BloomBoard Collaborate

Virtual professional learning community to suport transformative learning


Explore the value of educator communities and design a tool or environment that facilitates collaborative, transformative learning among teachers.

A team of five masters students from Carnegie Mellon University partnered with BloomBoard to envision a product to support educator learning in an online community setting. We embarked on a strongly user-driven end-to-end research, design, and development process which has culminated in the creation of BloomBoard Collaborate, a tool that aids teachers in building and creating transformative professional learning communities (PLCs) in a digital environment.


Exploratory Research

Our exploratory research included thorough literature review, competitive analysis and field interviews to uncover teachers’ needs in professional learning. We read articles and books in diverse areas, including workforce learning principles, computer supported collaborative learning, and effective professional development. During our interviews, we employed inquiry techniques from Contextual Design (Beyer and Holztblatt, 1998) to elicit rich qualitative data from our research participants and better understand their work.

Data Synthesis

In order to make sense of and find patterns of behavior in our interview data, we modeled our findings using the flow model and cultural models recommended in the contextual design process. To synthesize the content of what teachers shared with us, we used the Elito Method to gather important observations from our interviews and link these observations to key insights, design concepts, literature and competitive analysis findings. After collecting over 200 key observations, we used affinity diagramming to cluster them and search for emergent themes. These insights drove the creation of eight initial design ideas, which were iteratively refined in collaboration with our client and evaluated with users.


Iterative Prototyping

We combined three most promising product ideas into one, and started our journey of ideation. Through multiple cycles of rapid prototyping, evaluation, and redesign of our product, we have relied on regular user and client feedback, as well as recommendations from professional development expert. Beginning with paper prototypes and basic wireframes to probe for desired functionality and identify gross omissions in our design, we quickly moved to higher fidelity mockups, including clickthrough prototypes and working prototypes to mimic product functionality and evaluate user flow. As we refined our product, we constantly sought to be critical of it and look for subtle ways in which we might improve its usability and communicate a message of intellectual growth.

Incorporating Learning Science Theories

We drew heavily on empirically supported learning science principles and techniques in creating a successful community learning experience for teachers. For example, we utilized the research on scripts from computer supported collaborative learning to create a set of prompts that promote a concrete and constructive discussion among educators. We also incorporated principles of e-learning and adult learning in order to create a productive and positive learning environment.

User Centered and Expert Evaluation

We collected feedback on our design from both users and experts in a variety of forms. In our user tests, we adhered to the methodologies described in contextual design (Beyer and Holtzblatt, 1988) which recommend grounding the evaluation session by giving the user a series of concrete tasks to complete. Rather than coaching the user as to how they should use the tool to complete these tasks, we solicited user interpretations and expectations regarding interface behaviors, and allowed them to freely make “mistakes.” In this manner, we identified problem areas in our interface, as well as opportunities to expand or improve its functionality. In addition to conducting numerous tests with individuals, we also sought to evaluate the synchronous video chat component with small groups of teachers.


We are METALS Prime, the members of the first graduating class from the METALS program at CMU. We bring a rich variety of backgrounds and skills to this project, which have enhanced our experience and the product we’ve designed. Let us introduce ourselves...

Danny Koh

Head of Research

Avinash Parida

Head of Design

Martina Pavelko

Head of Coordination

Mark Potter

Head of Content

Yujun Song

Head of Development