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Life Education Trust creates vital tools for keeping kids healthy

Becoming an integral part of an Agile development team meant Life Education got just the tools they needed. The results have been critical to the Trust's mission to educate kiwi kids to make healthy choices.

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Life Education
John O'Connell - Life Education

"Boost has had a massive impact. It's been a critical part of where we're at today."

- John O'Connell, Life Education, Chief Executive

Life Education Screen

Last year the Trust's team of about 50 educators—along with Healthy Harold the giraffe—brought their mobile classrooms to about 1,500 schools around New Zealand, working with 11,000 teachers to reach more than 250,000 kids.

1,500

Schools visited around New Zealand

11,000

Teachers worked with around New Zealand

250,000+

Kiwi kids reached

1,500

Schools visited around New Zealand

11,000

Teachers worked with around New Zealand

250,000+

Kiwi kids reached

Life Education Screen
Life Education Screen
Life Education Classroom Life Education Classroom
Life Education Classroom
Life Education Classroom

New way of working needed

The trust realised they had to change the way they worked so they could tailor lessons for each class. This needed a digital tool that let educators and teachers work together to create custom lesson plans.

Initial work with one company stalled and other vendors wouldn't adapt their processes to take into account the work that had already been done.

Pragmatic approach makes the difference

"Boost were saying 'OK, I can see you've done the work. We're ready to help you. Let's go', says Life Education Chief Executive John O'Connell. "I thought, 'Great. Here's someone who wants to work with us rather than putting us through the machinery of their standard approach,'."

For Boost, Agile development is pragmatic rather than process-driven. Agile is something you are, not something you do.

Agile Board
Boost Developers

Agile development gives more value for less risk

"I hate IT projects. You've always got that apprehension about where it's going," says John. "My job is to manage risk. So my concern is, can they deliver and what's the likelihood of it going outside our budget?".

Boost's Agile approach helped because it breaks work into short iterations called Sprints.

"At the end of each Sprint, you've actually got something, rather than the waterfall-type approach where you don't have anything until the end," says John.

Life Education's product owner Jess Limbrick says Agile makes sure you only build what you need. "I definitely think Agile gives far more value," she says.

"I hate IT projects. You've always got that apprehension about where it's going to go. My job is to manage risk. So my concern is, can they deliver and what's the likelihood of it going outside our budget?"

John O'Connell - Life Education John O'Connell
Life Education Chief Executive
Jess Limbrick - Life Education

"I definitely think Agile gives far more value."

- Jess Limbrick, Life Education Product Owner

Life Education Xmas Party

Working directly with developers drives Agile development

"It sounds a little bit corny, but you do have that perception that you are an integral part of their business," says John. "You feel integrated within your project."

"With the developers in the room, you're actually privy to the full conversation, whereas often if you're dealing with an agency, you're only dealing with the suits," says John. "It's good to be in there with the do-ers and hear the thinking about what can be achieved and what can't."

Jess agrees. "The best part about Agile is that day-to-day knowledge of what is happening."

"Being included throughout the entire process gives you the ability to respond to change really, really quickly."

Jess Limbrick - Life Education Jess Limbrick
Life Education Product Owner

Tackling a mission-critical project

The move to flexible lesson planning was massive, says John. "It was critical for our whole program. It wasn't something on the side, it was a fundamental change."

The result was the Lesson Lab planning tool. Now educators and teachers can drag and drop resources to plan lessons together online.


Agile embeds users in the development process

This was a completely new way of working for educators so they needed to be introduced to gradually.

The Agile development approach let the Trust bring educators along the journey. By delivering working software early, Life Education could test it with educators.

Measuring the benefits

Lessons are now more relevant and the benefits continue long after the mobile classroom has left.

"It's increased the value of our program and increased the outcomes. We're seeing that through feedback with teachers," says Jess. "We're responding to their needs better."

As a result, key metrics such as the number of teachers wanting to recommend the programme to their colleagues have jumped for each of the last four years.

Jess Limbrick - Life Education

"It's increased the value of our program and increased the outcomes."

- Jess Limbrick, Life Education Product Owner

Harold

Coming back for more

Life Education then wanted to replace the Customer Relationship Management tool (CRM) with one that integrated the lesson planner with a booking tool.

Because the relationship was working, they came back to Boost.

"If we have an issue, it never gets into the formal debate," says John. "The discussion is always about, 'What's the best way to do it?'."

One issue the Boost team identified was potential performance problems due to the complex data. A data modelling session identified ways to simplify the data, making future development easier and saving time and money.

Life Education - Harold
Life Education Resources

Increasing access to information

The new CRM gives the whole Life Education team more information so they can work more efficiently. Teachers can review past lessons to plan future classes and the new reporting on who taught what and when lets Life Education refine their service.

The complex taxonomy for the lesson resources meant they were hard for teachers to find so Boost created an easy-to-use interactive search tool.

"Teachers are going, 'Oh wow, you've got this whole online portal of resources where I can go and download what I want, save it and use it, and go back later.'" says Jess.

Life Education Resources

Increasing access to information

The new CRM gives the whole Life Education team more information so they can work more efficiently. Teachers can review past lessons to plan future classes and the new reporting on who taught what and when lets Life Education refine their service.

Life Education Resources

The complex taxonomy for the lesson resources meant they were hard for teachers to find so Boost created an easy-to-use interactive search tool.

"Teachers are going, 'Oh wow, you've got this whole online portal of resources where I can go and download what I want, save it and use it, and go back later.'" says Jess.

Life Education Resources
Jess Limbrick - Life Education

"Teachers are going, 'Oh wow, you've got this whole online portal of resources."

- Jess Limbrick, Life Education Product Owner

Boost has massive impact

The next phase for the Life Education and Boost will be to build a direct digital relationship with the kids, using the combined power of the Life Education and Boost teams.

"Boost has had a massive impact," John says. "It's been a critical part of where we're at today."

For the CE, it boils down to three things.

"We got what we were after. The relationship works. And the coffee's really good, too."