Instructor Onboarding Design

General Assembly is a global technology bootcamp and career accelerator that is expanding rapidly. 
How do we design a successful and scalable instructor onboarding experience that can be implemented across 17 different markets? 

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The Context

General Assembly's main product offering is a 10-12 week long immersive learning experience that provides people with the skills to get a job in the tech industry. With 20 campuses in 6 different countries and around 40,000 alums (this includes part-time and online courses) GA's impact in both the tech ed and job markets is strong and growing. However, as the education market becomes increasingly competitive and diversified, GA's success hinges on their ability to deliver on their value proposition: driving successful student outcomes (success in the job market) while providing a quality student experience. 

Instructional Quality is a fundamental driver in the delivery of GA's Value Proposition. Successful and consistent instructor onboarding is a core tool to ensure instructional quality across campuses.   

The Challenge

Every market has local innovations that address issues and challenges specific to that community and culture. While this can result in unique solutions that address specific problems, the results are sometimes more stopgaps rather than sustainable processes.  

This problem became clear when I went through the onboarding process as an instructor. My co-instructor Taylor Ferrari was tasked with onboarding three new instructors in a month in preparation for two cohorts kicking off simultaneously.

The current process is decentralized, with each campus implementing its own communications and processes. We did a task analysis to identify all the components of instructor onboarding, and what we discovered was a decentralized system that was confusing to access, difficult to navigate, and not easily maintained or updated

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The Immersive Experience

Education is never an easy task. General Assembly has created a culture where education is delivered in innovative ways. Yet the full-time experience is immersive and oftentimes exhausting - for both students and instructors. The many moving pieces that instructors are responsible for contribute to negative outcomes, including burn out and frequent turnover. 

The onboarding stage can help address some of the drivers for these outcomes by better establishing expectations, creating a clear path for support, providing access to centralized and updated resources, and considering educational best practices. 

The key objectives of the onboarding stage are to set instructors up for success by:

  • Familiarizing them to the systems and materials that drive the classroom experience
  • Communicating the expectations for both student and instructor 
  • Informing them where they can find resources and additional forms of support 
  • Introducing them to the GA culture and code of conduct
  • Empowering them to be confident classroom leaders 

The Process 

Through a variety of evaluation methods, my collaborator Taylor Ferrari and I dug into the current process to identify pain points and opportunities in the system. 

Specifically, we wanted to: 

  • Uncover systemic onboarding issues and specific pain points that might be addressed through a local innovation
  • Discover how these issues impact quality of experience for both Instructors and Students
  • Assess the business impact of poor onboarding 
  • Make recommendations to the global team around improvements to the overall process 
 Taylor during our collaborative work session 

Taylor during our collaborative work session