Introducing Backpack Interactive’s Teacher Council

Milagros Montalvo bio picture Milagros Montalvo

At Backpack Interactive, we love teachers. In any user experience research (UXR) we conduct, teachers frequently provide the best insights about how edTech products work in real classrooms across the country.

After all, edTech tools are an extension of what happens in the classroom. That’s why it’s important to consider teachers’ needs in all the learning tools we design—even ones meant primarily for student use.

When we thought about the most effective way to learn more about teachers and their unique needs, we immediately imagined a group of dedicated classroom instructors who could help better inform our UX design choices.

As part of our continued commitment to user-centered design, we created the Teacher Council, a space for increased dialogue with our educator users. The Teacher Council will help us deepen our understanding of the unique needs and pain points educators face in the classroom. With more informed UXR, we’ll create better products for our clients, whether they’re building a classroom tool for teachers or students.

Even though teachers are experts on user experience in edTech, we know they’re often left out of design conversations. That’s why we also wanted to amplify educators’ voices and give them a platform to advocate for the needs of their students, colleagues, and school communities.

With visions of teachers dancing in our heads, we used our professional networks and reached out to teachers recommended by our design partners. Some teachers even contacted Backpack with their perspectives on edTech proactively, so we knew they’d be game.

The Teachers Helping Backpack Interactive with edTech UXR

After weeks of hard work, we’re proud to introduce Backpack Interactive’s very first Teacher Council. Every month, the members of our Teacher Council will discuss a specific topic, like remote learning. They’ll also be available for in-house user testing, research, and qualitative interviews about requirements, priorities, and features.

Please welcome our newest partners in UXR:

Flora Gitsis has taught both upper elementary and special education and served as Special Education District Administrator for K-12 schools in the largest school district in Indiana. She recently purchased a Peloton bike to help her exercise and unwind.

Scott Meyer-Kukan has nearly two decades of experience in the field of education and taught fourth grade in New York City in 2006. When he’s not working on his doctoral degree in central office administration, he serves as a part-time archivist and genealogist. Scott lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Cody Moran teaches American Sign Language at Huntington Beach High School, where he has taught for the past six years. When he’s not teaching, he loves traveling, camping, and playing sports.

Daniel Nero is a fourth-year English teacher at a Title I high school in Las Vegas, Nevada. He’s an Alaska-to-Nevada transplant who loves to hike and read books.

Rachel Pauta is a 2nd grade Dual Language (Spanish) teacher at Brooklyn Arbor Public School K414 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She can’t be away from the ocean for too long and has a love/hate relationship with sleep.

Alicia Quan has taught 7th-grade Life Science and digital media courses in the Southern California area for five years. Follow her on Twitter and Insta at @ux_edtech, or queue up her podcast, UX of EdTech, in your favorite listening device.

Kylie Reiman is beginning a new position as a 9th grade physics teacher in Camden, NJ after spending three years teaching 7th- and 8th-grade science in the School District of Philadelphia. As a science teacher, she strives to create citizen-students who think critically about the world around them.

Dannielle Rivera teaches 2nd grade in a public school in a suburb in Southern California. She’s married to her college sweetheart and a foster mama to a sweet, one-year-old boy. (Go Lakers!)

Jessica Seiler has taught 4th grade in Fairfax, Virginia for the past eight years. She holds a master’s degree in Learning Technologies in Schools and has been ziplining more than 10 times.

How Backpack Interactive’s Teacher Council Will Make edTech UX Better for Everyone

The educators on our Teacher Council are deeply interested in the field of UX and improving user experience based on their first-hand knowledge of edTech products. They see the potential in many edTech solutions but also see where some products miss the mark. They’re eager to clarify misunderstandings that lead to inadequate edTech solutions and help us build stronger products that work for real teachers in real classrooms.

In the future, we hope to conduct more extensive research to support our assumptions about teacher needs and pain points. This will inform our discovery process and help clients move to the user testing phase even more quickly.

We can’t wait to work with our Teacher Council to make edTech user experiences better for everyone—together.

Do you know a teacher who would be interested in joining our Teacher Council? Are you that teacher? Get in touch!

Let’s build the future of digital products together.