COLAB28 - Web App

Educational Fundamentals

A solution designed to streamline the lesson planning process and cater to the diverse needs outlined in students' Individualized Education Plans.


In today's educational landscape, catering to the diverse learning needs of students is essential for fostering an inclusive and effective learning environment. Traditional one-size-fits-all approaches are no longer adequate, particularly for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) who require specialized resources and support. However, the current system often leaves teachers overwhelmed and under-equipped to meet the unique needs of each student in their classrooms. 

This product portfolio explores the innovative solutions offered by our platform, aimed at alleviating the burdens faced by educators in lesson planning for students with varying learning abilities. By streamlining the resource creation process, our platform saves teachers valuable time and reduces stress, allowing them to focus more on delivering personalized instruction. Key features, such as the sorting function based on learning difficulty and the organization of resources by severity, set our platform apart from existing solutions. These unique aspects empower teachers to efficiently access and adapt resources tailored to the specific needs of their students, ultimately enhancing the quality of education for all learners. 


Problem Space 

In response to the pressing challenges faced by educators and students alike, particularly made apparent during the pandemic in 2020, Educational Fundamentals emerged as a solution-driven initiative. 

The problems were particularly felt in English public schools in the province of Quebec, Canada. The province has long been known to cut budgets and resources from not only the education system, but specifically these schools. The landscape revealed a concerning low rate of student achievement, particularly in essential language skills such as French and English. Shockingly, statistics indicate that 19% of Quebecers struggle with illiteracy, while 34% grapple with reading and comprehension difficulties.  Compounded by the pandemic, which has led to a surge in demand for alternative teaching methods from home, the education sector faces a critical shortage exacerbated by the utilization of around 4000 unqualified teachers. 

Among the myriad challenges are the absence of personalized attention for students, dearth of specialized resources, and the normalization of unpaid overtime, contributing to an environment where teacher motivation is at risk. This confluence of factors has resulted in overburdened educators, exacerbating the shortage of qualified teachers and impeding an optimal learning environment for students.  Amina is our co-founder and inspiration behind the platform. Her firsthand experience as a teacher within the Quebec education system illuminated the urgent need for improvement to avert irreversible consequences within our society. 

Though it would be nearly impossible to name all of the challenges that plague our education system, we decided to focus on teachers’ workload. Delving into the problem, we were able to understand that this acted as a catalyst for many other issues within the industry: If a teacher is overworked, their hourly salary starts to plummet, as they are not paid for overtime hours, thus resulting in them being underpaid. Additionally, they have less free time outside of work, as they spend it lesson planning, communicating with parents, etc.. Therefore, their overall satisfaction is negatively affected. Beyond this, they are not equipped to help many of the students within their classes, which leads to a sense of failure and dissatisfaction with their impact at work. For this reason, we decided to investigate further into why teachers felt overworked. 


User Pain Points & Research Insights 

The circumstances under which Educational Fundamentals (E-F) was created were unique. Amina is the platform’s co-founder, but also its end user. Additionally, her close circle of friends qualify as end users. This presented us with an interesting set of opportunities and threats. On one end, we were starting off with a relevant hypothesis to test. But on the other end, we had to make sure that we were collecting data from people who did not run in our circles, as this could potentially taint our data. We were able to find the right balance by using a mix of surveys and user interviews. 

Through surveys and interviews, we realized/confirmed the following about our target end-user:  

  • Teachers are motivated to positively affect their students’ learning. It’s not a lack of willingness, as many people outside the profession tend to believe. 
  • Lesson planning is time consuming, and IEP planning adds another layer to this. Many teachers are faced with the difficult decision of completely omitting weekly lesson planning according to their students’ varying needs, or working unpaid overtime hours to adapt their plans. 
  • Teachers have various methods for lesson planning, including re-use of old materials, textbooks, observation sheets and creation material from scratch. These solutions either take too long to integrate or are not tailored to the needs of current students.  
  • Teachers use various tools to create lesson plans and assessments. Some use tools such as Canva and Pinterest for ideas, google suite (including docs and slides) for resource creation from scratch and physical agendas or digital organization tools such as Planbook. The most interesting insight regarding tools used by teachers is the use of template sites such as Teachers Pay Teachers, a site where educators upload and share resources that they have created, as well as AI tools such as ChatGPT and Magic School. This indicated that our users are willing and able to use avenues that could effectively help them reduce or solve their pain points.  

Key Statistics 

Here are some key statistics to put teachers’ reality into perspective: 

  • Nearly 1/3 of our sample audience has a class makeup of 5-10 students with IEPs, representing 33-50% of their classroom. 
  • Nearly 30% of our sample audience spends 4 to 6 unpaid hours per week lesson planning.  
  • 40% of our sample audience believes that their efforts in lesson planning have had no effect on their students’ success.  
  • Half of our sample audience currently uses tools to improve the lesson planning process. Based on previous responses, we can either assume that these tools are not effective, or that there is potential for a new market of teachers to begin using tools.

In our research endeavors, which encompassed engagement with Quebec-based elementary and secondary level educators, we delved into the intricacies of their professional challenges and aspirations. A recurring pain point emerged: the pressing need for an efficient mechanism to source and integrate IEP-adapted materials seamlessly into their lesson planning processes. IEPs, essential for students whose learning needs diverge from conventional norms, serve as personalized roadmaps to facilitate tailored educational experiences. 

However, the laborious task of aligning lesson plans with Quebec curriculum standards while accommodating diverse learning abilities outlined in IEPs poses a formidable challenge. Educators expressed a desire to effectively define and evaluate individualized success metrics but are constrained by the temporal confines of their paid hours. Consequently, they confront a disheartening choice between unpaid overtime or compromising the integrity of students' IEPs, thereby jeopardizing their academic prospects. This untenable situation engenders feelings of overwhelm, overwork, hopelessness, and a sense of abandonment among teachers striving to meet the diverse needs of their students within the constraints of their professional roles. 



Solution Space 

Platform Walkthrough 

In response to the distinct pain points articulated by our target users, we have meticulously crafted a solution centered around key features designed to streamline the lesson planning process and cater to the diverse needs outlined in students' Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). At the heart of our solution lies a comprehensive resource library, meticulously curated to encompass a wide array of materials aligned with the Quebec curriculum and tailored to accommodate varying IEP requirements. Through this repository, teachers gain access to a wealth of lesson-planning templates, meticulously categorized to facilitate seamless navigation and selection based on specific student needs. Coupled with a user-friendly login system, educators can unlock personalized features and save their preferences for future reference.

Central to the efficacy of our solution is a robust filtering system, empowering teachers to swiftly pinpoint resources based on subject matter, grade level, and the unique learning difficulties outlined in students' IEPs. Furthermore, our platform offers the convenience of downloads and storage capabilities, enabling educators to access materials offline and seamlessly integrate them into their lesson plans. By prioritizing the development of these essential features, we aim to equip teachers with the tools they need to overcome the challenges inherent in catering to diverse learners, fostering an inclusive and empowering educational environment for all. 

  1. User Onboarding: The teacher accesses the platform for the first time and lands on the landing page. 
  2. Authentication: They proceed to the login page to securely access their account. 
  3. Dashboard Navigation: Upon successful login, they are directed to their personalized dashboard. 
  4. Resource Library Exploration:
    • Sorting Features:  Within the resource library, located on the left-hand side, they encounter a versatile sorting feature. They can sort resources by grade level, subject, topic, learning difficulty, severity of learning difficulty, and resource type (such as games, videos, or worksheets).  
    • Template Display:  After selecting their preferred sorting criteria, the platform displays a range of templates corresponding to their chosen features. Teachers can browse through these templates to find the one that best fits their needs. 
    • Rating and Review Check:  Teachers can assess the quality and suitability of a resource by reading ratings and reviews provided by other users. Additionally, they can access a detailed description of the resource to gain further insight.  
    • Resource Download:  Once satisfied with their selection, teachers can seamlessly download the resource in PDF format directly from the platform.  
    • Review Contribution: Teachers are encouraged to leave their own reviews and feedback on resources they've used, contributing to the platform's collaborative learning community. 

Iterative Design Learnings 

Design Process 

  1. Standard Hypothesis: Developed initial assumptions about user needs and platform  functionality. 
  2. Survey Distribution: Administered surveys to gather feedback and insights from end users. 
  3. Survey Analysis: Analyzed survey results to identify key patterns and areas for improvement. 
  4. "How Might We" Statements: Formulated "how might we" statements based on the identified challenges and opportunities. 
  5. Statement Selection: Selected a primary "how might we" statement to focus our efforts and solutions. 
  6. Solution Exploration: Explored potential solutions and strategies to address the identified needs. 
  7. Feasibility Assessment:  Evaluated the feasibility and practicality of each proposed solution. 
  8. Prototype Development: Developed low-fidelity prototypes to visualize and test potential solutions. 
  9. User Testing: Conducted user testing with high-fidelity prototypes to gather feedback and insights. 
  10. Iterative Refinement: Incorporated user feedback to refine and improve the final iteration of the platform. 


Our platform is designed with teachers in mind. We understand that teachers are often pressed for time and may not have the patience for complicated technology.  

That's why our platform is easy to navigate and intuitive, with a low learning curve. We've ditched the clutter and overstimulation often found on teaching sites, opting instead for simple designs that make it easy to focus on what matters most: helping students. Our filtering system and search tool are like time-saving superpowers for teachers, allowing them to quickly find the resources they need without getting bogged down in unnecessary details.  

Even our logo was crafted with teachers in mind. The lightbulb symbolizes ideas, innovation, and enlightenment, while its heart-shaped design reflects the passion and care that teachers bring to their work. The filament of the bulb cleverly incorporates the initials of our platform, and the vibrant orange color represents vitality, happiness, and optimism, mirroring the energy and dedication of educators.  

Technical implementation 

High level journey of a request  

In determining the tools for our project, we prioritized familiarity and adaptability. Leveraging our existing knowledge in TypeScript and JavaScript provided a solid foundation, while venturing into new territory with Firebase offered exciting possibilities. This combination allowed us to strike a balance between leveraging our expertise and exploring innovative solutions.

Enhancing the application's design revolves around optimizing functionality. Implementing a streamlined login/sign-up process would be a pivotal improvement, ensuring a seamless user experience from the outset. By refining navigation and interface elements, we aim to empower users to effortlessly access and utilize the platform's features. 

Our application's functionality centers around facilitating resource discovery and utilization. While we didn't employ CRUD operations, the resource library boasts a range of dynamic features. These include a robust search bar, a sophisticated filtering system, and dynamic rendering of resources. Each resource is presented with detailed information, fostering informed decision-making by users. 

Opting for a resource library over a lesson plan generator was a strategic decision influenced by feasibility considerations. With limited time remaining in our project timeline, we recognized the complexity of developing a comprehensive lesson plan generator within our constraints.

Conversely, the resource library concept aligned more closely with our skill sets and allowed for a more manageable implementation process. If time constraints were not a factor, our focus would shift towards implementing key features to enhance user engagement and functionality.

Foremost among these would be the implementation of CRUD operations and a robust login/signup system. These features are essential for user account management and personalized experiences within the platform. Additionally, we would explore integrating advanced functionalities such as an IEP Tracker and a comprehensive lesson plan generator, leveraging emerging technologies to further enrich the platform's offerings. 


Technical challenges 

The most daunting aspect of our development journey was undoubtedly the constraint of time and the complexity of certain technical aspects. Striking a balance between ambitious project goals and realistic timelines posed a significant challenge. This was compounded by the need for swift decision-making within our team, especially regarding our project direction and design iterations.

Additionally, grappling with the intricacies of implementing various functionalities added another layer of difficulty to the development process. 

In terms of scaling, our primary hurdles revolved around communication and collaboration within the team. Early on, communication gaps hindered the alignment of our efforts, leading to inefficiencies in progress. Moreover, occasional lapses in team cohesion highlighted the importance of fostering a collaborative and supportive environment. 

Overcoming these challenges required a concerted effort to prioritize clear and open communication, ensuring that all team members felt valued and empowered to contributeeffectively. 

Reflecting on our experience, several key takeaways emerged. Firstly, the need for streamlined processes and efficient resource allocation became apparent, with quicker access to necessary resources potentially alleviating time constraints.

Effective communication emerged as a cornerstone of project success, underscoring the importance of regular updates and transparent collaboration. Moreover, fostering mutual respect for each team member's expertise and experiences proved essential in navigating technical challenges. Speaking of technical hurdles, the implementation of the resource library posed significant difficulties.

As recent graduates of a bootcamp, both developers encountered novel challenges in integrating Firebase storage and rendering documents in image format. Additionally, refining the filtering system for the library presented its own set of obstacles. These challenges underscored the importance of perseverance and adaptability in overcoming technical hurdles and driving project progress. 



Our iterative approach to product development involves soliciting feedback directly from primary level Quebec elementary school teachers, ensuring that their voices shape our platform's evolution.

Through ongoing dialogue and user testing, we've gleaned invaluable insights into their distinct needs and preferences. Users articulated a strong desire for a streamlined homepage that facilitates intuitive navigation and seamless resource accessibility. They emphasized the importance of robust filtering options, enabling them to pinpoint resources tailored to specific subjects, grades, and learning difficulties, thereby expediting lesson planning for students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs).

Additionally, users underscored the significance of personalized account features, such as the ability to log in, save preferences, and access exclusive functionalities. Recognizing the collaborative nature of education, users expressed keen interest in reviewing and sharing resources with fellow educators, advocating for a robust feedback mechanism and seamless integration with social media platforms. Furthermore, the capacity to download and save resources for offline use emerged as a crucial feature, empowering teachers to adapt materials flexibly within their lesson plans.

Lastly, users highlighted the importance of a "favorites" functionality, enabling them to curate a repository of go-to resources for future reference and integration into teaching materials. Through attentive listening and iterative refinement, we remain committed to delivering a user-centric platform that empowers educators to thrive in their mission of nurturing diverse learners. 


Future Steps 

Looking ahead, our future plans for the platform are centered around continuous improvement and refinement based on user feedback. We aim to empower users with more control over the format they prefer for downloading resources, addressing their diverse needs and preferences.

Redesigning the dashboard to prioritize views and items that are most valuable to users will enhance usability and streamline navigation. Ensuring robust security measures around IEPs within the "IEP Tracker" feature is paramount to safeguard sensitive information and maintain confidentiality. In addition, organizing the lesson planning feature more effectively will optimize workflow and support teachers in their instructional planning.

We are committed to further exploring how teachers can leverage AI tools and template sharing platforms to enhance their teaching practices and resource utilization. Improving functionality, including enhancing the login and signup process, is a priority to enhance user experience and accessibility. Expanding the range of resource types and learning difficulties available in the corresponding filters will enrich the platform's content diversity and relevance. 

Introducing an active "sort by" button and search bar on the resource page will facilitate seamless navigation and resource discovery. 

Furthermore, implementing an upload, review, and categorize feature will empower teachers to contribute their own resources, fostering a collaborative community of sharing and learning. 

Looking forward, we are excited to explore the potential of AI in generating and categorizing quality resources based on specific requirements, further enhancing the platform's utility and effectiveness in supporting educators' needs. These future enhancements underscore our commitment to innovation and user-centric design, ensuring that our platform continues to evolve in response to the ever-changing landscape of education.


Product Manager Learnings:

Ernest Mzandu, Amina Suleiman

  • Taking the time to understand each team member’s process more clearly to be able to provide them with the right information at the right time.
  • Effective Communication: Clear and proactive communication is vital for aligning team efforts and ensuring project success.
  • Decisive Decision Making: Embracing decisiveness enables efficient problem-solving and prevents indecision from stalling progress.
  • User-Centric Approach: Prioritizing user feedback and needs guides product development, ensuring the final product meets user expectations.

Designer Learnings:

Rachel Brenner

  • User Empathy: Understanding the needs and preferences of end users drives the creation of intuitive and visually appealing designs.
  • Iterative Design Process: Embracing an iterative approach allows for continuous improvement and refinement based on user feedback.
  • Collaboration with Developers: Close collaboration with developers ensures seamless integration of design elements and enhances the overall user experience.

Developer Learnings:

Valerie McCray Vodovnik

  • Collaboration: Working closely as a team and leveraging each other's strengths enhances productivity and problem-solving.
  • Adaptability: Being open to learning new technologies and techniques is essential for overcoming technical challenges and evolving skill sets.

Developers Learnings:

Jiliene Circelli


  • Collaboration: Working closely as a team and leveraging each other's strengths enhances productivity and problem-solving.
  • Adaptability: Being open to learning new technologies and techniques is essential for overcoming technical challenges and evolving skill sets.

Full Team Learning

Communication, collaboration and empathy for one another