As HotChalk continues to deepen its university partnerships, and as evidence keeps growing that our platform and services drive quality educational outcomes, it’s worth highlighting a sometimes-overlooked but still critical part of our success: Design.

Now, much is made these days of Design, with a capital D. Whether it’s applied to a website, a tablet or a piece of furniture, Design demands a more robust mindfulness to a combination of tiny details and creativity that elevate functionality into aesthetics. And frankly, sometimes claims about Design are more buzzword than reality.

But the more work we do with educational institutions, the clearer it becomes that a significant element of the value we provide lies in not just the data and the technology and support our teams offer — but in the way we equip faculty with the tools to be great at design.

There continues to be an assumption within both educational and tech circles that a technology-influenced approach to learning is somehow one-size-fits-all, or sillier still, “one-device/video-fits-all.” And, indeed, a lot of early EdTech efforts reflected this kind of uniform approach — and led to limited and predictably disappointing outcomes.

At HotChalk, though, we know that each institution and indeed each curriculum is different. That’s taken for granted in the brick-and-mortar world. In fact, it’s the basis for almost all decisions that students and teachers make when they consider what school to attend or where to work. Why should curriculum expansion online be an exception?

The answer is simple: It shouldn’t. And in fact, when a student body is dispersed geographically and perhaps operating asynchronously, the virtual educational experience is arguably even more critical. Which takes us back to design.

One of the things where we are the best in the industry is using our experience, our data, and our creativity to help universities make their online programs more than just functional. They make them engaging — delightful even — in a hundred small ways that collectively showcase the best that an institution and its teachers have to offer.

We’ll explore some of the specifics of this in another post. But for the moment, we simply wanted to plant a flag in the ground and articulate the idea that it’s not just the Apples of this world that use design to make what they create “insanely great.” So do our partner universities — and that as much as anything is the secret to our growing success.