How Krengeltech are re-inventing online learning for the better
When specialists in IT consultancy, Krengeltech, wanted to find a new approach to online education, we were happy to step in.
Krengeltech provides specialist IT consultancy and services to fortune 500 clients from their base in Minnesota, USA. They needed a new type of learning management system (LMS) for their private and public sector clients as many systems currently on the market are not a good fit for today’s learners. Problems with existing LMS systems included security vulnerability, poor or non-existent mobile experience, or use of legacy code that is no longer market-safe.
SystemSeed were asked to create a new LMS that Krengeltech could use with both enterprise clients and schools. The result was Anu Version One, an easy to use and mobile responsive education platform, designed for personal development.
It is a fully decoupled Drupal 8 and React.js distribution, and functions include multi-media authoring, quizzes and assessments, progress monitoring, and a conversation function that enables a-synchronous communication between users.
Whenever I am talking to or about SystemSeed, I always say that everyday feels like Christmas because more work has been done and they are always developing and improving… We feel like we have struck gold with SystemSeed.
How we did it
As an open and forward-thinking client, Krengeltech were able to run fast with us - easily adopting our agile approach and working with us as a blended team.
For us, agile means doing the right things at the right time, and Krengeltech joined in. We started off by focusing on research and front-loaded the first sprint in terms of budget to ensure solid foundations for the project. In sprints two and three we worked on delivering core functionality. This meant that in sprints four and five (when budget became more of a priority), we could ensure we were tying up loose ends rather than building new functionality, because of all the effort put in early on.
We started with a landscape review to assess the benefits and problems associated with existing LMS systems. We looked at everything from MIT’s open-source LMS, Open EdX, to Moodle (proprietary software used by several universities).
What this highlighted was that no single, currently available package could do everything Krengeltech wanted to the level they needed, confirming that a custom-built solution was required.
Research & Requirements
Our education and User Experience (UX) specialists worked closely with Candice and Hannah at Krengeltech to identify the real needs of their new system. She looked at common learning requirements from schools that we’d want to bring in to Anu. These included:
Courses, lessons and classes. We naturally think about undertaking learning in subject-specific chunks that are broken down into consumable lessons and classes.
Learning where you are. You can take a book on a bus but that’s harder with a laptop, so we needed to create a mobile responsive solution that would also allow offline use.
Using different types of learning materials. A mix of written, spoken, and graphical content is expected by learners and complements different learning styles.
Making notes. Documenting personal interpretations of content and building connections between ideas helps solidify our understanding of information.
Talking to classmates and teachers. Online learning doesn’t have to be done in isolation. Asking questions of other learners or the teacher, and being able to check your understanding really helps.
Highlighting text. Identifying and logging important sentences and paragraphs is not just about being able to find them again, it actually helps the information to stay in our memories.
The Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Within six weeks of starting this project, we had a prototype to test on Krengeltech’s potential buyers. This speed was a result of the strength of our blended team and the very agile approach we used. To achieve this timescale we had to de-scope the highlighting functionality for Anu Version One, and it’s on our list for inclusion in Version Two.
Krengeltech were able to show Anu to some of their most forward-thinking clients and we gathered valuable feedback from them. As they began to use Anu we continued to prioritise and make changes until Anu Version One was ready for beta release.
We provided close support for the first eight months of Anu’s use and continue to offer community support and maintain an open slack channel for questions and answers.
Setting up the hosting for Anu Version One, and managing the hosting supplier, was a straightforward exercise, helped by our close relationship with Krengeltech.