How do you make project based learning simple for students and teachers? Project based learning is an emerging education technique where students take on real world projects to learn directly from experience.

The Loft is an e-learning app designed to facilitate project based learning. Students create their own projects by setting goals and gathering feedback from peers and teachers, while following a guided curriculum. As ForgeWorks’ Design Director and product lead on the Loft, I set out to help define a set of tools for this emerging teaching method.

Working directly with professors at Northwestern University who are currently practicing project based learning was a great resource. We started by creating simple 4-step scenarios to define the issues and map out simple ways to address them digitally.

These scenarios evolved into paper prototypes that served as the basis for cognitive walk-throughs with undergrads. This was a quick way to suss out problems in the designs without spending too much time.

From there, higher fidelity wireframes were created and continued to be tested and iterated until designs for each feature reached a point where the visual design was defined enough to be developed into a working application.


Working along with researchers and developers, we integrated design ideas from sketches to prototypes to high-fidelity visual design in Sketch. Our team worked quickly and agile with each member wearing several hats. One day a developer may be suggesting UX, another a researcher may be presenting design ideas. My job was to bring all these design ideas together and create a cohesive digital product.

The Loft is currently in closed beta but several clients have been successfully using it for several years. The project is ongoing and continuing to develop at a rapid pace as the industry changes and becomes more defined.

I’m Andy Rench, an experienced product design leader. 

I love creating simple solutions for complex problems. And what really excites me is leading design process and building teams to do just that.