Beyond 12 Action Board

Brief

Beyond 12's technology platform and coaches provide low-income, first-generation, and historically under-represented students with the support they need to succeed in higher education and in life. When moving into the community college space, Beyond 12 and IDEO approached us to consider their upcoming products, and answer the question: how might Beyond 12 use its digital coaching platform to mobilize community college students to redesign their institutions so they are more accessible, affordable, inclusive, and relevant?

Problem

About two-thirds of students at California’s community colleges and private for-profit two-year schools are from the lowest-income families (PPIC). Mobilizing community college students who are low-income present unique challenges. My team narrowed down the scope of the brief by asking: how might we create an efficient system to prioritize and address low income students' organized efforts for change?

Solution: Action Board

We created the concept of a web and mobile based forum that can connect students with administrators at their community colleges, facilitate support among peers, allow transparency of the bureaucratic process, and reduce the onboarding time student leaders hoping to create change.

Timeframe

8 weeks

My Main Role

User Research, Storytelling

Team

Aaron Guhin (UI Design)

Omzee Pitchford (Video Editing)

Armel Patanian (User Research)

Tools

Figma, Notion

Client

IDEO, Beyond12

The process

Narrowing down the "How Might We..."

From the broad question Beyond12 and IDEO, our team conducted secondary research and used affinity mapping technique to narrow down the area we would like to focus on.

Secondary Research - Summary

Lack of time
Low income students tend to work and have less time for engaging with their schools (source)
Fixing my own problems
Minorities often have the burden of fixing the issues they face. Incorporating efforts from privileged students can relieve the burden. (source)
Collective action
When community leaders work collectively to solve a social problem, they have the potential to make an impact (source)

Framing

After initial research, I facilitated brainstorming sessions where we came up with a more narrow "how might we" question to frame the project.

Interviews

We interviewed students, students leaders, as well as administrators at the college to understand the problem.

Grievances need follow up

Just creating a grievance airing system is not enough. A system to follow up on grievances, and create paths for students to lead or join initiatives to help solve problems in their own communities is crucial.

Persona and Journey Mapping

Based on our interview results, we created a persona, Sammi, and mapped out her journey when creating change at her college.

Survice Ad Prototype

Based on the persona, Aaron created this advertisement as a simple prototype. We created a Typeform survey to gather thoughts from students and staff at Santa Monica College (where my team is enrolled in the Interaction Design Bachelor's program). Their response will inform our service design.

We gathered results from 24 recipients, 5 of them staff or faculty at SMC, and 19 students.

What is the Ad Advertising?
Most recipients (10) understood this is a platform that empowers students to take action or voice ideas. Some (3) thought it is for student-led organizations or Beyond 12. Some (6) thought it advertises an existing group or community for students. A few (2) didn't know what it is for or misunderstood it as an educational program.
Who is this for?
All recipients (24) correctly understood that this service is for students.
Why is this service offered?
Most recipients (11), surprisingly, think it is for students to gain leadership or activist experience and understand how to do so. Some (5) thought learn it is for students to connect. Some, all faculties, (4) thought it gives students voice. Some (4) didn't know why it is offered.

Service Blueprint

Based on research, my team used service blueprint as a tool to map out how this product would work within a current community college system.

I created a simplified version based on the full service blueprint highlighting the screens my team will focus on for our prototype.

Prototype Testing

In this project, I wanted to try out hypothesis based user testing. I worked on creating a prototype that we can test a few key hypotheses with actual students.

Organizing the results from user testing sessions by screen.

Hi Fidelity Prototype

I worked with my teammates to create the final Hi Fidelity Prototype to showcase the Action Board concept to stakeholders.

I worked on storyboards and script writing together with my teammate Omzee. In order to showcase the concept, we started with outlining the main goals of the video, and then going into details to show how Action Board functions in our main character Sammi's life.

Reflection

What worked?

Learning to understand a product's place within a broader context is a useful exercise. The system of community college is complex, but through mapping out service blueprint after in depth interviews, the picture becomes more clear.

I wanted to practice my storytelling skill in this project, and was able to do so with the support of my teammates! It was fun to brainstorm and figure out how exactly to tell a story to show everything we'd like the audience to remember.

Future Considerations

During the timeframe of this project, we were only able to create hi fidelity screens of the student-facing platform. This product could be more fully realized with that crucial part of the system.
Steps for future developments:
1) Test the newest version of the prototype with students
2) Design and test the screens that would be used by staff and administration
3) Interview staff in the Information Systems department about viability
4) Expand research to community colleges other than SMC