In-Context Training for Educators

Janis Yee  

How providing in-context guidance can reduce onboarding time and help educators to prepare for the busiest time of the year.

Empty seats in a classroom setting represent class sizes
Empty seats in a classroom setting represent class sizes.

Xello (formerly Career Cruising) is a leading developer of college and career readiness resources used by over 5 million students. I worked as the lead Product Designer on the Educator’s Tool revamp  This tool served as the intermediary between the administrators (who purchased the tool) and the teachers (who are told to use the tool).

Challenges and Context

How might we streamline the onboarding experience for teachers and administrators in preparation for the busy course selection time?

From the research, we knew that all educators have limited time. Many were even trying to do prep work while class was in session.

“I’m already a busy Administrator with barely enough time to eat lunch, and now they want me to do this too? I didn’t realize it would take this long.”

The Problems

  • The existing system involved over 40 hours of onboarding and tasks, including watching 4 long webinars and doing their ‘homework’ before it was ready to be launched to students. The process involved a dozen steps, each with many, many, sub-steps
  • Career Cruising’s frontline staff ironically spent more time nagging educators to complete their ‘homework’ and hand-holding them through the process than advising.
  • Educators tended to procrastinate, as they underestimate the amount of effort required to set up the system.

Starting Simply

We started with an audit of the total steps required, and questioned all of them.

  • Which ones were required, and which could be completed later?
  • Which ones could be automated?
  • Which ones could be completed within Career Cruising, and which ones were external?
  • Why do the Educators have to do all of them? Are there any that we can take on?

Many of the tasks involved validating the data entry of courses and ensuring the required exceptions were put in place for so students only select the correct courses.

We also questioned the webinars. Were these necessary? Did they really help educators understand the system better? Webinars could become outdated quickly as the software evolved, and therefore would be expensive to maintain.

So we ditched the webinars and reduced the total number of steps.

The Proposed Solution

Since the existing webinars and related steps were too far removed from the product, we decided to embed the onboarding experience  into the product. This would solve the problems two ways:

  1. Educators could not launch the Course Selection process until the setup was complete
  2. We could illustrate up-front the amount of effort required as they go.

Metrics of Success and Challenges

At the time of this writing, this solution is not yet live. It was challenging to get user research for this updated onboarding process as it required the attention of highly specialized individuals within the education system. In lieu, I worked closely with the front-line staff to validate the proposed solution.

Success measurements would include:

    • Reduction in urgent last minute support calls
    • Higher completion rate of onboarding
  • Reduction in the amount of time it takes to get up and running

Skills involved to solve this problem

  • Collaboration with multiple stakeholders
  • Systems and holistic thinking (Thinking beyond the screen)
  • Empathy for both internal front-line staff and educators

Important Note:

I’d love to show you the prototype however due to NDA constraints and with respect to my previous employer, I cannot publish the designed interface for this product. Please contact me for an interview.

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