Doddle v4.0 – complete with its brand new mobile app – has been one of this homework platform’s biggest and most exciting changes in the seven years I’ve worked on it. Of course with big and exciting comes complex – and we’re proud to have helped Doddle meet the challenge of making a great product even better for teachers, students and parents.
Can Studios has hosted, supported and updated Doddle since developing the original platform in 2011. Doddle’s self-marking, curricula-linked resources help 15,000 teachers to quickly and easily set homework tasks for around 320,000 students each week.
Version 4.0 plus the mobile app mark a leap forward in the mobile user experience for students – a key priority for Doddle. As Product Owner Paul Mallaband explained:
“Doddle has great resources and we want it to be as easy as possible for students to get the most out of them. By making the student area fully mobile responsive, and creating an app with notifications, we’ve made keeping on top of homework easier. Now they can hop on to check or complete tasks anytime or anywhere.”
Can Studios has been delivering Doddle releases using Agile methodology for some time. And that’s provided a sound framework for Doddle to test the extensive changes to user interface for 4.0 – while controlling delivery time and cost. Paul Mallaband agreed:
“We always have to balance what users like with making sure the system is robust, and giving schools value for money. The Agile model meant that where we had to find compromises it was done consciously, based on testing, before we committed anything to code.”
Paul told us that in testing, the app also proved a big hit with parents. As well as keeping them up to date with what their children have on homework-wise, the daily summary notifications help parents start meaningful conversations about school work with (often taciturn!) teenagers.
Of course, creating a mobile app for an existing platform – as we did here – introduces exponential complexity in accommodating different devices, operating systems, screen widths… and so on. It’s not just look and feel, it’s functionality. It’s right down to differences in how the back buttons on Android or Apple behave in interactions between the app and the huge Doddle resource and accounts databases.
For the Doddle team, this is where the strong connection with Can Studios, and our deep product knowledge, really were key for this release. As Paul said:
“The level of complexity of building an app threw up intricacies and bugs we just didn’t expect – so the direct communication we get with the whole team at Can was invaluable. Developers right in the detail of the code were forthcoming to say ‘Have you thought about…’ or ‘What will the end point of this be?’ – meaning we could anticipate problems.
“Our team has some technical knowledge – but we’re not software developers. We’ll come up with lovely ideas, not appreciating the associated technical challenges. Some agencies would just take our spec and run with it. But Can Studios interrogate it and improve it – which saves us time and money, and ultimately delivers a better product.”
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Doddle’s self-marking, curricula-linked resources help 15,000 teachers to quickly and easily set homework tasks for around 320,000 students each week. Find out more at doddlelearn.co.uk
Version 4.0 of Doddle went live in December 2018. The Doddle Learn app is available in the Google Play and Apple stores.