“The project was so friction-free that we were able to accomplish more than we had hoped – and do it on time and on budget.”Duncan Van Dusen, Executive Director, CATCH Global Foundation
Using a digital platform to teach kids healthy habits
The CATCH Global Foundation is focused on improving child health and wellness. CATCH uses a highly-effective curriculum based on a wealth of scientific research to teach kids healthy habits.
Duncan Van Dusen, CATCH’s executive director says, “We are a social investor. Our mission is to help communities raise healthier kids.”
Initially developed in 1988 and now being used in over 10,000 schools and communities, teachers used the paper-based curriculum to incorporate activities and information into their lesson plans. Now, Van Dusen wanted to use technology to bring the CATCH curriculum into the 21st century. “Some people won’t use the paper-based curriculum. It’s less convenient in a digital world. We wanted to find a way to bring the program to a wider audience.”
The challenge? Create a publishing platform for a constantly evolving curriculum that would be easy for teachers to use and share content in their classrooms – one that makes it simple for the CATCH team to add, edit and update content as the program evolves and grows.
Bringing the right team and the right technology together
“Before we met CabForward, we had engaged another vendor. They recommended using a Drupal architecture, but it wasn’t right for us. Not only was it inflexible, but it increased the cost and made the timeline longer too,” says Van Dusen.
That first effort gave CATCH a clear vision of what they wanted from a design and requirements perspective. Yet finding the right technology remained elusive. Then Van Dusen foundCabForward. CabForward suggested creating the Digital CATCH app using Ruby on Rails. “They listened to what we wanted and presented us a solution that was what we really needed. They didn’t try to sell us a laundry list of things we didn’t ask for or need. Ruby on Rails was a much better fit. Bottom line, the budget and the technology made much more sense.”
According to Van Dusen, the greatest value was the team itself. The project benefited from the streamlined process, the right talent, and great communication. “From the beginning, our project manager was dealing directly with the people who were doing the work.”
One of the initial problems the team faced was that school districts purchased the curriculum, but teachers didn’t actually use it. CabForward presented a simple, elegant solution. Once an organization is added to the system, Digital Catch provides a unique URL that the school district can send to teachers to sign up. Van Dusen smiles as he states, “It works perfectly – by being both scalable and foolproof.”
One other crucial component was the information architecture. “It started as a mess of spaghetti. CabForward was able to organize our curriculum so it is easy to package and sell. I give them high marks for this.”
What’s more, since CATCH has a very small staff, it’s important to be able to add or update content without a lot of technical expertise. “Content management can be very clumsy. CabForward did it in a very smart way. Not only can our media producers manage content with after watching a simple five-minute video, it’s so easy that our users can sign in and begin using Digital CATCH right away.”
Lower costs, more efficiency, global reach
Digital CATCH is revolutionizing the way the CATCH Global Foundation helps kids learn healthy habits for life and is extending the foundation’s reach globally. Thanks to CabForward’s efficient development process, CATCH was able to go ahead and internationalize the app – something they thought they wouldn’t have budget for initially. They have already added Spanish language versions of the e-cigarette curriculum to Digital CATCH.
Van Dusen says that Digital CATCH is bringing the cost of delivering the program down and producing new revenue. For example, the content is now packaged in a way that allows schools to buy smaller portions of the curriculum making it more affordable and flexible. It’s also much easier to keep the content current – another way operating costs are minimized. “Science and methodology for the program is constantly changing. Now, we can add a major piece of new content or change a comma easily.” When a change is made, it’s distributed around the world immediately.
Most of all, Van Dusen is thrilled with customer feedback. “We’ve deployed our new e-cigarette curriculum and have gotten great feedback. There have been virtually no technical issues – the absence of complaints is deafening!”