Improving teachers’ workflow with effective and usable tools.



McGraw-Hill, a titan in the education sector offering a wealth of teacher and student resources—from textbooks to classroom materials—was looking to improve their digital tools for K-5 teachers. By building prototypes for easy-to-use platforms, McGraw-Hill hoped to empower teachers and improve classroom outcomes across the country.

McGraw-Hill sought out Borough + Block to model human-centered design and design research in order to equip in-house design teams to devise product ideas and prototypes with the needs of teachers at the core of the design.



During the engagement, Borough + Block offered more than just design advisory services. We worked side-by-side each week with five specialized design teams: Authentic Student Work, Gamification, Data & Differentiation, Teacher Planning, and Whole-Class Instruction.


Design Thinking Facilitation and Training

At each step, we offered coaching and resources to get the five teams thinking about their project from a human-centered design perspective. This included short talks in our regular team meetings as well as infographics, guides, and other materials that dealt with user research, design thinking, and new methods.


User Research

We started the research by speaking with teachers at the K-5 level to understand their needs and glean crucial information for how McGraw-Hill platforms could better serve classroom outcomes.


Acceptance and usability Testing

Once McGraw-Hill developed prototypes based on the initial research, we brought these prototypes into teacher interviews to understand how effectively they were serving the end-users’ needs.



With researched and tested prototypes in-hand, McGraw-Hill has everything they need to build powerful tools for educators. But McGraw-Hill developed more than just their platform—the design team is now thinking about the products through a human-centered design lens. In the long term, they’ll produce better products for teachers, and by extension, better outcomes for all of the students those teachers will impact in the years to come.



About Borough + Block

Borough + Block is a human-centered design studio focused on learning and educational projects. We turn user insights into strategies and build customized education programs and tools so our clients can grow. We guide research methods, build strategies, provide design direction, and coach teams through the process of change and implementation.