My team and I built a SaaS management system for K-12 schools in China to support a fundamental education reform.
China's K-12 education system has long been criticized for its lack of flexibility and disregard of individuality. Most public school students follow unified pre-assigned schedules, learn through one-way lectures from teachers, and are evaluated only by standardized tests on a handful of subjects.
This outdated model is slowly shifting. Since 2013, K-12 education reforms gradually rolled out nationwide. These reforms introduced course election, a flexible grading system, and peer learning. They also posed great challenges to school management as there were no tools readily available for these new practices.
As the Design Lead of Seiue, a Beijing-based EdTech startup, I led the design of a SaaS system for high schools going through this transition. Our company was incubated by the Affiliated High School of Peking University (Bei Da Fu Zhong, BDFZ), a leading public school in Beijing and a pioneer in education reforms. Through BDFZ we gained the opportunity to learn about how a public high school functioned from within.
We identified three key stakeholders: students, teachers, and school administrators. We talked with users from all three groups within BDFZ to understand their workflows and the dynamics between stakeholders under the new model. We were also interested in how they interacted with existing IT systems and the breakdowns in that process.
Key insights from the research include:
Based on the insights above, our vision was to build a system that provided seamless integration of learning, teaching, and school management. The system should be easy to use to all stakeholders. It should be web-based to ensure maximum cross-platform compatibility.
We made prototypes in various fidelity levels, from rough whiteboard sketches to comprehensive wireframes showing every interaction detail. We iterated on our design based on user feedback.
The final design features different functionalities and interfaces for three different user roles: students, teachers, and administrators.
For students, Seiue Chalk is a tool to manage their school life in one place. They can register for classes, manage their own schedule, access their grades, and interact with teachers and peers.
For teachers, Seiue Chalk is a dashboard for all the classes they teach. They can manage their student lists, take attendance, distribute class materials, and assign grades.
For school administrators, Seiue Chalk makes it easy to manage everything from a global view. They can manage course offerings of the school, initiate and manage course election, and supervise attendance.
We launched the initial version of Seiue Chalk in November 2014. Since then, Seiue Chalk has been adopted by BDFZ and many other public and private schools in China. The product itself has also gone through a lot of iterations and is building up a reputation as the best available SaaS platform for school management. Today Seiue Chalk remains the main offering of the startup.
To learn more about the current state of Seiue Chalk please visit www.seiue.com (Chinese)