Case StudiesCambridge Assessment International Education

How Shorthand is being used to create resources for the professional development of teachers around the globe

When it comes to popularity, time on page and overall customer feedback, Cambridge Assessment International Education’s Shorthand stories are getting full marks all round.

“The risk of trying Shorthand is low, while the reward is high,” Chris Brown, head of online professional learning at Cambridge International, was keen to reveal. “It’s really easy to put together our resources; they look professional, polished and it only takes a short time to create them.”

Cambridge International’s qualifications are recognised by the world’s best universities and employers, giving students a wide range of options in their education and career.

“When we introduced Shorthand, it really was a whole new look and it worked brilliantly on tablet and mobile. Our customers enjoy how accessible the resources are.”

Chris Brown

Not only does it help to educate school students of all ages, it also provides training and resources for teachers across 160 countries - and that’s what they wanted to use Shorthand for.

“We develop key areas of teaching and learning practice; explore the theory, discuss the benefits and consider some practical examples as an introduction to teaching,” Chris explained. “We were looking for a new way to teach ideas and professional development.”

After coming across a story created with Shorthand by a major publisher in 2015, Chris decided to sign up for a subscription. He then got to work on creating a series of resources entitled Getting started with…, covering a range of topics from mentoring to language awareness, that they could host on their own website.

A selection of sections from Cambridge Assessment International Education's stories

“Our stories are quite wordy pieces; occasionally we use interactive graphics. More so, we present text alongside images and embed videos. We often include interviews with experts, for example,” Chris continued.

“When we introduced Shorthand, it really was a whole new look and it worked brilliantly on tablet and mobile. Our customers enjoy how accessible the resources are.”

Scoring high on engagement

“We don’t have engagement levels like that on any other areas of our website… It’s amazing we’ve got that kind of engagement.”

Chris Brown

Chris and his team have been blown away by the stats they’ve collected on their Shorthand stories using Google Analytics, which is easily integrated directly into the editor.

The average time on page for Getting started with… Language Awareness is an impressive 20 minutes, while the other resources created with the visual storytelling tool all average at 10 minutes.

“We don’t have engagement levels like that on any other areas of our website!” Chris exclaimed. “It’s amazing we’ve got that kind of engagement.”

And, the high marks don’t stop there. Getting started with… Assessment for Learning has had over 75,000 views in 18 months, and when you search the web for ‘assessment learning’ it steals one of the top spots.

“The content is good, it’s easy to use and it looks great on all devices, but we’re still astonished at how popular they have been and continue to be.”

Chris Brown

“The content is good, it’s easy to use and it looks great on all devices, but we’re still astonished at how popular they have been and continue to be,” said Chris. “Our assessment learning resource had 6,000 visits alone in October 2017. It was created 18 months ago, but it’s as relevant now as it was then.”

By setting up their own branded theme and a template style, it has been easy for Chris to produce a number of these resources, as well as run courses based on them.

Now, Chris and his team are considering how Shorthand can be utilised for more within the organisation. “We are thinking about using it for instruction manuals, rather than using bland PDFs for example,” he said.

“It’s easy to iteratively design content. You can mock it up, send the link round and get feedback, then setup the design cycles to produce the final product. The user interface is so straightforward.”