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Designing for adoption of a new educational framework

Developing a digital experience and strategic toolkit

Using Design sprints and gamification to develop a digital experience and strategic toolkit for introduction and support adoption of a new developmental framework for schools offering International Baccalaureate programmes to build their learning environments and curricula


The Challenge 

The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers four educational programmes to more than 1.95 million students aged 3 to 19 across the globe. International schools across the world offer these four educational programmes after being authorized by the IB to do so. One of the important criteria for schools to achieve authorization is The Programme Standards and Practices. The Programme Standards and Practices(PSP) provides critical information for the planning, implementation, development,and evaluation of all International Baccalaureate® (IB) programmes.  

The PSP undergoes continuous innovation and revision cycles and in 2018, a new PSP was to be launched. This case study covers the development of the digital touchpoint and the contextual research and design of a strategic tool that helps in the easy adoption and understanding of a new Programme Standards and Practices, introduced by International Baccalaureate in 2018 for its affiliated as well as prospective schools, to ensure quality and fidelity in the implementation of its educational programmes. 


Digital experience design 

Conducting design sprints to align stakeholders

To begin with, we started with the development of a digital resource for schools and IB educator network(IBEN), both needed a shared understanding of what the PSP were and how they are incorporated into school culture, learning and teaching.  

We conducted a compact design sprint with different IB stakeholders and invited school representatives to participate and:  

  • Understand (Day 1) -- sharing experiences, establishing who will use the resources (personas), mapping the journey, and setting goals for the sprint  
  • Diverge (Day 2) -- rapid prototyping of different ideas and templates, choosing which ideas to focus on for a single template  
  • Decide (Day 2) -- develop designs,reflect on process, refine, and finalize ideas  

In our sprint, we had three pressing issues to consider as part of our design: 

  • How will a new PSP digital product mediate between schools, IBEN and IB staff? 
  • How does the PSP connect and relate with other programme documentation?  
  • Should the user-facing version of the PSP use codes? How can we label the PSP so that it is usable across all languages?   



Developing the digital experience 

The digital experience was going to be launched on an existing portal that is the designated place for all resources published by the IB. So, the constraint was to create the digital experience within those parameters along with innovating for the different user personas and the journeys.  


User testing 

As is the case with a design sprint, we created a prototype with a set of screens to test with potential users. We recruited users from our IB community and conducted think aloud sessions where they were asked to click though screens and talk about their experience.



The IB holds conferences for its educators in different cities around the world, three times a year. They offer a good opportunity for user research and testing but the conference governance limits us only to focus groups as a methodology.

I designed the research exercise and trained one of the team members to conduct focus groups in IB conferences. The conference attendees who were IB educators were shown these screens and the navigation and asked about their overall experience, what they were missing and what kind of problems and issues they could think of while implementing these standards and practice in schools. These focus groups were recorded. 

After transcription and analysis, I used the feedback from the conferences to derive insights and offer recommendations to improve the design and the content design. The website is integrated into the main resources website now and is used by our IB community.



Developing a strategic toolkit to support adoption and implementation 

Generative research 

Before starting with the new framework, studying the structure of the old framework and how they are used by the school stakeholders was important. I conducted desk and primary user research with a group of educators in schools and found out how they worked with the current framework. It was a sort of checklist and they had to ensure compliance.   

The new framework was not compliance-based and required a different modus operandi. To start with, the new framework had fourlevels in a nested hierarchy. First came the foundational principles, then thestandards to be followed, then practices that included references to implementation and finally requirements that were more specific and refined measures of implementation of the relevant programme. The educators had to work through this hierarchy to create their own school's strategy for development. 

The Design Process 

Brainstorming and ideation helped us narrow down to work on creating a game concept around this process of creating themes. Our goal behind this was that the user should be able to create a theme or motif with certain constraints and then design and develop this game concept to an appropriate digital or physical product for the users to engage with.  

I brainstormed with the curriculum expert who created the framework to understand what was required of the educators and school leaders- what were the rules of engagement with this framework and how could they navigate through this in the most engaging and easy manner. There were four areas they could work with to create themes: Learning, Purpose, Environment and Culture. These themes would help the schools create their developmental paths. 

We thought of creating a digital tool to help them craft these developmental paths but before taking a big step, we brainstormed and generated more ideas.  The framework sections were numbered in such a manner to ensure that they were suitable for developing into digital systems later. To start with a lo- fi prototype that may help in user testing, I created four different sections to represent each of the framework sections and printed them on cards. 

 Some cards from Learning(blue) and Purpose(green) 



Gamification through a deck of cards to introduce a new developmental framework for schools


I worked with the curriculum expert to create a set of introduction and instructional cards. These were printed and used in a number of workshops with educators from schools where they were asked to create these themes (called motifs in image below) in groups and share their feedback.  

The card explaining the idea of 'motif' (theme) and the rules of the game 


The instruction cards and the face cards of each section of theframework 


User testing 

The card decks were improved upon after feedback from different workshops conducted during international conferences held by International Baccalaureate. They were also used in a pilot project andoutreach activities by the IB to introduce this new set of standards and principles to some school. After numerous iterations considering feedback from these workshops, the card deck was handed over to the schools department that would decide the further journey of this tool. 



Educators in a workshop using it to construct their schools’developmental themes 


Impact and reflections 

The card deck was not converted to a digital tool but is now provided as a part of starter kit to introduce prospective IB schools to Programme Standards and Practices and the game is beneficial for schools tocraft their development paths. It is used by the school interfacing IB World school managers as a part of their onboarding process for schools. 

The feedback received has indicated that the gamification of this framework makes it easier for educators to understand and construct themes, introduces an aspect of play and encourages reflection andthinking. 





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