Crimson Global Academy (CGA), an online high school created by Crimson Education, was breaking the norm when it came to online schooling. Being one of the first in country and leading the world in a new learning experience also came with its challenges. As such, CGA Home was created to help alleviate the issues of a disorganised online experience for most students. Though it does much more now, take a journey through where it began.
It didn't take long for a new hire like myself to learn what hoops our students have to jump through in order to join a class, submit an assignment, view class material, and watch recordings. To be fair, Crimson Global Academy had started just before the first COVID wave hit New Zealand – it was in a good position to start taking students and start teaching, but the array of tools students and teachers used daily created a disjointed and bothersome experience.
The goal we set was to create a central area within our system for our users, primarily students, to seamlessly log in and view their day, tasks, and calendar along with any school and subject announcements a student may need during their schooling just as they would in a regular school.
The success of the CGA Home learning management system (LMS) was largely dependent on a thorough understanding of its target audience and the market it would operate. We researched other LMS products and an analysis of the key features and functionalities that users require. The research process helps to identify the unique needs of students and teachers alike.
Interviews with students and school operations staff
We created a rough prototype with the features that we thought the users might like based on the offerings of other LMS. We also integrated pages of the Crimson App and Canvas, tools that were fragmented parts of their experience, serving different purposes.
The below prototype was presented to our subjects and we observed their interactions, issues, and the time taken to complete tasks and noted their opinions on using the tools. With this information, we were able to make more concrete decisions about what CGA Home should consist of.
With the rollout of CGA Home, the scope now stretched to include a teacher experience too, and rightfully so. Our goal from the beginning was for a central place for all students to find and carry out tasks – it only makes sense for teachers to be on the same platform too.
We started with marking attendance.
Teachers previously used an attendance platform that didn’t cater to full-time online learning, and even then, it was considered the best platform available. For New Zealand standards, there were some compliance requirements that it couldn’t meet, hence we had to patch the gaps. This time, we created our own system that was
For teachers, the platform should provide:
an attendance system that makes it easy to mark grades in class, reduce overall late or forgotten attendance completion
a 7-day glance to highlight any unfinished attendance marking
management of a student or class
Make it less prone to data loss and user-generated errors.
I took inspiration from online flight booking sites – their display of dates and metadata was concise yet insightful enough to make a decision. For decisions going ahead, we sat with teachers to understand