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Brightspace for Parents
Helping to improve students outcomes by engaging parents & guardians in their education

D2 Brightspace is a global leader in online and blended learning. Since 1999, the organization has been focused on their mission to transform the way the world learns.

At the time, D2l was increasing its focus on K12 education. There was strong research indicating that parents are crucial to student success, so I lead the design effort.

People problem

During our initial discovery with parents, teachers, and children, we heard time and time again that parent engagement is crucial to student success. This is an undeniable fact. Some of the key problems that we heard in research are:
  • I can't wait until the report card comes out to find ou that there's a problem. I want to help them when they need the help.
  • I can't get my child to tell me about their day? I need some information to prime the conversation.
  • I'd like to know when things are going well, not just when they're struggling. It's important that we celebrate the small wins.


Design lead


Discovery, group and solo ideation, customer and user interviews, information architecture, visual design, interaction design, prototyping


0-1 web app: 2018 - 2019
Mobile app: 2021


Brightspace for parents connects parents with students and teachers in k12 systems globally. In North America, Brightspace for Parent is being used our largest school systems such as The New York department of education and the Ontario ministry of education.


The work was split into several key phases. Given that this was a 0-1 initiative, we started with discovery and vision. Once we were happy with the north star, I followed the discovery, ideate, evaluation, and build for each of the core functions.

I won't go through all of the detail on this site, but please feel free to reach out and I'd be happy to chat further.

Phase 1
Discovery & vision


  • Discovery: Customer interviews, user interviews, kano analysis, persona development
  • Solution: Sketching, wireframes, visual design, prototyping
  • Evaluation: Usability testing


We met with dozens of education experts, parents, and teachers to develop our core principles for the experience.

Our team diverged by engaging in co-creation activities with education experts, product managers, and designers. We forged a north star, aligned with leadership, and validated our concept with representative users.

Phase 2
Navigation & structure


  • Discovery: Customer interviews, user interviews
  • Solution: Sketching, flow mapping, wireframes, visual design, prototyping
  • Evaluation: User interviews


The parent persona was a new concept in Brightspace. When I started the project, the organization was rapidly developing a pragmatic solution that didn't focus on our desired outcomes. I pushed the team to take a step back and meet with our users before rushing a solution.

As a result of our user and customer research, we learned that parents needed to be first-class citizens in the learning environment. Their context was different from students and teachers; they need to quickly identify challenges in children's learning journey.

Phase 3
Work to do & scheduling


  • Discovery: User interview, co-design
  • Solution: Sketching, wireframes, visual design, prototyping, motion design
  • Evaluation: Usability testing


The Brightspace platform didn't have a mechanism to quickly enable users to view "work to do". This made it challenging for learners to quickly understand where to focus their attention.

Another designer had done some deeper research in to this space and presented some compelling evidence that we need to pair up and solve the problem together. I connected with her and another designer and we worked on a remote design session to ideate and explore solutions.

The key driver behind this design was the two week view. We learned that parents plan their time in one week increments. We tested a couple of few concepts and considered weekly montly and weekly views but landed on two weeks because it gave the right amount if information without overwhelming.

This work resulted in a massive change in the platform's underlying architecture. It took nearly 2.5 years to roll out the vision but the proposed solution for the parent persona was ultimately released to learners as well. This solution as been positively adopted across the client base and Brigthspace finally has a guide to inform students and parents for whats upcoming.

Phase 4
Activity feed


  • Solution: Prototyping, motion design


The activity feed work was the lightest phase of this project. We had another group working on the overarching problem space for Brightspace. My goal for this work was to integrate it into the parent context so that parents could scan to get a high-level sense o what the student has been up to in school.

The unique aspect of the activity feed for the parent person is they needed to view the information in aggregate. Our research indicated that parents didn't have much time and we didn't expect they'd click through each course to read each feed.

We learned that our concept of an aggregate activity feedback was required in the student and teacher experience. I worked through some concepts and testing and the solution was extended more broadly.

Phase 5
Email & notifications


  • Discovery: User interviews
  • Solution: Visual design
  • Solution: A/B testing


Our goal for the platform was to engage parents in their children's education, and really didn't need them to login to the web platform to do that. After some discovery to determine how people wanted and expected to receive information, we decided to prioritize email communication.

We already knew what information people needed and why. For the email communication, we focused on presenting information in a weekly summary format. This aligned well with the work to do research becauae we understood that people plan their time in weekly units.

The goal for the weekly summary was to articulate the previous week and set parents up for the week ahead.

Phase 6
Portfolio sharing


  • Discovery: User interviews
  • Solution: Visual design
  • Evaluation: User interviews


While we were focused on the parent solution, another team was building a new solution for teachers to capture evidence of students learning. This is well know pedagogical tool that we were bringing toour platform.

We learned from or conversations with educations that it would be valusable to share these artifacts with parents. The result was impresive: students were able to share their progress, both good and bad with their parents. The student would capture their work in class, and the teacher would share it with the parent.

Our goal for this effort was to inclyde the portfolio shares on the portal and in our email communications. We needed a mechanism to notofy parents when the items were shared and to highlight the read status.