform with integrated tools for communication.
Thinking about bringing Kiddom to your school or district?
Connect with us in a 15-minute meeting to learn more about available pre-packaged curriculum by Open Up Resources, and how the Kiddom education platform can support your learning community.
Is digital curriculum part of the new normal? We think yes. That’s why we’re excited to announce a forthcoming online event from Kiddom.
ModEL Detroit Slides are available as a supplement to the EL Education curriculum in Kiddom. Each deck is aligned to its associated lesson for easy access.
Hear how various educators are using Kiddom to prepare for distance learning, hybrid, or in-person blended learning. Get your copy of the guide below.