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  • Writer's pictureSamuel Huang

Real Life Real Learning

Updated: Jan 15, 2019

This is the PDF: Design Sprint Presentation


As more things seem to be vying for attention nowadays it seems difficult to be able to gain and maintain the interest of students, especially for teachers in a classroom setting. Given the issue of student disengagement in classes, Design Frontiers: Education is a day-long design sprint uses human-centered design to ideate and prototype a potential solution that would increase student engagement in class.


As we look at our first problem, we wanted to fully empathize with high school students as well as the teachers. We wanted to internalize a deeper understanding of why and how students learn in their classrooms rather than attributing blame to the typical culprits. Initially, we wanted to merely blame the student's disengagement on their cultural habits and a change in the attitude towards education and blame the teachers' inability to inspire and activate student interest. However, these reasons are merely a generalization and escape not isolating the real issue. As we thought deeper into student disengagement, we thought realized that the issues lie in the relevance of the learning material.


From the wide-ranging research, we were able to find common trends and eventually represent our user in a single persona. We understood that this would allow us to greater empathize with our user.

Everyone hates a certain class from school and for Suzzy it is Chemistry.

Suzzy is a bright-eyed sophomore currently attending Lincoln High School. Suzzy loves English and history but hates Math with a passion. As she reads the novels for her English class she is able to visualize exactly what is happening. It even seems real. As she learns about the significant historical events and figures, she begins to understand the implications of current events and the certain landmarks around her home. As she learns Math, nothing happens for her. It's dead. There is no excitement or imagine from Math. She isn't able to see the effects of Math in her daily life.

We defined the root cause of Suzzy's disengagement to be the lack of relevance that Chemistry had to her life. Although there certainly are aspects of daily life that either uses Math or can be explained by concepts taught in Math, Suzzy was not aware of these things so her engagement continually reduced.

How might we...

- How might we reduce the distance between teaching content and real-life situations for high school students?


Ideas starting to flow out!!!

Based on the "how might we" question, we diverged into a multitude of different possible solutions. Ideas ranged from physical learning devices to digital teaching mediums. During this time, we made sure to defer judgment and allow all ideas regardless of plausibility. We sketched each of our ideas and placed them on a post-it and place it on the wall.

Afterward, we organized the ideas into a few main categories. We found out that we had supplemental experiences (games, videos, etc.), new teaching platforms (online courses), and community platforms (forums).

We understood that we would have to converge towards one of these options. We took a conscious effort to recall Suzzy and think what would help her the most. Each member of the team voted and we eventually decided that supplemental aids would address the issue of disengagement the best for high school students such as Suzzy.

From this, we started to analyze the multiple ideas that we had. How can we account for our initial biases to find the best solution for Suzzy given the constraints? We finally converged into one central idea which was a combination of a few ideas. Since our goal was to reduce the distance between school content and daily/ new discoveries, what if we put them together side by side.


Although we converged on the solution of placing school material directly beside current events or current studies, we were not sure what type of medium we would use to implement our idea.

After weighing the different options we realized that since the use of modern technology in school has grown consistently, we should create a tool that compliments instructional material Google Chrome.

We began our rapid prototyping phase in which we diverged and each sketched our idea of the interface. Afterward, we quickly presented each of our ideas informing each other of how and why we had organized our UI. We then went into a discussion and eventually converged on a UI.

We then went through two more iterations of the potential UI until we finalized it.

Our final prototype was a Google extension that would provide relevant videos and articles based on the content of the article or video being currently consumed. In this case, while learning the concepts, the student would also have access to current events or programs that are relevant to whatever they are learning about.

For Suzzy, this means that while she is learning about trigonometric functions, from just one click, she is able to see how the content she is learning about would relate to current news events as well as academic projects.


Under the confines of a Design Sprint, we were not able to fully test out our low fidelity prototype. The next step to test out our prototype and use feedback from those tests to continually iterate until we have something that we think is exceptional in addressing student engagement.

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