A learning management system for progressive, project-based learning environments.

Photo of Ozzy Simpson
9 7

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Instagram: @ozzy.simpson or @oznorts Snapchat: @oznorts Facebook: Twitter: @ozsimpson

Date Started

January 8th, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

In the fourth grade, my class had a hard time remembering our homework. I thought a website could fix that problem, so I created a simple blog that listed all of the homework assigned that day. Now, about six years later, I’ve used a few full-featured learning management systems and have realized that none of them are really that good. For example, my school uses multiple learning management systems to utilize the best features of each. Last year, as part of a project, I redesigned one of our learning management systems to show that it’s not just the features of an LMS, but it’s also the design of them that matters in how useful they are. This year, I had the opportunity to continue my redesign project from last year as a class but turn it into making my own learning management system that would effectively support students, their curiosity, and make progressive education easier for all.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

One problem I’m trying to solve is that teachers designing their curriculum for a progressive, project-based learning environment for the first time may not know how to set it up best. By solving this with my LMS, teachers can create better curriculums that focus on the students and skills they’ll need in life. Students also focus too much on the grade they get, instead of how much they actually learned and how much they still can learn.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

I am developing a learning management system that focuses on four main principles: usability, mastery, project-based learning, and student-driven education. My first goal is to make an LMS that is easy and fast to use for all users, but still provides all of the features they may need in an LMS. Second, my LMS will not allow students to see numeric grades until the class is over and they receive their final grade. Instead, students will see progress bars from No Credit to Met for each skill the teacher assesses in that class. Teachers may also provide written feedback for skills and assignments. Third, my LMS will allow for project-based learning that keeps students on track with their projects. A student project page would help students manage their project and related documents, as well as the grading and feedback of it. Lastly, I hope to allow students to lead the education they receive. This includes self-assessment, assignment options for students (set by teachers), the ability for students to post resources and ideas for the whole class to see.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Imagine a student gets home from school and receives an email notification containing all of the work they need to do tonight for tomorrow’s school day. They click on one of the assignments, say from their math class, which brings them to the assignment page. They can see all of the linked documents and click on one of the worksheets their teacher assigned (since the teacher allowed their students to pick just one of the five worksheets to complete), which is a copy of a Google Doc their teacher provided that’s automatically shared with their teacher. They work on the Google Doc, filling out the worksheet, and then go back to the LMS where they submit the worksheet. After submitting, the student is sent to a page to self-assess their work. They submit their self-assessment, which is also submitted to the teacher.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Most learning management systems are designed for teachers and administrators because they are the stakeholders businesses sell to, but my LMS is designed by and for students. That doesn’t mean the needs of faculty won’t be taken into account, it just means that the student takes a more central role in how the system works. One other big difference about my project is that mine focuses on progressive education and project-based, student-centered learning. Instead of using a traditional school model, my LMS focuses on student-centered learning.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

While my project is in the idea-stage right now, I hope to start beta testing my LMS at my high school in the next year or two. While my school is already a progressive school and the curriculum is project-based, I plan to use my testing there to make sure it supports that better than the other learning management systems we use. I will regularly ask all users for feedback, about specific features and workflows, as well as about the system as a whole.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Over the summer, I plan on starting development of the web app so that a functional prototype could be used for at least a portion of the next school year. I do not think I can completely finish developing the LMS over the summer, but I do plan on getting a fully-functional beta version done by the 2019–2020 school year. I will do this by developing it further during next school year. After testing my LMS at my school and refining it, I hope to get more schools on board (both progressive and traditional schools).

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

I run a website development business so I have the resources needed to start building the LMS, but I will definitely need help in sales and marketing to get other schools to use it when it’s ready. As of now, I haven’t gotten any support besides interviews with stakeholders at my school, although I just recently partnered with a classmate to help me with design and feature planning. Besides that, connections with people in the education, ed-tech, and developer spaces would be helpful to make sure that my LMS is secure, fulfills the needs of educators across the country, and to make sure I take into account everything that could go wrong or needs to be considered when running an LMS at scale.

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

During the research portion of my project, I talked to teachers, students, and administrators at my school to get a better sense of how they want technology to help the classroom environment. I got many ideas for features and things to remember while developing my LMS. After that, I prototyped some screens of the web app and got some feedback from teachers and friends. From their feedback, I refined the prototypes a bit more. I will continue to solicit feedback from friends and other young people and stakeholders throughout the entire process of developing my LMS.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French) (6)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Religious minority (non-Christian)

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media
  • Recommended by others
  • T-Mobile page or contact
  • Word of mouth

Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?

I heard about the Challenge through T-Mobile as well as my high school, Sequoyah High School.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Sierra RyanWallick

Hi Ozzy! I love this idea! It seems like you have identified a real problem that faces a lot of students these days, and I can tell that you are passionate about finding a solution! Please let me know if there is ever a way I can help and definitely keep up the great work! :)

Photo of Ozzy Simpson

Thanks so much, Sierra! I'm super excited to improve students relationship with technology in school in a way that lets them stay focused on their work and prepares them for the real world. I will definitely let you know if there's anything I need your help with!

View all comments