Educational Platform for Early Learners

Pearson’s successful learning management system (LMS) was designed for grades 3-12 and had a strong dependency on the user having already learned to read. With the upcoming release of new content programs targeted towards early learners (K-2), the Realize platform needed a new interface that would be intuitive to younger students.

Due to budget and time constraints, the project scope for the initial release was limited to updating the look & feel and navigation, utilizing the underlying structure of the existing backend framework. Re-imagining the learning model was slated for a subsequent release.

Simplifying the Experience.

The Realize platform has a robust set of features, a lot of which needed to be stripped away to until a core set of functionality could be identified that would be useful to the younger demographic.

Iterating the Design.

Since Realize is a recognized brand in the education market, we wanted to stay with on a path where the new design felt inspired by the original and stayed true to the brand, while balancing the needs and design aesthetic that is attractive to the younger students.

Existing Design for Older Students

The team began by working with brighter shades of the Realize color palette to brighten up the user interface. From there we experimented with irregular shapes and patterns to create a more engaging experience, ultimately landing on what we referred to as a “bubble” to hold content.

Iterating on Designs for Younger Students

The team was aiming for a shape that feels more fun and engaging than a square for the younger audience. To further simplify the experience, we dropped the book titles and instead focused on the subjects, coupling them with themed illustrations to boost recognition. The typeface was exchanged for on with letter forms closer to those taught to early readers and writers.

Final Design for Younger Students

We continued the design pattern and placed assignment bubbles along a dotted path to lead learners through their lessons.

Design Style Use on Learning Path

Engaging and Friendly Design Details.

Bolder. Brighter. More Engaging.

Aligned with the same color palette used for grades 3-12, with the intensity turned up to eleven.

Approachable Typography.

Letter forms close to those taught to early readers and writers.

Clean. Simple Illustrations.

Additional context for emergent readers to assist in navigating the platform.

Avatars for Personalization & Gamification.

To promote ownership and investment in their experience. Students start with a standard selection of avatar options. Additional accessories can be earned by completing tasks.

Media Type Themed Patterns.

Backgrounds for pages that launch content in new browser tabs.

Never Assume. Always Test.

A total of three rounds of usability testing were conducted throughout the design process. Each round was conducted in a rapid, iterative testing format, with individual in-person sessions, at Pearson’s iDEA Innovation Center. The first two rounds of testing included 7-8 student participants. The third round of testing added teacher participants to gain insights from their perspective.

Usability Test Results: Round 1

General Usability, Platform Navigation, Content Browsing, Avatar Creation

Usability Test Results: Round 2

General Usability, Platform Navigation, Browsing Content, Navigating Between Platforms, Icons, Labels

Usability Test Results: Round 3

Results pending…


The Result.

The Early Learning theme was offered to customers starting in Fall 2017. The first school year saw an adoption rate of 20%.