How Teamworks Academics went from Idea to Reality

November 9th, 2018Do you ever wonder how Teamworks creates the products and features you rely on? Or what impact the feedback you share has on our app? THE NEEDTeamworks partners with more than 1,800 Division I teams to engage and empower their student-athletes. With so many student-athletes on our platform, we are uniquely positioned observe trends, challenges and opportunities impacting college athletes and those who support them.“My days are booked solid. Especially in-season, I’m trying to keep my head above water. With games, practices and all of the time on the road it can be tough to find time to get everything done...let alone have time to relax or hang out with friends.”DIVISION I STUDENT-ATHLETE“Student-athletes today are under tremendous time constraints and stress,” said Andrew Hooge, Director of Product Strategy at Teamworks. “One of the big questions we wanted to address when designing Academics was how do we give the student-athlete time back in their day as well as the autonomy to take more control of their success in the classroom and beyond.”According to Hooge, part of what drives Teamworks product strategy and innovation comes directly from conversations with student-athletes and the athletic department. “We make it a point to visit with students in person, observe how they interact with their team, coaches and other athletic staff and have a lot of one-on-one conversations to better understand their challenges and opportunities and where we can add value,” said Hooge. From those conversations, a couple themes emerged: how organizing and managing a student-athlete’s Academic coursework and performance was a significant stressor. Combine that with other responsibilities including travel, training, clubs and student-athletes’ days are packed. It’s no surprise that this level of commitment leads to stress. This gave us our design challenge - how might we give student-athletes back time in their day and provide them with more autonomy to manage their academics? THE OPPORTUNITYAcademics held the key for reducing stress and creating time. We know academic performance is critical for student-athletes, coaches and staff. Beyond determining eligibility to compete, with the vast majority of student-athletes transitioning away from their sport after college, a strong academic foundation is vital for post-collegiate success with their career and life.But how do student-athletes achieve academic success with the multitude of other priorities? To better understand the specific needs, Teamworks product and design team observed and interviewed academic and athletic staff at more than 30 schools According to Hooge, “We were seeking a way for collegiate athletic programs to more deeply engage with student-athletes while giving them more autonomy in setting and achieving their goals.”During these interviews, we consistently heard a strong desire to pivot to an objective-based learning model, a system in which academic plans are based on a combination of the student-athlete’s academic requirements and the establishment of personal learning goals and needs.“Two years ago, we achieved our highest all-team GPA in history, eclipsing the 3.0 mark by moving to an objective-based learning management system for all sport programs. Teamworks Academics will continue to enhance our efficiency as we continue to strengthen our commitment to every student-athlete. We look forward to maximizing our staff’s time and achieving even greater academic success.”CHRIS UCHACZAssociate Athletic Director – Director GSACUniversity of Maryland"The value of objective-based learning is well-documented and many schools we spoke with wanted to implement the system for their student-athletes," said Hooge. "The issue? With finite resources and lengthy to-do lists, how can academics staff create individualized plans for every student-athlete?"THE SOLUTIONWith a clear goal (decrease stress and increase engagement for student-athletes) and path to achieve it (create a product that allows objective-based learning plans to be scaled throughout the athletic department while making other tasks more efficient). Now, we were ready to design Teamworks Academics. To hear Andrew break this topic down further, listen to this quick podcast segment!Interested in learning more about how Teamworks Academics is being developed? Sign up for our webinar on Wednesday, November 14 at 4 and 7 pm EST to hear more from Andrew on the design process - and get the first-ever look at Teamworks Academics.

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