By: Lindsey Oh – Guest Author on February 8th, 2017
Why This Brand-New Online Tool Will Help Districts Implement Initiatives More Effectively
A few months ago Education Elements launched an online tool called Touchpoint. Touchpoint was designed for the districts we support. As our design & implementation consultants work with districts to support their personalized learning (PL) initiatives, the tool helps organize the project members, workshop schedules, related resources and action items in one place. If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes digging through your inbox and said something like, “What was the title of the email that had the meeting agenda attached?” you can bet your pretty penny that Touchpoint will be a lifesaver for you. All of your project stuff in one place -- heaven!
We are really excited about all that Touchpoint offers and have started a phased rollout to just a few pioneering districts. That way we can learn what the actual users of the tool think about it and iterate and improve quickly (sound similar to our design work?)! We really appreciate these “early adopter” districts for their willingness to experiment with something new. During the week of January 9th, we - for the first time - used Touchpoint at Marion and Syracuse school districts. Overall the introduction went really well and we came back with lots of ideas for improvement! I talked to our product manager, Justin, client services team lead, Cory, and design & implementation consultant, Dana, about the launch week. Here is what they had to say:
Q: What does Touchpoint do? How does it help our district and school partners?
- [Justin] Touchpoint is a cloud-based tool that complements the on-the-ground support that our consultants provide. It helps to create alignment between the district and each school staff around the plan and work needed to implement PL. It also centralizes all project resources into one place.
- [Dana] Touchpoint is going to be revolutionary for communication across district and school teams. As someone who used to plan district-wide professional development, I know firsthand how many emails and calls I used to get from schools asking when upcoming district meetings and the associated resources were. Having the ability to see in one place the action steps and completion of tasks for schools across the district will be useful for districts from our largest to smallest.
Q: That is pretty cool! So how was Touchpoint used at Marion and Syracuse?
- [Dana] Both Marion and Syracuse had their Steps to Launch workshops a few weeks ago, which is the last prep session before districts/schools begin to roll out personalized learning in their classroom. At Marion, school PL team members logged into Touchpoint prior to the workshop and completed their pre-work. At both districts, school teams used Touchpoint during the workshop session to access their agenda and view upcoming workshops.
Q: What did those district folks need to do to prepare for the use of Touchpoint, if anything?
- [Dana] District staff didn’t have to do anything to prepare, though many of them chose to provide amazing feedback as early-phase users.
Q: How did the workshop attendees get trained on the tool? What were their reactions to the tool?
- [Cory] The best training for Touchpoint is to use it. The workshop attendees were given account login information and they started exploring right away! We gave them the step-by-step directions to help them guide through finding meeting details and finding related resources. The reaction and feedback we received from the attendees were super encouraging; they told us that the Touchpoint design is intuitive and easy to understand. We also received helpful feedback about how to make this tool even easier to use, and some gave us other thoughts and requests for other useful features and improvements. Just like our personalized learning implementation process, we are excited to reflect & iterate based on the invaluable feedback we received.
Q: What ‘WOW’ed the users about Touchpoint the most?
- [Justin] Both Marion and Syracuse folks were excited about having all project resources in one place the most. A number of people shared how they always spend more time than they would like searching through emails and old documents looking for a resource they need, and Touchpoint immediately gave them a way to quench this pain point.
Q: What did the users wish Touchpoint had? What is your plan to accommodate their wishes?
- [Justin] A few users asked for a single screen so that they could sort through all of the project resources -- we already built that and hope to release that feature soon. There were also a few requests to give users a way to comment on individual meetings and actions; people see value in being able to discuss an individual workshop or action. Finally, we heard and observed that many users wished to have a clearer navigation path from one page to another; our user experience designer is working on designs to improve this user navigation flow.
Q: Why did you select Marion and Syracuse as the first districts to get to try Touchpoint?
- [Cory] As we were developing the tool, we had a chance to talk about it with a few districts and Marion and Syracuse were two of them. They immediately engaged with us and showed high level of interest in trying out this new tool, even though the tool is in its early stage of development. They agreed to not only use the tool as early-users but also provide the invaluable feedback for improvement! We are very thankful for their pioneering spirit.
Q: What is the plan for all Education Elements’ districts using Touchpoint? Who should people talk to if they have questions about Touchpoint?
- [Cory] We are now working with several of our districts to set up meetings and resources in Touchpoint, preparing them to start to use it for their one-stop PL project management tool. Districts can contact their design and implementation consultant to ask questions or request to learn more about using Touchpoint. Anyone can also contact Education Elements by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or filling out this contact form to learn more about Touchpoint.
Q: Any other insights you’d like to share from your launch week at Marion and Syracuse?
- [Justin] It is important that we continue to spend time with our users, work with them, observe their use of Touchpoint tool, and put their feedback to use. Spending time with our users helps us to identify new opportunities for the product that we might not have thought of -- like having School PL teams use Touchpoint’s roadmap feature to manage their PD calendars.
- [Cory] We are excited to expand our early access program and engage with more districts to use Touchpoint. The feedback we received validated to us that the Touchpoint design is easy to learn and use, and with more use and feedback from additional districts we will continue to improve usability and features to make their PL journeys more organized and successful.
- [Dana] As a member of the Design & Implementation team, I’m just excited about the way that Touchpoint is going to amplify the efforts that our team and our partner districts are making to provide personalized learning for each student. Touchpoint is going to make our job easier so that we can together give each student the learning experience he or she needs and deserves.