Transforming learning with Wharton Interactive

The launch of an ecosystem for learners and educators with innovative tools and platforms, significantly impacting global education delivery

Wharton Interactive

3 mins read


Philadelphia Phillies baseball team mural

The results

The challenge

Wharton Interactive, a start-up nestled within the prestigious Wharton School, of the University of Pennsylvania, is on a mission to transform education.

Having proven that immersive learning experiences - such as simulations, games and collaborative challenges - yield better learning outcomes than traditional passive techniques, Wharton has set out to bring active learning to the world through a new marketplace and learning ecosystem.

Importantly, Wharton Interactive’s audience is wider than the University of Pennsylvania; it’s anyone who wants to learn from or teach with Wharton’s state of the art interactive pedagogy.

Our approach

Passing go

Already big fans of Wagtail, Wharton Interactive chose Torchbox as their technology partners in Fall 2019 and we set off on a journey to help them realize their mission. We started in Pennsylvania with a round of rapid discovery: establishing the vision, modelling their customers and collaboratively designing the makings of their MVP through intensely fun, coffee- and donut-fuelled co-creation workshops.

We homed in on a fresh, playful brand for Wharton Interactive and quickly brought this to fruition with the launch of the first iteration of their new website on Wagtail a few months later. This provided a strong foundation to build on and gave Wharton Interactive the means to start growing their global presence, share pedagogical successes - and most importantly, drive sign-ups from potential early adopters.

That was the easy bit…

The game’s on

Now things started to get interesting! First and foremost, Wharton Interactive wanted to create a rich learning ecosystem, with two distinct paths to engage learner audiences: one for individual learners interested in upskilling on their own and another for instructors to create private classes to lead their own learners through interactive experiences.

Individual learners can sign up for an Alternate Reality Course (an entire class in a game) and receive the tips and tricks they need to be successful in achieving their learning goals. For instructors, the platform provides the pedagogical tools and support to teach students in a more meaningful way (from university/college students to corporate learners).

To achieve these goals we architected an ‘engagement layer’ - a user experience including learner and educator dashboards which interface with Wharton’s suite of cutting-edge learning platforms. From the engagement layer, learners can dive into active games, broaden their skills through videos, articles and presentations, track their achievements, and download earned certificates.

Educators can create their own private virtual classes, receive detailed teaching notes and just-in-time resources to set up and manage games and simulations for their student cohorts, who in turn enrol and interact with the classes shaped by their instructors.

The marketplace’s eCommerce and account elements were tackled through a series of integrations. We used Auth0 SSO for account creation, which enables learners and instructors to move seamlessly between the engagement layer and Wharton’s other platforms. The rapidly growing product catalog is powered by Salesforce Commerce Cloud, which was developed by OSF, and all payments are made securely through a Cybersource checkout.

Wharton Interactive website screenshots

The Wharton Interactive learning ecosystem

Each and every expert on the Torchbox team knocked this project out of the park

Sarah Toms Executive director and co-founder, Wharton Interactive

The outcome

We have a winner!

Wharton Interactive’s learner experience marketplace and engagement layer launched late last year, followed shortly after by the instructor experience marketplace in January.

Wharton is now on the verge of launching three highly immersive games on their trailblazing Alternate Reality Courseware platform, which will be available through the marketplace in the next few weeks. Torchbox’s Digital Marketing team have crafted a campaign to reach early adopters for these experiences and we’re eagerly awaiting the first wave of learners.

Meanwhile, instructors are starting to sign up to use the experiences in their classrooms and there are currently a number of early adopter classes underway, which will be invaluable in refining the end-to-end Wharton Interactive experience ready for the new School/University year in Fall 2021.

With unprecedented pace of change in the delivery of higher education over the past year, there has never been such an important time for Wharton Interactive - and we’re delighted to be collaborating on this transformational journey.

It is pretty much unheard of that a project with this level of complexity could be pulled off in exactly 8 months, but it was—flawlessly—and all because we are partnered with Torchbox!

Sarah Toms Executive director and co-founder, Wharton Interactive

The results (are still rolling in)

As with every new product launch, the early stages are focussed on building awareness, acquisition and activation. But early signs are promising, with account sign ups on the rise and the first customers crossing the marketplace.


Katy Cherry

Director of Product Design & Build