NARA’s DocsTeach

Apr 25, 2012

Mobile Gov Experiences are agency stories about creating anytime, anywhere, any device government services and info. This entry is a story shared by National Archives and Records Administration.

DocsTeach is a mobile application developed by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) that allows teachers to create and share lesson plans built on the DocsTeach website with their students. The DocsTeach App was created so students could access teacher lessons.

Why We Did It

The DocsTeach website has been in existence for two years. The site allows teachers to build and upload lesson plans based on historical documents provided by NARA. While engaging about the site with teachers at conferences, the DocsTeach program managers received teacher requests for a mobile version of the site that could be used with students. The mobile need for teachers was driven by schools providing iPads as learning tools for students.

What We Did

NARA set out to create a student version of DocsTeach so the classroom audience could be served. To build the app, NARA partnered with the Foundation for the National Archives and the studio that helped create the DocsTeach website; it was developed with Adobe Air because it was the most cost effective option.

How It Worked

The DocsTeach App does not have all the functionality of the website. Teachers can create a set of activities on the website and “fast track” them to students by sharing a specific code to use in the app on their iPads. Teachers can also do this online only by creating customized “classrooms” that students can access through a classroom’s unique URL.

What We Learned

The app launched in April 2012.

  • Naming the app the same as the website helped with branding and recognition.
  • NARA found that developing on Adobe Air helped save costs.

What’s Next

NARA will look to expand functionality and access for other tablet platforms. They are exploring HTML5 for this goal.


Stephanie Greenhut | Stephanie (dot) Greenhut (at) nara (dot) gov

Apr 25, 2012