This User Group Takes a Deep Dive into the School User Experience

Charles Sosnik, Learning Counsel Editor

The Learning Counsel is a research institute and news media hub headquartered in Sacramento. Its membership includes approximately 215,000 superintendents and assistant superintendents, technology and instructional administrators, curriculum specialists, education publishers and educational leaders from pre-k through higher ed.

As the Learning Counsel helps guide education professionals through the shift to digital curriculum, they have become an intermediary between schools and technology companies, helping educators navigate the $23 Billion curriculum industry to find positive outcomes for their learners.

Schools and districts work with The Learning Counsel to find help transitioning to digital curriculum, gain awareness of new resources and write their goals and policies.

One of the benefits for Learning Counsel members is KnowStory, an agnostic sharing and recommendations platform designed to help schools with needed discovery and analysis related to digital content and curriculum. KnowStory Learning Groups explore vital topics and catalyze the curriculum industry. Each group has a sponsored (industry) chairmanship role as well as an education-side chairperson, live meetings online, and an in-person working meeting at the Learning Counsel National Gathering each year. 



One of the most effective Learning Groups this year is the Instructional Digital Design/Academic Models – UX (User Experience) Group, co-chaired by Robin Gonzales, founder and president of Zia Learning, a company that designs, develops and implements personalized learning programs in schools. UX Group members are tasked with defining a good user experience for teachers, students, parents and administrators. The group examines the user experience at the teacher and student levels, as well as new classroom models, discussing how software structures, systems, curriculum maps and new frameworks are designed and the implications to education and the digital transition.



In a recent live online meeting, Learning Counsel Founder LeiLani Cauthen illustrated how the user experience was changing education in America. “Seven percent of American students have left the building for unschooling or homeschooling,” said Cauthen. “This is about 1.1 million greater than the charter school population, and it is the fastest growing movement in America. It accelerated in 2017, due in part to fear of violence and bullying, problems with curriculum, and desire for family. That's what the data is showing. But that is only part of the story. Families are also being pried from public education roles by the promise of a better education user experience.

“If you're in California like me, you saw constant advertising over the summer from k-12 and private online education institutions like Laurel Springs and others. They're convincing people that they don't have to go anywhere to get an education. We should pay attention to this in terms of the user experience. It has to do with all those things that I was just talking about. A sense of family, the ability to be entirely mobile and the buildout of a fully digital pathway with the insertion of teachers at interception points, like chat-box windows with live teachers if you need them or a teacher that automatically gets online if they see that you're stuck. Here in Sacramento, there are mall storefronts that feature Fuel Education or Innovations in Learning and they have science labs in them as part of their ‘online program.’ UX just took a new dimension. It's been doing that for a little while. But, the dimension of those elements, I think, are really critical to this conversation.”