Camille Horstmann
UX designer

Thimble

A consultation and competitive analysis of a custom Learning Management System

The Problem

Thimble is an online program that teaches robotic and coding classes for children and young adults. With a fast-growing clientele, they are looking to expand into K-12 schools across the country. Thimble is looking for a learning management system (LMS) that accommodates both students and teachers that fit their STEM-specific lesson plans.

The Process

  1. Evaluate the client, Thimble's current website, and the requirements they identified they want in their new program.

  2. Research existing LMS options as well as alternative resources that might fit the client's needs

  3. Present findings and formal recommendations to the client.

Timeline

3 weeks

Tools

Google sheets, slides, & docs

Role

UX Research - Team of four

Comparative Analysis 

The client provided a list of ideal features that they wished to include in their new LMS.

For Students:

  • Optional login/password (potential synching with Clever or Google Classroom) 

  • Step-by-step written instructions with images and video tutorials

    • Easily consumable presentation for students of any age.

  • Troubleshooting forum

    • If kids hit a wall, they can ask questions in a forum where teachers, students, or the Thimble Support Team can answer. 

  • Thesaurus with technical terms and theoretical concepts

    • A place where kids can find terms they don’t understand. 

  • Lessons offered in different languages (English, Spanish) 

  • Tracks student progress

  • Badges and certifications

    • To award kids that have successfully completed a number of lessons

  • Potential coding interface

    • To teach kids coding multiple languages

  • Student portfolios

    • For students to keep track of their own projects over time. 

For Teachers: 

  • Login/password  

  • Step-by-step written instructions with images and video tutorials

  • Ready-to-teach lesson plans

    • Lessons show alignment to curriculum standards.

    • Lesson plans can be edited and combined with other external resources on the fly 

  • Professional development library 

    • Contains videos for teachers to teach themselves how to use projects and self-certify / earn teaching credits. 

  • Ability to administer quizzes, assessments

  • Can manage individual student progress or class as a whole

  • Can grade students on work

Our Evaluation

Using the requirements the client provided we created a checklist of features to evaluate more than a dozen different LMS's including cookie-cutter and custom-built. We also found three custom-built websites specially designed for coding that would be able to be integrated or embedded into most LMS's.

Thimble
Thimble


Edmodo

is a custom-built learning management system. This existing LMS comes very close to meeting our client's needs. The one feature it lacked was a coding interface. However, the system did allow teachers to integrate coding assignments from other code-specific LMS.


Thimble

CodeHS

is one of three coding-specific learning management systems our team evaluated. All three were found to be capable of interacting with a regular LMS. This would allow the client to utilize a coding interface without designing one from scratch.

Our Recommendations

After evaluating more than a dozen LMSs and coding-focused K-12 websites, we have determined a custom-built platform is going to be most beneficial for Thimble to present their lessons and project kits to schools. This will allow Thimble to integrate its curriculum within the existing LMS that schools already use. It will also allow for an interactive coding interface that cookie-cutter solutions just can’t offer.

Conclusion

We were tasked with completing a comparative analysis of several different learning management systems so as to best advise the client on how to move forward in their plans for expanding their program. By creating a checklist of all their desire features we were able to present our findings to the client side-by-side to highlight which systems would work best.