Between my sophomore and junior years at Olin College I took a year long leave with a group of peers to work on a substantial design and entrepreneurial experience centered around designing for the middle school classroom context. The culmination of the project exists as a startup company called Alight Learning with a software prototype designed to incorporate personalized learning into a visual and novel learning platform.
Visiting the Classroom
Our six person team spent months visiting a range of middle school classrooms, from schools in the Bronx to private, international boarding schools in Massachusetts suburbs. Without this foundation we would have been lost, like designing with blindfolds.
Understanding the Classroom
Visits and interviews with students, teachers, and parents helped us identify needs in the middle school classroom context, but teaching actual students, running a tutoring business, diving into the online teacher community and conference scene enabled us to dive deep into our user’s environments, the designer’s version of method acting.
Design Opportunity Synthesis
After much user immersion, took hundreds of brainstormed team ideas and turned them into a rough product outline with prioritization through user need filtering and other methods.
Guided by an understanding of user needs, we converted raw product ideas into draft product requirement documents, layout sketches, etc. all leading to look and feel mockups of the beta prototype product.
Communicating Design Intent
Developed clear design system breakdown that made communicating design opportunities to business and development teams easy to understand given our team structure and product development needs.