Harvard Business School needed a collaborative blogging solution. With only six weeks until the start of the school year, Reaktiv Studios built a minimum viable product for HBS Open Knowledge to determine its feasibility across HBS courses.
A Quick Timeline
After some quick discovery meetings to determine the most critical needs for the site, Reaktiv Studios outlined a plan to get the site launched in six weeks. The goal was to make Open Knowledge the destination to create, share, discover and engage in classroom discussions about business and leadership. Two courses would go live, followed by a third course (of 900 students) later in the fall.
In determining what to launch, features were prioritized based on the course schedule. Students needed to be able to submit their assignments, get support, and comment on their peers’ assignments. As there were varying levels of technical ability among the students, the decision was made to keep students out of the WordPress dashboard, and complete all tasks using the front-end of the site. Reaktiv Studios built a fully-functional front-end editor and media uploader for student submissions. In terms of performance, the site also needed to withstand 900 students attempting to submit their assignments at the last minute.
Working with HBS Library Services, Reaktiv utilized the WP REST API to provide data to a D3 visualization of tags across the corpus of student submissions.
Instructors needed to grade and curate student submissions, right from the front end. Curated submissions get collected into a classroom view which instructors use to guide their conversations in class about the assignment. The submissions and their grades can be exported to CSV or PDF for instructors to peruse outside of class.
Just-in-time Feature Set
In order to meet the launch date, some large and important features were postponed for later phasees. Reaktiv was able to launch a functional version of the site in time for the start of classes and iteratively add features as the semester progressed, allowing the feedback loop from students and instructors using the site to guide further development.
FERPA or: How to Keep Student Data Safe on the Web
Student privacy is important, but it doesn’t have to be at odds with working in public. Reaktiv built the system to allow students to use pseudonyms and choose whether or not their class section is shown publicly on their profile. This allows students to do their work, get their grade, and still publish without having it tied to their real name. For some students with internet access restrictions, this meant emailing in their assignments for instructors to input.
In post-course surveys, 97% of respondents said they would recommend using a public blogging tool in another classroom. Reaktiv is honored to partner with a revered institution like HBS and to continue to grow the Open Knowledge platform.