Launching Documents of Freedom, A Digital Take on the Traditional Textbook
Heather Muety, Former Senior Project Manager
The Bill of Rights Institute is dedicated to teaching young people across the country about America's founding history. Besides offering access to the the texts of founding documents like the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the Institute also works creatively and vigorously to provide teachers with guidance and innovative materials. And, as today's student body becomes more and more tech savvy, that means turning to digital for new ways to engage students.
The Institute called upon Viget to build a custom authoring platform that would give them the freedom (no pun intended) to create, edit, and publish a digital high school textbook, available across multiple devices, complete with teacher lesson plans, student readings, activities, quizzes, and videos. The project came with a variety of exciting technical challenges, and, in meeting them, we’ve been thrilled to help the Institute reach more students and teachers.
The Textbook, Redefined
Our platform, built in Ruby on Rails and hosted on Heroku, allows teachers to create free accounts, select their individual teaching standards (state, national, AP), and view teacher-only and student content mapped to their specific standards.
Don’t have time to create a lesson plan? No worries, each reading has a corresponding lesson plan. Not sure what type of activities to conduct in class? We’ve got that for you too.
Through extensive user research, we determined that a responsive design would be critical to the success of Docs of Freedom. Teachers and students are viewing and digesting content in all ways, shapes and forms, including desktop, tablet, mobile, slow connection, and no connection. By developing a platform that is responsive across all devices, and by allowing users to download PDFs of materials and readings to use offline, we are ensuring an easy-to-use and engaging experience for all environments.
We Did Our Homework
Because this is the first authoring platform Viget has built, a lot of upfront user research and team collaboration happened in the early phases. We really needed to understand how teachers worked, what their pain points were, and how they searched for and digested classroom content. Because of this upfront investment, we were able to gain the trust of the the Insitute’s team and set the tone for a great working relationship. Our clients were enthusiastic, engaged, and up for pushing boundaries of what was possible.
We are really proud of the powerful platform we built for the Institute. For more details, check out our full Case Story. We believe it is an innovative take on the outdated textbook, meets the needs of teachers nationwide, and will continue to adapt to and engage with students over time.
Head of the Class
Within six days of launch, Docs of Freedom had over 585 teachers sign up from over forty-five states and the District of Columbia—with 776 number of sign-ups to date.
View DocsofFreedom.org and try not to learn something… we dare you!