Case Study: Improving Professional Development for Teachers

The quality of learning in a classroom is measured by its teachers, and the quality of an educator is influenced by their professional development. Recognizing this, Learning Forward created a pioneering process for school districts to measure a district's PD capabilities.

Mobility Labs, a longstanding partner of ours, did a great job with Learning Forward in the ideation and design process. Together with them, we built a fast, easy, and efficient tool to leverage Learning Forward’s powerful redesign process.

This project was built with Ruby on Rails for the backend and React for the frontend.

We've been working with Life on Mars and the founders for over 4 years. They proved themselves reliable in architecture and software development. They are now our go to for large projects with difficult technical challenges. The culture fit and communication between our teams has been great. I recommend them if you need quality software built. Sean Perkins CEO and Founder at Mobility Labs

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Open-source reuse

To maximize value for Learning Forward and end users, we built the application on existing open source solutions, rather than starting from scratch. This allowed us to implement more collaboration and communication features than would normally be possible given the timeline.

In particular, we were able to extend an existing open source assessment tool, PDRedesign, built in partnership with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. We had contributed to PDRedesign in the past, and as such had a great grasp of its architecture. This allowed us to dramatically cut costs by lifting and adapting existing functionality.

During this process, we took the time to bring PDRedesign’s core into 2017 by upgrading its codebase to Ruby on Rails 5.1.

Team collaboration

In order to ensure maximum velocity and ROI, our team was in constant contact with the team at Mobility Labs. They played the role of product owner, which ensured our team was always on track with backlog priorities and changing requirements.

The development process was very streamlined, with Mobility Labs providing detached UI components which we integrated in the frontend and wired up to the application server.

Onboarding contributors with Docker

In order to cut down the onboarding time for each contributor in the project, we started by creating a Docker environment that everyone could share. This ensured that the regular set-up time of installing and configuring the necessary toolset was essentially cut down to zero. No fiddling around with Mac vs Linux, no dependency management headaches, no versioning problems.

Additionally, the project can be deployed using Docker as well, avoiding unnecessary issues with differences between environments.

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