iHerOnline – Our Digital Product Manager tells all.

Written by: Mica on May 5, 2021
Tags: women in stem, Women in Tech

As you may know, last year, the InnovateHer team pivoted from in-person education delivery, to 100% virtual. This year, we decided to create a state of the art e-learning platform for teens across the UK. As a small team, it was quite the feat, but with belief, passion and plenty of zoom calls, we’re are delighted to announce that our new e-learning platform – iHerOnline – is now live.

To celebrate the occasion, we caught up with Leanne, our Community Manager turned Digital Product Manager. Leanne has been heading up the project, overseeing everything from the UX design, to the functionality and user research.

Why do you think the online platform is right for InnovateHer?

We had talked about this as an idea in my first annual strategy meeting with iHER in 2019. Then in March 2020 we built a portal within six weeks of school’s closing and spent the rest of the year in learning and testing mode – we didn’t exactly plan this. In November 2020, we finally won a bid after many, many hard months of difficult applications. This fast-tracked what was an idea into a six-month project.

It’s right for us, for a number of reasons:

  1. National impact – we went from nearly launching in London physically in April 2020 to reaching more diverse ranges of students across the country, virtually. The pandemic also put a booster behind the need for us to campaign to help shine a light on the digital divide in the UK.
  2. Flexibility & diversity – we have more volunteers from across the country = more diverse role models for our students.
  3. Time & research – we have grabbed time back from commuting and meetings and put this into holding focus groups and research sessions with ambassadors, students, teachers and members, time spent wisely.
  4. We’re a social enterprise teaching tech skills – virtual learning feels right, we still want to keep a live element and that’s our new challenge!

A small team with big aspirations meant that we all had to adapt to complete this massive project, you more so than the rest of the team. Can you tell us a bit about your pivot from ‘Community Manager’ to ‘Digital Product Manager’?

The pivot was kind of natural, I have experience working on eCommerce teams and worked in digital since I graduated – so let’s go with “I have the right foundation of skills”. For a long time, I’ve wanted to do a more creative role, and this project has allowed me to start as a beginner with no real expectation of myself – that’s been a lovely feeling to have.

CURIOSITY  I have a supportive team and a great mentor which has helped me learn and receive helpful feedback – I’ve also been able to lean on our wider network for all kinds of advice so I’ve always felt like it’s been so collaborative COLLABORATION. I have found a passion for accessible design and really have a lot to learn which is exciting.

Ok, so in one sentence – what is iHerOnline?

It’s a fun, vibrant, e-learning platform which allows us to deliver our courses to young women aged 13-16 online.

What were the steps in building it?

In simple terms this is what the six months have looked like:

What can students do on iHerOnline?

Can it be taught in classrooms? 

Yes, you can learn as an individual or in a group! This was a really important feature for teachers based on our research and previous work with schools.

What is the end game? What do we want to come out of the platform?

The end game is to:

1) expand and create something the students really love

2) be a leading provider in young women’s education and be massively reputable in creating safe, digital spaces for women to be themselves and feel supported. 

I was part of the ‘Girls Brigade’ for 14 years between the important ages of 4-16yrs old. It was a community that made me so much more confident than I might have been and I learnt the power of all female communities (thanks Mum), so maybe that’s where my passion comes from for this community. I just love women supporting women across all parts of life.

Fave features?

I’ve created a video highlighting my favourite features – watch below and let me know what you think. If there are any designers out there who’d like to be a mentor, let me know as I’ll be looking for a new one in a couple of months time.

Future aspirations for the platform?

I want the girls to feel empowered and understood through our brand and our content. I want to support and possibly disrupt the National Curriculum and keep the platform fun, engaging, accessible and comfortable to use. Let’s hope some of our students are disrupting the tech space in 10 years time.

Are you a teacher/learning provider/community leader? We are looking for 100 students to test our new eLearning platform first. Tap here to get your students involved.

Are you a business who wants to support us on our journey? We welcome you. Tap here to get started!

Are you a student who wants to explore career options and delve into the crazy world of tech? Start your adventure here!

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