Written by: Pamela Gaudet, Sr. K12 Product Strategy Manager
Ever think about how most days in your life are relatively similar – maybe it’s a weekday, and you have pretty much the same breakfast, drink some coffee or tea, and then start your day? There are problems to solve, meetings to attend, and deadlines.
If you’re a teacher or a professor, you have classes to teach, assessments to grade whenever you can find the time; along with paperwork, planning, research, and more duties. There’s a pace, a constancy, a routine, a rhythm day-by-day. Some days have variety, but many days are usually similar.
Let’s think about a day one year ago.
Now, one year later, think about all the things that happened over the past 365 days. Maybe you moved, got a new job, were promoted, had a child, graduated college, university, or graduate school, bought a car, took a vacation, published articles or a book, or saw students or your children graduate to another grade or level.
Your day-by-day seemed like a routine, but when you look back on a year, a lot happened. It’s incremental.
Product development is like that. Features and functions may seem to suddenly to appear in Brightspace like “Oh look – Hot spot! It’s in the product now!”
What you don’t see is how the work to create that feature happens day-by-day, incrementally, with many people working on different aspects of the feature behind the scenes. When developing one feature, the impact on other features and on the structure of Brightspace must be considered holistically; and the impact on the workflow of the teacher, instructor, or corporate manager must remain useful and simple.
Sometimes a feature requires the revamping of a workflow or screen. We always want our software to “make sense”, be fluid to navigate, have important tools located together, and reflect the best practices of teaching and learning. This means taking care to design, test, and develop software that adheres to solid instructional design.
Many people are involved in this process, starting with the initial idea. Often these ideas come from existing users of Brightspace. Next, there’s writing stories which describe the feature, designing the flow and the screens, programming the feature, testing the feature, sharing an early version internally and with potential users, then scheduling the release and going live.
Sometimes a feature is developed and then “held back” until another integral feature is also developed as it won’t flow correctly alone. The first feature is flagged to release when the other feature is ready, and then both are released together.
Incrementally, day-by-day, Brightspace gets better and better with regular intervals of released features that have been through a complex process with many hands and minds working together.
Our goal is to transform the way the world learns through incremental, intentional improvements and enhancements so that learning can be accessible, engaging, and inspiring one day at a time.
Pamela Gaudet is Sr. K12 Product Strategy Manager for D2L. She started her K12 career as a teacher and technology director for schools, then moved to developing ed tech software still used by millions of learners. She’s the author of two education technology books as well as articles for EdWeek’s Digital Direction, Technology & Learning, eSchoolNews, and several other publications.