It’s been an eventful year in UpGrad. We’ve launched our first program in November 2015, “Startup with UpGrad” and, the very first batch of our students are set to graduate in less than a month’s time. Along with this first batch, we also launched the UpGrad Learning Platform, and have been receiving encouragingly constructive and positive feedback since then.
We are excited to share publicly for the first time, the design and the thought process behind our platform. Our goals for the first version of the platform were to create a speedy and seamless experience that facilitates social learning and high engagement with the content. As we wanted to prove as many hypotheses as possible in a short time, we decided to opt for a commercially available LMS platform (Canvas by Instructure) for the first batch – and add to this our social learning features and interactive assessments. This allowed us to launch the first batch only three months later and yet, include the features that we as UpGrad want to stand for – seamlessness, social learning, and high engagement.
When we started building the platform, we asked ourselves some key questions that guided us through the development journey:
- If a student is stuck somewhere while studying a lesson, how quickly he can find people with similar problems and reach them out?
- Can I reach out to TA or an expert if my problem is unique?
- How to find other learners near me taking the course?
- After finishing a lesson – how can I reach out quickly to people whom I can help out, after all, teaching is the best way to learn?
- How can a learner assess himself seamlessly and in a timely manner?
Finding answers to these questions gave way to a set of features, which we wanted our first batch of students to experience:
Peer to Peer Question Answer Forum
This is how a study session looks like, the white dot in the video marks the timing of the assessment. The blue ball on botton right corner takes you to the Question Answer forum for this session.
This is the course dashboard that allows the students to navigate from one module to another.
- Multimedia lesson content (video, text and file attachments)
- Assessments, Independent exams and interactive questions integrated with lessons
- Peer to peer learning forum seamlessly integrated with the current learning stage of the student
- Scheduler and calendar
- TA and tutor interactions
- Live sessions with instructors and Industry Experts
- Management of student profiles, enrolments and access control with teacher and TA users
Implementing these features required us to extend and stretch Canvas. The transformation from the traditional LMS to a new-age learning platform will be further explored in the second part of this series.
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