Web App to Help at Risk Teenagers Coping Strategies

 

The Challenge

Startup Weekend Education began with open-mic 60-second pitches Friday night that resulted in the formation of small teams around the best, most viable concepts. Teams spent Saturday and Sunday focusing on validating their idea by talking to users, designing/building prototypes and building a business plan with the help of experienced coaches from the education market. On Sunday, teams presented and demo their education products and receive valuable feedback from a panel of expert judges. 

The chosen pitch:

-Problem: Stress and exposure to violence impact learning, decision making, and students’ emotional responses.

-Solution: Create a platform that teaches at risk teenagers coping strategies, resilience, and mindfulness, and it gives teachers critical information about how to best support their students.

Duration: 54 hours (Nov 2015)

Group size: 6 (2 developers, 2 educators, 1 business woman and 1 UX designer)

My Role: Created personas, Storyboards, and Wireframes.

Tools: Sketch

Classification: First place

Summary

Desired Outcomes:

  • Validate the idea through user research (surveys, interviews, personas and scenarios).
  • Business plan using the business canvas model.
  • Creating wireframes and a prototype based on the previous research and test them on users.

Process:

  • Created surveys and interviewed people to validate that people would benefit from the product.
  • Created personas and scenarios to have a better sense of who would benefit from this product and make it more personal.
  • Created wireframes based in design decisions taken as a group.

Insights- Decisions:

  • As we validated the idea through surveys and interviews, we decided to proceed with the original idea and not change it.
  • We decided as a team that the developers would start with the teacher's view of the product as it was very simple and didn't require many design decisions.

Results:

  • Collaboration, creativity and passion for the idea, contributed to winning the hackathon.
  • We delivered wireframes because we didn't have enough time to create a working prototype.
  • As we didn't have time for testing the wireframes, user testing along iteration and developing the platform are included in the next steps of the process.

Lessons learned:

  • Working in such a short period of time, you really need to be collaborative and flexible with the team, and rely on each others strengths.
  • Every aspect of the process is important to validate a new idea. Business plan was very important to determine the value of the idea. 
  • An idea can get very far in a short period of time with the right team.

Detailed Case Study

SURVEYS & INTERVIEWS

We created surveys and interviewed people to validate the idea that people in the education sector will benefit from this product.

We distributed two kinds of surveys. One for students and one for teachers:

-Students: We wanted to validate the hypothesis that feelings affect students' learning abilities.

-Teachers: We wanted to validate the hypothesis that if teachers had daily data about students' current emotions it would impact their teaching and the way they implement their lessons.

We surveyed 27 students and 23 teachers and both hypothesis were validated.

Students:

Teachers:

BUSINESS PLAN

We analysed if the product would be viable business wise through the business model canvas:

PERSONAS & EMPATHY MAPS

We created personas and empathy maps to get a better sense of who would benefit from this product:

 

STORY BOARD- DEFINING THE PROBLEM

We created a storyboard to show an example of a day in Darin's life and how circumstances affect his ability to concentrate in class and learn.

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  1.  In the morning, Darin, walks his little sister to school. To get there they walk past the police tape of last night’s murder.
  2.  When he arrives at school, another student makes a crack about his older brother serving a 10-year sentence.
  3.  Five minutes later he walks into the classroom and the teacher is demanding 100% on task on the Biology Do Now. Of the 30 kids his head is down, he’s not working and the teacher redirects him to which he reacts “this doesn’t fucking matter.”
  4.  Detention. Through no one’s malicious intention, Darin has entered a downward spiral and is effectively checked out for the period and possibly the day. Darin is more likely to fall behind, be suspended, be one of the 19% of students who doesn’t graduate high school.

DESIGN DECISIONS

We took some of the design decisions as a group. We categorised the emotion words that the students choose into 4 main groups, which we map to best practice interventions pulled from research-backed resources and functional behaviour analyses. The list of feelings came from the survey to students.

 

WIREFRAMES

As we only had a weekend to do some user research and come up with a design solution, we designed simple wireframes that help the students concentrate with no distractions.

Darin's view:

  Home Page- Darin logs   in to the web app and gets   his lesson for the day.

Home Page- Darin logs in to the web app and gets his lesson for the day.

  He   first   gets a guided mindfulness activity that helps   him focus on the present moment and develop   coping strategies.     Mindfulness   has been shown to increase sustained attention, emotional regulation, and problem-solving skills – non-cognitive skills that are better predictors of academic success than IQ.    Mindfulness programs in schools have also improved attendance, and decreased behavioral incidents and suspension rates.

He first gets a guided mindfulness activity that helps him focus on the present moment and develop coping strategies. Mindfulness has been shown to increase sustained attention, emotional regulation, and problem-solving skills – non-cognitive skills that are better predictors of academic success than IQ.

Mindfulness programs in schools have also improved attendance, and decreased behavioral incidents and suspension rates.

Depending on the day, Darin then gets either a journaling activity, or a brief, interactive learning tidbit about the brain+body system to increase the relevance of the mindfulness strategies he’s learning.

 
  Finally, Darin ends each activity with a quick emotion check in.   We have built a prototype this weekend of this functionality.   These words come from the survey of 20   students who told us the emotions they often feel in school that they wish their teachers knew, so that they could feel better supported  .    This is not only is a part of Darin’s emotional learning, but the   teacher then also gets a real-time, at a glance view of her students’ emotional state.

Finally, Darin ends each activity with a quick emotion check in. We have built a prototype this weekend of this functionality. These words come from the survey of 20 students who told us the emotions they often feel in school that they wish their teachers knew, so that they could feel better supported.

This is not only is a part of Darin’s emotional learning, but the teacher then also gets a real-time, at a glance view of her students’ emotional state.

 

Beth's view:

Beth sees a dashboard of her students emotional response. There are 4 colours for the 4 different groups of words previously categorised. Now, Beth knows Darin is feeling unusually upset and reframes her approach to check in 1 on 1.

The whole solution enables teachers to integrate mindfulness and social-emotional development into their classroom with no additional prep time, and without school’s requiring external mindfulness instructors.

CONCLUSION

As my first and only experience in a hackathon it was very intense, but enriching. We had a very balanced group and worked very well together. There was not much time to make decisions so we all rely on each others abilities. We sometimes worked together and sometimes individually. Being able to develop the idea as a group was what helped us succeed and win 1st place.

The next steps that we are working on are:

  1. Get funding
  2. User testing on wireframes and final prototype
  3. Iterate on previous design
  4. Develop the platform and test it in schools