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13 Years of working with the
K-12 Tech Industry.

My Introductory Role

When I first started with Schoolwires back in 2008, the company was just starting to come out of the start up phase. I was positioned with a role as a "creative designer" designing and developing front end web experiences for k-12 clients. At the time I was developing using basic CSS and HTML and FLASH. If Flash isn't enough of a blast from the past, I was also using the latest and great program, Macromedia Fireworks. 

Over my 13 year career with Schoolwires (acquired by Blackboard in 2014) I made conscientious decisions to grow and contribute to the processes and product for the betterment of our client's experience as well as the company's goals.

The Initial Process 
circa 2008 under the initial version of Centricity, the Content Management System of Schoolwires.

Discover
The Discover process initially consisted as a 30-60 minute phone call with a very straight forward set of requirements to check off. Collecting a list of items, branding and logo, navigation items, homepage content modules, footer information and what style best reflected their district.  

Design

The Design process was working off of the requirements built from the Discovery Meeting. Using the colors and logos from branding and laying out a homepage and sample of interior page, using the industry standard 800x600 of the time and presenting by firing off an email with attached .jpgs. 

  

Develop

Coding using CSS and HTML was all done in Dreamweaver and then imported into the CMS. Flash was used to specify specific areas of the template that could have different colors applied to help personify each school's color schemes in the district.

Deploy

After the templates were tested, they were handed off to the client to input any content before the site's were launched. At the time we had a Word doc that would be sent with instructions on how to manage their content and push their site live.

Continuous improvement and enhancements to process and product.
Working directly with clients and internal teams created an environment of continuous improvement. As the next evolution of the Centricity CMS was preparing for release, our teams were able to work cross-functionally to provide continuous feedback loops between the clients and product. 

On the Creative Team's front, which largely consisted of 6 Ui/Ux designers and 6 front end developers, we were able to collaborate together to formalize our client facing process. I lead research on creating a more robust sign off process that ensured that the client and our team were in alignment and delivering exactly what was promised. Our client retention was consistently 96-98%.

Largely, the four step client facing process remained unchanged (discover, design, develop and deploy), but enhancements were made as new technologies were emerging. Working with our team to create buy-in and understanding, I was able to show our team how to really hone in and gather information during Discovery to break through creative fatigue; adding new categories of interview questions and showing how preliminary research could add value to each client project.

In 2013, I lead a research initiative around Adaptive and Responsive, which at the time was the next iteration of the web. I gathered evidence and information proving value to creating this as an offering and worked with our Lead Developer to implement a means of developing for Adaptive design. 

During the two weeks of research, I strategically offered Adaptive to Del Mar Unified School District, neighboring with San Diego Unified School District, which was part of the top 200 districts in the United States. Schoolwires became the first in the k-12 industry to offer mobile friendly web presences and because of these offerings we were able to land San Diego USD. 

Over my timeline with Schoolwires/Blackboard, I became extremely interested in product design and worked cross functionally to provide direct insights from client's and report bugs. Since I had direct feedback loops, I was able to design multiple widget and offerings that our client's needed in order to get their content and information to their districts. This includes an emergency announcement system and headlines features that encompassed what previous versions lacked. 

I continued to research and adopt emerging technologies, vetting different applications to help make our team more efficient and to improve communications. I had championed utilizing InVision as a means to create interactive prototypes, share and gather feedback all in one streamlined location. This became an industry standard for us as it created a better means to articulate developer specs and for our clients to communicate changes in a more cohesive means. Implementing InVision had saved 4-8 hours of time per each project.

Sample Designs
Each of the client's had a different package level that denoted the hours allotted for the design and development process. Within the design process there would be concepts that were shown to articulate the homepage and all apps that were custom designed as well as interior page layout and showing the adaptive breakdown focusing on the three major breakpoints.

Unless the project's goal was specifically intended for a short marketing timeline, I worked with client's to design concepts that would last 3-7 years, ensuring that the design would not appear dated. My other area of focus was ensuring that a client would be able to easily update and maintain relevant and up-to-date information. If a design was too technical or encompassed too many areas that could easily become dated, I would encourage clients and guide them to choices that they felt comfortable keeping up-to-date.  

District49

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Fairfield-Suisun USD

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Liberty Public Schools 53

Liberty 53 Desktop

Liberty was a super tech savvy district with a lot of great information to share with the community.

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Liberty Mobile
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MOORE Public Schools

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OHM BOCES

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