Achievement Loop

Say goodbye to that red pen

Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffreywarren/406469660

Background

Over the last several years, education technology has been an increasingly popular area of startup activity. Driven by growing smartphone penetration and the general availability of broadband Internet, young companies have slowly begun disrupting education technology stalwarts like Blackboard. In addition, the introduction of the ConnectED and Race to the Top created dozens of new opportunities for startups to help K-12 educators by leveraging technology. With years of experience working with teachers, Abby Neumeyer knew this was a unique opportunity and decided to jump in.

Overview

At a high level, Abby was looking to build a mobile app to allow K-12 school teachers to quickly provide audio feedback for student assignments. Instead of receiving papers full of red ink, students would be able to listen to audio feedback through a mobile app while following along with a written assignment. For teachers, recording audio feedback would be much faster than writing it out. And for students, the audio would hopefully prove a more engaging medium.

Abby began working on Achievement Loop by engaging a local UI/UX firm to develop a HTML/CSS mockup. By building the mockup, Abby was able to effectively convey her vision for the features and workflow for the app. Once the mockup was built, we joined the team to build the web app, mobile app and API.

Challenges

  • Effectively communicate technical considerations and challenges to a non-technical stakeholder
  • Minimize the project risk introduced by coordinating with a separate UI/UX team
  • Utilize a HTML5 "cross build" solution to deliver iOS and Android apps from a single codebase

Solution

As a business requirement, Abby wanted to build both an iOS and Android version during the beta to give her the most flexibility in demos and pitches. Unfortunately, given the budget constraints building two native apps wasn't going to be feasible. However, after reviewing the specs we decided that an HTML5 "cross build" solution would be work well, at least for the beta. After reviewing several options, we eventually settled on Phonegap because of its strong community and extensive documentation.

Even though we were building a "beta", we decided to break up development into the API and mobile components to facilitate separation of concerns and a RESTful API. With the components separated, we adopted an agile approach and iteratively built the API and mobile apps in sync.  From an engineering perspective, our approach resulted in a RESTful API along with HTML5 powered iOS and Android apps, which could eventually be swapped for native versions.

After just under 2 months of development, we successfully published both an iOS and Android app to their respective stores. Following the build, Abby has been demoing, receiving feedback, and we're looking forward to iterating on the product with her moving forward.

"Working with Setfive has been great. During each step in the app’s development, Setfive has been responsive to feedback from early users and myself. The Setfive team is flexible and takes the time to brainstorm with clients to seek solutions that enhance your product. I look forward to continuing to partner with Setfive in subsequent iterations of Achievement Loop."

Web and mobile versions of Achievement Loop