Case Study

Education Super Highway

Accelerating Broadband in Education

 

TIMELINE: Four months

PROJECT TEAM: Data Scientist, Four Engineers, PM

DESIGN TEAM: Me

PARTNERS: Presence, Obama Administration

Education Super Highway (ESH) is a San Francisco based nonprofit founded to bring broadband Internet access to every public school student in the US. In 2015 ESH was building an online application to collect, analyze, and report a massive dataset that includes information about all public school’s Internet access, WAN and LAN configuration, and Internet Service Provider costs to be used by school district administrators, state legislatures and governors, as well as Federal policy makers.

Running into too many technical hurdles and lacking a clear design strategy, ESH engaged with the technology firm Presence to get two senior developers and myself to help them create an application that was both functional and delightful to use. Originally I was hired for just two weeks of “touch up” design on the application ESH had already built (see below).

Once ESH saw the power of great design, my contract was extended to four months in order to create an entirely new and improved user experience for the entire application. Through many brainstorming sessions with the in-house data scientist and several rounds of interviews with target audience members testing early prototypes we were able to present the data to school, state, and federal stakeholders in a manner that is clear, engaging, and easy to use.

The new application provided detailed information about how much each school is paying for Internet access, and tools for comparing to nearby schools and districts. This allowed schools to negotiate with ISPs from an informed position to get better rates on connectivity. State and Federal legislators were able to see data trends graphically and geographically, district by district and state by state, enabling them to direct attention and funds to the appropriate schools.

Outcomes

The clarity and strong call to actions of the newly designed connectivity portal propelled ESH's mission to close the classroom connectivity gap by 2020 ahead of their target goal. In the span of 2015-16 I continued working with ESH designing several other initiatives to further accelerate that goal. In collaboration we created:

  • The connectivity portal used by thousands of school district administrators, state legislatures and governors, as well as Federal policy makers to successfully deliver broadband Internet access to every public school student by 2020.

  • A fiber assessment toolkit for schools and districts to learn, assess and solve their fiber needs.

  • State of the States Report giving the public insights into all progress and spendings by their governors viewable as a responsive web experience.

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