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A Goodstart for all Australian families

Working with Goodstart, Zeroseven helped to build an engaging collection of fun and enriching activities to help children and their parents enhance their learning experience at home.

Off to a Goodstart

Goodstart is an Australian-owned social enterprise founded on a vision of giving children the best possible start in life, through access to quality early learning.

Founded in 2009 by a consortium of community sector organisations, including The Benevolent Society, Mission Australia, the Brotherhood of St Laurence and Social Ventures Australia, Goodstart is a not-for-profit organisation that runs early learning centres in more than 640 locations throughout Australia.

Everything they do is directed towards providing children with great early learning experiences – especially those children who are facing disadvantage, and at risk of being left behind.

Of course, home learning is an important part of making sure that children reach their full potential, which is where Goodstart at Home comes in.

Goodstart at Home offers a collection of play-based learning activities for parents and their children to discover at home. Some of the activities are designed for parents to experience with their children, while others are designed to allow parents to take a backseat while their children explore and learn.

All of the activities have been developed by a team of experts who understand how important play-based learning is in a child’s early years – and, crucially, the activities are available to all Australian families who subscribe to the service, not just to families whose children are already enrolled with Goodstart.

A custom experience

When Zeroseven began working with Goodstart to enhance the Goodstart at Home experience for families, the existing site had been built on a LMS (learning management system) platform out of a desire for an urgent solution at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020...

That’s why our first step was to build a new, completely customised site from the ground up that catered to Goodstart’s requirements. Built on Kentico Xperience 13 the new site allows Goodstart and Zeroseven to tailor every element that a user sees on screen, while also delivering significantly faster load times.

The new site provides a variety of user-friendly features that were not previously available, such as the ability to bookmark activities for later, and to view recently completed activities on their dashboard – so that if a user completes an activity with their three-year-old, for instance, they can easily find it again and complete it with their two-year-old.

Zeroseven used the familiar blue, purple and orange colours in Goodstart’s logo to colour code the activities for different age groups, making them easily identifiable, and utilised hand-drawn illustrations throughout the site to reflect the diversity of the families that use the service.

The activities themselves are laid out simply, and broken into easily digestible sections – ‘What you will do’; ‘Things you will need’; ‘This will help your child’ (explaining the purpose of each activity); ‘Keywords to use’; and ‘Questions to ask’. The time required to complete the activity, and the prep time, are also laid out clearly at the top of each page, to help families plan their day with Goodstart.

Seamless integration

While non-Goodstart families are charged a nominal subscription fee of only $12 per year to assist with ongoing platform costs, access to the site is completely free for current Goodstart families, including families with a child on a waiting list for a Goodstart early learning centre.

To implement this feature, it was necessary to be able to determine whether new subscribers were members of Goodstart families. This was achieved using Microsoft Azure Active Directory B2C.  If a new subscriber’s email address appears in the Goodstart database, they are automatically given free access to Goodstart at Home.

When a user’s child leaves a Goodstart early learning centre, or is taken off a Goodstart waiting list, Kentico’s intuitive automation tools also remove that user’s free access to Goodstart at Home, and sends them a friendly email informing them that they can continue to use the service for the nominal yearly fee.

If a user doesn’t choose to renew their subscription at the end of that year, the subscription will end automatically (as opposed to automatically charging the roll-over fee, as most subscription-based services would).

Growing with Goodstart

Goodstart’s team of experts are constantly coming up with new learning activities, so it’s essential that they’re able to add activities and edit the content on Goodstart at Home as they wish, without needing to rely on a developer.

That’s why Zeroseven didn’t design pages for activities, so to speak – instead, we designed and built a collection of modular widgets, which were used to create those activity pages. Goodstart editors can then select particular layouts for different types of content that order those widgets in specific ways, but they can also move widgets around as they choose to create new layouts, giving them a flexible editing experience.

This enables editors to upload new content without any technical skills, using simple drag-and-drop widgets to populate pages with imagery, video and various types of text.

The site also comes with a variety of straightforward analytics tools. This enables Goodstart to see, for instance, which activities have been popular with which types of users, when activities have been accessed, and how long users have taken to complete activities; information which can assist them to create even more engaging and enriching content.

In addition, Kentico Xperience 13, using the forward-facing ASP.NET Core MVC framework, has allowed an implementation which is scalable, and secure. This has the added benefit of supporting true serverless deployments, removing certain IT risks and costs.

It all adds up to a better Goodstart experience for users – and a better, brighter future for our children.