Teacher Resource Library

Brainspring

The resource library is a responsive web app for teachers to access and organize lesson planning materials for phonics-based learning methods.

Industry:  
Education

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MESSA and its design logo are marks owned by Michigan Education Special Services Association, registered in the U.S.
Brainspring provides professional development opportunities for teachers to help students find reading success.

Brainspring is a nationally accredited continuing education organization that offers courses, workshops, certification, and resources for teachers to provide phonics-based instruction to help students succeed in the area of reading. Brainspring teaches a multi-sensory approach called the Orton-Gillingham method, and provides teachers with a wealth of instruction and materials to facilitate learning in the classroom.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Brainspring’s courses were largely done in-person. As they pivoted to offer remote instruction, it was essential that the online resources provided to teachers be user-friendly.

During the research, design, and planning phase of their engagement with Atomic, Brainspring decided that the most valuable outcome would be a systematized, searchable resource library to offer teachers.

After consultation with Atomic, Brainspring decided to build a responsive web application that not only gives teachers access to the documents, but allows them to filter, search, sort, organize, and ‘favorite’ items. Their goal was to optimize teacher experience by creating a user-friendly resource.

The team was always asking great questions to understand what our goal was and what would make it the best it could be for our clients. I was so impressed with the process and how Atomic worked with us and made our idea come to life.

Jacquie Moreno, Brainspring Certification and Instruction Specialist

Coordinating Stakeholders

In addition to team members Grand Rapids and Atomic Object, this project brought together lots of different groups. Having this many cooks in the kitchen required a lot of coordination and a complex project schedule that balanced several timelines and sets of constraints.
Recycling data from the GR Public Services Department
Dozens of vendors with rewards of various sizes, types, and durations — recruited and coordinated by Local First
The myGRcitypoints information website, created by The Image Shoppe

Brainspring empowers teachers. Their new web app had to be efficient and user friendly to save precious lesson-planning time.

Brainspring’s future product vision is a complete lesson-planning app.

Through the consultative research, design, and planning process with Atomic, they discovered that an efficient content management system was the first step toward realizing that goal.

The Atomic team used agile software practices to keep the Brainspring team up to date on their progress.

Atomic created a project staging website to demonstrate progress every two weeks. The Brainspring team could log into the site, review features, and identify necessary modifications.

During the project, Atomic also partnered with an existing third-party vendor to facilitate Brainspring’s e-commerce goals. This successful partnership allows for a future single client sign-in for all of Brainspring’s different tools and offerings.

Technical Specs

Atomic designed the system architecture and wrote software and firmware for:

Custom Protocol
Reduces required bandwidth and handle collisions, allowing reliable transfer of a high volume of information through RF and cellular communications back to the data collection service.
Gateway Devices
Each is a Technologic TS 7800 single-board computer with a custom RF receiver. They run a combination of C and Ruby on an embedded Linux system.
Web App
A JRuby on Rails application using an Oracle database that deploys to IBM Websphere.
I loved working on a project that is a force for good in the world. It’s rewarding to give back to teachers and help children succeed in reading.

Sivhuan Sera, Software Consultant and Developer at Atomic Object

Phase 2: Developing a Full-feature Workshop Experience

With the Learning Map developed into a digital product, Root wanted to further help users dive into their organization’s strategy, financials, or processes with a second release. Among other features, they sought to create a kind of a virtual whiteboard, where everyone’s voice could be heard in a fun, engaging, and meaningful way.

Atomic’s Software Design Practice Lead in Ann Arbor, Bryan Elkus, led design work on the project. He saw the user experience of going through the Learning Map activities as a type of collaborative online challenge.

Under the guidance of Atomic's Software Consultant & Designer Bryan Elkus, the project emphasized collaborative user experiences, akin to an online group challenge, focusing on:

  • Consultants facilitating onboarding, ice-breakers, and exercises.
  • Client company employees engaging in organizational change.

Atomic Object Software Consultant & Developer Matt Soto his development work focused on delivering Root’s vision of polish, complex features, and emphasizing a business model around the digital product.

Root's VP, Nate Butki says Atomic’s consultative approach helped the project team uncover and address underlying needs rather than merely executing requests.

“Atomic didn’t want to just figure out what we wanted and give it to us—but rather figured out the need and helped us with it,” he said. “If they had listened to us and spit out exactly what we asked for, they would have only gotten 80 percent of it. Atomic’s team asked the questions and pushed us further.”

Technical Specs

Atomic designed the system architecture and wrote software and firmware for:

Custom Protocol
Reduces required bandwidth and handle collisions, allowing reliable transfer of a high volume of information through RF and cellular communications back to the data collection service.
Gateway Devices
Each is a Technologic TS 7800 single-board computer with a custom RF receiver. They run a combination of C and Ruby on an embedded Linux system.
Web App
A JRuby on Rails application using an Oracle database that deploys to IBM Websphere.
I loved working on a project that is a force for good in the world. It’s rewarding to give back to teachers and help children succeed in reading.

Sivhuan Sera, Software Consultant and Developer at Atomic Object

Phase 2: Developing a Full-feature Workshop Experience

With the Learning Map developed into a digital product, Root wanted to further help users dive into their organization’s strategy, financials, or processes with a second release. Among other features, they sought to create a kind of a virtual whiteboard, where everyone’s voice could be heard in a fun, engaging, and meaningful way.

Atomic’s Software Design Practice Lead in Ann Arbor, Bryan Elkus, led design work on the project. He saw the user experience of going through the Learning Map activities as a type of collaborative online challenge.
Under the guidance of Atomic's Software Consultant & Designer Bryan Elkus, the project emphasized collaborative user experiences, akin to an online group challenge, focusing on:

  • Consultants facilitating onboarding, ice-breakers, and exercises.
  • Client company employees engaging in organizational change.

Atomic Object Software Consultant & Developer Matt Soto his development work focused on delivering Root’s vision of polish, complex features, and emphasizing a business model around the digital product. Root's VP, Nate Butki says Atomic’s consultative approach helped the project team uncover and address underlying needs rather than merely executing requests.

“Atomic didn’t want to just figure out what we wanted and give it to us—but rather figured out the need and helped us with it,” he said. “If they had listened to us and spit out exactly what we asked for, they would have only gotten 80 percent of it. Atomic’s team asked the questions and pushed us further.”

“Atomic didn’t want to just figure out what we wanted and give it to us—but rather figured out the need and helped us with it.”

Nate Butki, Root VP

Project Highlights

The web app emphasizes searchability and efficiency. It is organized by category, with filter and sorting options, and allows teachers to ‘favorite’ items they use most. It optimizes for teachers to quickly and easily find the resources they need, saving time in their planning process.

The outcome of this work is an app that is making it easier and faster for teachers to find and organize the Brainspring documents they need so they can spend more time with their students.

Taste-testing the Product in the Field

Delivering A Great Product and An Empowered Team

By getting to share their decades’ experience with agile practices, Atomic’s team got to watch the counterparts at Root develop new skills over the course of the second engagement.

Soto says he loved watching Root’s inherently collaborative culture adopt the agible practices they were learning.

“After a few months, they loved how easy and smooth it was to make last-minute changes, to pivot in another direction, and use feedback to spend their time where it was most impactful,” he said.

Root’s Jared Page says the agile approach to product design, development, and management he saw during the engagement had a profound impact.

“One of my favorite things about this project is that everyone got better—better at our jobs and better with communication; it just feels cool,” he said. “Sometimes you work for a year and don’t know if you’ve improved but everyone could look back on this project and say they’ve improved. This project changed the way I will work forever.”

The web app emphasizes searchability and efficiency. It is organized by category, with filter and sorting options, and allows teachers to ‘favorite’ items they use most. It optimizes for teachers to quickly and easily find the resources they need, saving time in their planning process.

The outcome of this work is an app that is making it easier and faster for teachers to find and organize the Brainspring documents they need so they can spend more time with their students.

The whole team was really wonderful. We are so happy with our new site and so excited to share it with all of our customers.

Jacquie Moreno, Brainspring Certification and Instruction Specialist

Results

Feedback from internal and external users has been overwhelmingly positive.

Real world beta testing is helping teachers and Brainspring tutors access materials in an organized, efficient way.

Atomic’s work sets the stage for Brainspring’s ultimate goal of a complete lesson planning app.

Preparing the Way


The first step in realizing Brainspring’s future goal of a lesson planning app was to create an efficient content management system.

For the content resource library, Atomic created a responsive web app with multiple features, including dropdown items, customization, and search and filter functionality.

Atomic is proud to have set the stage for Brainspring’s future success in achieving their ultimate goal of a start-to-finish lesson planning app.

Coordinating Stakeholders

In addition to team members Grand Rapids and Atomic Object, this project brought together lots of different groups. Having this many cooks in the kitchen required a lot of coordination and a complex project schedule that balanced several timelines and sets of constraints.
Recycling data from the GR Public Services Department
Dozens of vendors with rewards of various sizes, types, and durations — recruited and coordinated by Local First
The myGRcitypoints information website, created by The Image Shoppe

A Partnership with a Storybook Ending

The team’s careful project management, client communication, cutting-edge architecture, and cohesive design strategy helped the team ship the product on time and on budget.

Reflecting back on the multi-year, high-profile project, Robinson said Atomic helped his company arrive at a special moment in time.

“We'd never done anything this big. Ever,” he said. “We’re live across all the major pillars Atomic said they would deliver on. It was delivered on time, on budget, to expectation, live. Not three or four milestones late with people leaving and the platform half-baked and full of bugs.”

StoryLoom began open-beta in December 2022. A global launch is scheduled for the spring of 2023.

“We’ve been given a rare opportunity," said Robinson, "to find success by chasing opportunities Starship Enterprise-style: going where people aren’t—pushing boundaries.”

I loved working on a project that is a force for good in the world. It’s rewarding to give back to teachers and help children succeed in reading.

Sivhuan Sera, Software Consultant and Developer at Atomic Object

The Atomic Team

Here are some of our current Atoms who worked on this project. Click their photo to read their bios!

Project domain(s)

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Industry

Services provided

Software Product Design
User Research
System Architecture
Information Architecture
Interaction Design
Visual Design
Software Development
User Testing
Exploratory Testing
Deployment

Tools used

React
Next JS
Contentful
Vercel
Firebase User Management by Google