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Summit Public Schools—a charter management organization and nonprofit that uses personalized learning to prepare a diverse population for success—believes that education can deliver on its promise of helping all children achieve their potential. Its results are astounding: 96% of its graduates are accepted into at least one four-year college and its students finish college at double the national average.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, with its focus on supporting personalized learning schools, partnered with MediaStorm to develop a toolset that would make the ideas and philosophies of Summit Public Schools accessible to anyone. In so doing, we hope to amplify Summit’s impact, enabling educators across the country to understand how personalized learning meets many of the challenges of 21st century learning.

To achieve our goals, MediaStorm built an interactive website that combines storytelling, video, and interaction design, to create an immersive experience that shows users what it’s like to teach, learn, and thrive at Summit Public Schools.

The site has already yielded powerful results–educators from across the country are reporting that the site helps them understand what it’s like to learn and teach at Summit - reducing the need for them to visit one of the schools in-person. Summit also reports that the launch of the site has helped recruitment for the Summit Learning program, a partnership targeted at bringing personalized learning to schools across the country.

Link: Summit Public Schools Interactive Website
Client: Summit Public Schools, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Startup:Education
Published: February 1, 2017

The Challenge
Summit Public School is flooded with requests for in-person tours. When educators participated in these tours, they very quickly understood both how the school worked and how to implement a similar model. To recreate that experience, we needed a solution that would communicate the ‘vibe and feel’ of Summit, while delivering technical and complex information in a simple way. To achieve these goals, we would need to consider a variety of approaches:

  • Video would be critical to depict the experience of both teachers and students at Summit. Because educators were the primary audience, these films needed to be clear and compelling but also detailed enough to demonstrate the model itself.
  • Data was instrumental in helping administrative educators interested in implementing the program get the information they needed.

The website comes at a time when personalized learning is under scrutiny; hence one of the goals of the website was to dispel many of the myths surrounding it. These myths served as barriers to entry for other schools and as producers and designers, we had to be vigilant about both eliminating these myths and depicting the Summit experience as accurately as possible.

Our Work
Over the course of just four months, MediaStorm produced an immersive experience that demonstrated that Summit Public Schools as a best practice in personalized learning; and one that could be brought to any school in America.

Our work was grounded in the intention to allow users to choose their own pathway for discovery into the model. We developed the following primary mechanisms for users to experience Summit:.

To introduce the lay viewer to the site, we developed an Overview Video. Because educators have heard so much about personalized learning already, it was critical that this film provide enough substance into the model to allow for curious engagement. To enhance this engagement - and to demonstrate that Summit’s model is possible across diverse settings - we created an updatable Fact Sheet, that allows users to quickly get a sense of Summit’s history, demographics, and academic achievements.

We provide two pathways for users who want to go one step deeper and learn how the Summit model is implemented through an interactive tour:

An interactive video that follows a student through the different parts of the Summit model.

An interactive video that follows a teacher at Summit and documents how teachers personalize instruction, foster community, and support students to achieve success.

The videos that depict teacher and student experiences are interactive. Users can choose, at any point, which part of the experience to watch. They can also dig deeper into select subjects that are cornerstones of the Summit model by clicking on an annotation card. This card provides in-depth information on the subject, and can be read while the video is on a short pause. Users can easily navigate back to the video.

For expert users who are ready to implement the model, we developed an expert class, called “How it Works”, which provides all you need to know about implementing the Summit model.

The entire tour experience is powered by a powerful, custom-made CMS that enables Summit to shape the tour as it sees fit; additional pathways can be authored, with any number of videos added along each path.

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