How might we provide high-quality professional development to afterschool educators around the nation?
Science Action Club is a blended learning program that now serves 500+ educators in 15 U.S. states.
The California Academy of Sciences is a science museum that offers an afterschool program called Science Action Club (SAC). My work helped expand SAC to 15 states across the nation.
Many afterschool educators lack formal training in education and work multiple part-time jobs. They require curriculum and professional development to be effective at their role.
Science Action Club (SAC) is a professional development provider in the afterschool space. Based on a number of conversations and interviews, I came up with a list of characteristics common among SAC's educators.
Here are two sample personas of SAC educators.
My team created a blended learning program to train our educator network. Accordingly, each educator would go through an online training and an in-person workshop.
The service blueprint below builds out the specific exchanges of information and artifacts during SAC's training process.
SAC needed to transition from a product to a service in order to provide an end-to-end experience for our users.
Most mature products are designed as services to create an end-to-end user experience. The Science Action Club service includes tangible products (such as an online learning course), multiple artifact-based touchpoints (including recruiting material and surveys), as well as a steady stream of communication.
I worked on establishing a design system for Science Action Club's online trainings. Here are some of the system's atoms.
I led the design and development of an online training platform, called the Educator Portal, to scale SAC's impact from 5 sites in the Bay Area to 500 sites across the U.S.
Here is a sample flow showing the different sections of the Educator Portal.
In addition to a website, the Educator Portal is also accessible via an iPad app.
We organized a user test with 25 educators and employed contextual observation as well as think alouds to capture our results.
Many educators had trouble summarizing the key takeaways from each section of the training.
We added summary slides at regular intervals to reinforce the most important information from each section.
The online training was too long for our educators to complete in one go.
We sprinkled Take a Break slides throughout the training to remind our educators to take regular breaks.
Many educators wanted the training to be more interactive so they could validate their progress.
We added knowledge checks throughout the training to allow our educators to test and augment their learning.
Science Action Club now offers three curriculum modules via the Educator Portal. Each module includes a guidebook, a kit, access to the online training, and an invitation to an in-person workshop.
Each SAC module includes a kit with supplies for hands-on activities.
These petri dishes and magnifying lens are part of the Bug Safari kit. They are being used to photograph a small insect that will be added to iNaturalist's database.
After the online training, all educators complete an in-person workshop with other SAC educators in their region.
Here's a map showing SAC's reach after our new blended learning model was implemented.
Here's a video we used to promote Science Action Club to our educator network.
The Educator Portal is not publicly accessible, but you can view the publicity pages for our products here.
If we had more time...
We would conduct contextual interviews with our educators to understand more about their background and teaching style. We would also create well-defined buckets of users and personalize the online training to meet each group's needs.
The SAC team also included K. Levedahl, L. Herszenhorn, R. Panganiban, C. Martínez, and A. Collins.