Behind the scenes: Our Lead Product Designer shares some exciting news! 🚀

Thomas Courtley, ex teacher and LessonUp education specialist

Thomas Courtley

Education Specialist

We interviewed Olaf Muller, LessonUp's Lead Product Designer, for a sneak peek into the 'behind the scenes' of our online teaching platform.


As a Lead Product Designer, what do you do?

To understand what I do and what online product design is, we first need to understand what design is about in the broader sense. Simply put, design is about problem-solving, and it isn't exclusive to designers: we all engage in it.

Most of us think about how we can fix a problem before actually doing so. For product designers like me, it’s the same. In my specific case, the issues I unravel are related to teachers and educators. I help them resolve potential challenges through the interface they interact with.

At LessonUp we work with design principles, and one of these is ‘teachers first’. What we mean is that teachers should always be in control of whatever they do while using our platform.

Could you give us some examples of challenges we solve?

enrich pictogram

Learnt behaviours

Many teachers are used to working with PowerPoint or Google Slides. They are comfortable with ways of working with these programmes that we cannot ignore. Very soon, the most familiar learnt behaviours will be part of our platform too.

person with brains pictogram

Cognitive overload

Hotspots are little buttons you can strategically place on a slide. By clicking on them you can reveal what’s behind them: textual explanations, imagery or sound. This approach holds pedagogical value as it presents information gradually.

wand with effects pictogram

Time shortage

One way to solve this issue is by using artificial intelligence. However, AI can be used in ways that disrupt control. When we designed Maia, we made sure that teachers are in control: from the selected sources, to Maia's output, to what is taught.


What design project are you working on right now?

We have been working on an exciting new solution for over a year now. We are very happy with the progress made so far.

It will help create a better experience for teachers worldwide. The code base that we have written for this solution allows us LessonUppers to rapidly add new features to the platform. In the future, imagine possibilities like animations and flash cards! 

One of the main benefits is that we are moving away from our current interface, to a fresher, more intuitive and user-friendly one. However, we are mindful of preserving our current features.

Can you reveal when the official launch of this new solution will happen?

No. If I say something, and it doesn’t happen, people are going to find me right away! Quality is more important than timing. I trust to reveal the following: it will happen sometime this year. 😉


Do you have any contact with teachers? How does that fit into your job?

My colleague Joy (Customer Success) is the first person to listen to the challenges teachers experience. 

For our upcoming launch, we have been talking to around 250 teachers who have volunteered to participate in the test group. They provide us with feedback by completing surveys. If we require more insights on specific aspects, we plan interviews centred around their user experience. Armed with their precious feedback, we work on refining the solution, and release improvements every two weeks. Then we ask the test group to test it all over again, and evaluate if we hit the mark!


Have you ever been totally surprised by the feedback of a teacher?

Over the years I have developed a good feeling for what teachers need or want. There is empathy and experience. What I still forget sometimes are the differences in tech-savviness.

I should not assume that other people have the same technical knowledge we have in our line of work. Teachers vary widely in their familiarity with technology, ranging from those who don’t know basic keyboard shortcuts, to others who are used to working with complex software. Designing an interface for such a wide range of people is exactly the kind of opportunity I love.

The less time teachers spend on repetitive and unnecessary tasks, the more time can be spent on improving education in whatever way they envision.
Olaf Muller
Lead Product Designer–LessonUp

How do you help teachers engage with their students?

Teachers are the ultimate experts in understanding how to effectively engage with their students. Our role is to provide them with tools to address the challenges they encounter, and facilitate them in doing the most important job in the world.

What truly matters are the methods and practices teachers employ to improve learning outcomes. It's not about specific tools or devices: it's about harnessing their empathy and expertise to guide students towards their best future.


What part of your job do you like the most?

I feel very satisfied when teachers give us positive feedback about our platform. That is at the core, because then I am sure I have done my job well. Yet what I love the most are the interactions with my design team. Watching designers evolve and apply their design-thinking skills, both in the office and beyond, make me so very happy!

At the end of the day, why do you do what you do?

My son is only five years old. The idea that I can help his teachers provide him with the best possible education fills me with determination. 💪

We understand that not all students have access to phones, laptops, or tablets. That's why you can use LessonUp also for in-person interaction, or for part of your lesson.
Olaf Muller