How Wonder Workshop Built a Professional Learning Community
June Lin, Wonder Workshop’s Community Manager, found Mobilize on a search to find the perfect tool to build a community of teachers who use robots in their classrooms to teach kids how to code. Today, teachers within this professional learning community share lesson plans and advice to help their students be more successful through this innovative way of learning. MEET WONDER WORKSHOP In 2012, three innovators went after one lofty goal: to make coding fun and meaningful for cJune Lin, Wonder Workshop’s Community Manager, found Mobilize on a search to find the perfect tool to build a community of teachers who use robots in their classrooms to teach kids how to code. Today, teachers within this professional learning community share lesson plans and advice to help their students be more successful through this innovative way of learning. MEET WONDER WORKSHOP In 2012, three innovators went after one lofty goal: to make coding fun and meaningful for children. Five years later, thanks to Wonder Workshop and Dash & Dot’s technology, kindergarteners and first graders all across the country are learning how to code with the help of robots in their classrooms. Once Wonder Workshop launched, Community Manager June Lin, saw a critical need to support the community of teachers using the robots. “Teachers wanted to teach each other about how to best teach computer science to their kids. They wanted to share ideas for lessons that they created and share resources,” she explains. THE CHALLENGE At first, June and her team relied on a combination of both Discourse and MailChimp to manage meaningful conversations. However, she found that while conversations happened around the time of the Wonder Workshop Robotics Competition, an annual contest where children develop code to solve real-world problems and technological challenges, they were not able to maintain community discussions during the rest of the year. “We wanted to create a forum for them to interact because there was a lot of rich engagement happening during the two months of the contest,” she says. This lack of momentum led June to develop new teacher programs, like The Innovation Squad which is now a Mobilize community full of Wonder Workshop’s superstar teachers. “We realized that a bunch of teachers are super new at this. We wanted to have teachers share advice, answer questions and create a program where teachers could also be rewarded for sharing their knowledge,” she says. THEN THEY FOUND MOBILIZE June says it didn’t take long after moving to Mobilize to see an increase in engagement, and experience the benefits of built-in analytics and smart follow-ups. “It was so useful seeing who opened and clicked on things, then being able to follow up,” she says. Finally, June began to notice a consistent flow of engagement within the community through Mobilize discussion threads. This feature enables and empowers teachers to share information and learn from each other on an ongoing basis. “These discussions continue to increase the chances of success teachers will have with our products,” she explains. Discussion threads are also valuable because they don’t require participation from those who don’t want to participate, June says. They also give teachers the ability to rely on each other for customer support when needed. “It took the onus off of us to answer everything,” she explains. “People talk to each other, and that’s very useful.” RESULTS & IMPACT Since using Mobilize, June says they have nearly doubled their open rates. In the early days, when they used MailChimp, they experienced a 20 percent open rate—today, they’re at 50 percent. Using Mobilize has also given teachers a way to communicate valuable feedback and input on the robots. “There have been interesting ideas that teachers have had that probably would not have taken off if they didn't have a base to talk to each other about it in Mobilize,” she says. “We've incorporated some of those ideas in our curriculum.” One example is how teachers have been using the robots to teach empathy to the children. “One teacher was saying that they are using our product to teach things like empathy, and using it as a counselling tool for students with special needs or even kindergartners who are really just learning how to be human,” she says.