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Skills Builder Rebuilt: Designing a More Accessible Knowledge Base

The Isotoma team worked with The Skills Builder Partnership to give educators better access to their valuable teaching resources.

Established in 2009, Skills Builder (formerly Enabling Enterprise) is a not-for-profit social enterprise with a clear mission: to ensure that everyone builds the essential skills to thrive. To that end, they developed the Skills Builder Framework.

The Framework breaks down the eight essential skills into teachable and measurable steps to help educators promote and instil them in young people. The Framework is backed by the Skills Builder Partnership, which brings together more than 700 schools and colleges, employers, and youth organisations. They collaborate to achieve the shared goal of helping everyone to build the skills they need to succeed.

Skills Builder’s online presence is crucial to its success. Carry on reading to discover how Isotoma built a brand–new website for teachers that made accessing the Skills Builder resources a breeze.

Innovative educators

As part of the ongoing development of the Skills Builder Framework, Skills Builder are constantly producing new classroom resources and project packs to help educators prepare young people for success in later life. These resources provide vital support to not just schools and colleges, but also other educational environments, such as scout troops and youth clubs.

Educators use the resources to guide learning and encourage the development of the key skills within the framework such as Listening, Leadership and Teamwork. They can also access tools that help them clarify what success looks like in each skill at different ages, and to map out their own teaching plans.

Showcasing these resources, and making them accessible to anyone who needs them, had proved a challenge for Skills Builder. While their website did allow educators to access the resources, it was relatively basic and difficult to navigate. And although formative assessment is a key part of teaching, their assessment tool sat separately to their resources. Users also found their ability to find specific resources hampered by the poor search capabilities of Microsoft Sharepoint, the CMS behind the website.

To continue to grow and to reach more children Skills Builder needed a new website that offered integrated assessment, better search, improved usability and overall simplicity. In search of the perfect solution, Skills Builder turned to Isotoma.

Technologies: Django
Duration: 5 months
Team size: 2 devs
Hosted: AWS

Skills Builder Framework

  1. Listening
  2. Presenting
  3. Problem solving
  4. Creativity

 

  1. Staying positive
  2. Aiming high
  3. Leadership
  4. Teamwork

Putting in the research

Research is an essential part of every project the Isotoma team undertakes. To understand exactly what the Skills Builder Framework meant to educators we visited a number of schools, interviewed a broad selection of teachers and lead consultants, and watched the Skills Builder resources being delivered in classrooms. We wanted to see how educators used the Skills Builder website and investigate their regular habits and behaviours. Just as importantly, we needed to understand their frustrations and the limitations they were experiencing.

The knowledge we gained from our user research gave us an invaluable insight into the challenges faced by Skills Builder’s users and the changes that needed to be made. We combined everything we learned about users’ aims and difficulties with our experiences of designing other systems for education (like The Key and Pebble) when preparing the wireframes of the new Skills Builder Hub. We wanted to ensure that the new platform would meet and exceed the needs and expectations of its audience.

Starting from scratch

Skills Builder asked Isotoma to produce a brand-new content delivery system for the Skills Builder Hub. Each pack of Skills Builder content is made up of many webpages, videos, and graphics. This complex combination of resources had led to a confusing and complicated interface on the existing website and needed to be drastically improved.

To understand how this could be achieved we reviewed the software Skills Builder were using to tie together their CMS with their content production tools. We recognised that the resources would be better displayed and managed if they were on a platform built using a more capable CMS, so we turned to Wagtail.

Building a powerful website

Wagtail is Isotoma’s CMS of choice when it comes to producing content-rich websites with excellent UX at their heart. We are one of the largest agencies in the UK to regularly deploy Wagtail and were responsible for its largest early implementation when we built The Key, which you can read about here.

Wagtail has the power to cater for all the complex content development requirements of Skills Builder’s new website and our expert understanding of the CMS enabled us to include an array of fantastic features. Through the new Skills Builder Hub, users can:

  • Manage content and control who has access to it
  • Keep online records and measure progress, which is displayed through a variety of easy-to-understand visuals
  • Search for content using a number of filter options, such as resource type, activity type, and length of activity
  • Add resources and activities to a personalised favourites tab
  • Review content using in-classroom views
  • Assess against the framework, preview, and edit content prior to in-classroom presentation

Skills Builder Partnership

  • 700+ organisations
  • 10,000+ teachers and professionals
  • 200,000+ learners

A project of passion

We were delighted to be awarded the Skills Builder project, which combined two things we’re passionate about: supporting the education sector and building websites using Wagtail. Skills Builder is doing fantastic work that helps educators guide young people toward brighter futures. The Skills Builder Framework is at the centre of that, and by using Wagtail, we’ve been able to create a website worthy of the invaluable resources Enabling Enterprise has produced.

If you want to improve the UX and interface of your website, or you think Wagtail is the powerful CMS you’ve been looking for, get in touch with the Isotoma team today.