Contributors: Jennifer Tao, Zuer Wang, Daniel Hernandez, Anushka Narvekar
Everything we knew about education has suddenly changed in the face of a global pandemic, and the burden of that change has largely fallen on the parents. Parents, especially parents of young children from kindergarten to middle school, have been forced to support their children’s education via remote learning, often at the expense of their own time. Parents of young children in school no longer have the time and freedom they once had due to assisting their young children in navigating online learning. This has taken a large toll on their personal and professional lives. Whether the parent is monitoring their student directly, or just assisting them with the homework, supervision that once fell to the teachers is now solely in the hands of the parent. For young children the parent must queue up Zoom, navigate websites, submit assignments on behalf of their students in addition to performing their normal roles as parents.
“It takes a village to raise a child”
Currik is an app that works to bring parents of young children within the same school district together during these trying times and beyond. Our vision for Currik is that parents will have the tools better supervise their children’s learning. Supervision means different things for different parents. Our solution gives parents the ability to choose how and what they need to help their children succeed, whether it is finding parents to babysit their children in person or via video call, tracking their students’ assignments, communicating with other parents for support, forming a “learning pod”, or even just finding a playdate.
We connect parents with other parents in the school district, provide them the ability to ask for direct supervision and allow parents to decide what works for them. Currik provides a comprehensive curriculum overview by connecting any student LMS software, and allowing a parent to monitor multiple students. When supervising other children, parents can view a snapshot of what the supervised student is working on allowing the supervising parent help to keep the student on task. Parents will be able to review other parents, creating a peer-to-peer system of trust. To keep students safe, only parents of the school district will be able to join the app and will be readmitted on a yearly basis to ensure only parents of current students are eligible. Our solution will give parents more time to do everything else they need to do while providing a safe and secure system to enable their children to do better both remotely and in-person.
PAPER PROTOTYPE, TESTING PROCESS, RESULTS
Our initial design was for a phone app that allows local parents to schedule times to help each other with supervising their children. The initial paper prototype was tested with a college student and two people that have been involved in the education system of young children. Users loved the idea of scheduling times for parents to help other parents supervise their children. They felt that this would help reduce the burden parents have of trying to monitor their children when they’re unable to do so themselves (e.g. if they have to run an errand or be out of the house).
Pictures above are images of our initial paper prototype. We made a few revisions based on our usability testing. First, multiple participants noticed that the home page is hard to understand. A first time user wouldn’t know what to click and what functionalities to expect. It was also confusing to see buttons are arranged differently on different pages. Below is our final paper mockup, some salient revisions were adding a help button for each interface that might cause any confusion, and rearranging the navigation buttons to make the user experience more consistent.
After receiving feedback for the final paper mockup, we identified a few main concerns with our design. First of all, since our design heavily involves children, we needed to make sure that our app community would remain safe by only allowing authorized users onto our platform. We improved on our design by adding a process to register and authenticate users through student emails (issued by their educational institution) or SSO which is directly tied to their institution. Parents will need to regain access every school year as an additional safety measure. This would allow us to validate users and maintain a safer and secure environment for authorized students and parents. In addition to strictly limiting access to the community, we also incorporated feedback regarding building trust between users. For parents to be able to use our app with confidence, they need to know that the parent that will supervise their child is trustworthy. We chose to incorporate a rating system where parents can rate each other on the quality of supervision they receive. If a supervising parent provides inadequate supervision, if they bail on supervising, or there are safety concerns, users can refer to their rating and be more informed as a result.
Final digital mockup：
The main tasks we are addressing with our digital mockup is to:
- Allowing parents to coordinate the supervision of their children
- Tracking and managing children’s assignments and schedules efficiently for both parents and supervising parents.
Our design supports the first task by providing a feature for users to schedule another parent to supervise their children while they are unable to do so, and alternatively, volunteer to supervise the children of other parents on the app. Our design supports the second task by providing a calendar feature that allows parents to easily view all of their children’s assignment due dates and events.
Additionally, parents can onboard multiple children and multiple learning management systems (e.g. Blackboard, Google Classroom, Canvas etc.) used by each child. This allows parents to be able to view all assignments and schedules within our app instead of having to switch between different accounts. This easy-to-view curriculum allows for supervising parents to receive a “snapshot” of the work the student needs to complete, so if a parent finds a supervisor, that supervisor knows exactly what the child should be working on for that day. By designing around these two tasks we make supervision of learning simple for the parent and seamless for the student.
Asides from the security concerns addressed above, we also implemented the following changes in our final digital mockup:
- Removed features unrelated to main tasks, such as being able to chat with teachers or comment on assignments
- Added a section on home page to display the learning plan of other children within the scheduled time
- On a parent’s profile, display what grades their kids are in. This allows for parents to better select the parent they want to help their students
- Connected two tasks: display schedule created from task 2 to make the time selection process easier for task 1; display the snapshot of the learning plan about the upcoming appointment to make the supervision more efficient.
- Highlighted that this app is specifically for the parents of Bonney Lake School District
- Chose a lighter color palette to make the user experience less overwhelming/taxing on the eyes
Parents of young children have stepped up to be more involved in their students’ education than ever before. We interviewed and surveyed over 20 parents mostly from the Bonney Lake School district who all agreed that they have significantly less time to do anything else but help their children with remote learning. Currik is the tool that will help parents manage their involvement in their students’ education that will help them find the time that they lost. By bringing together all parents of the school district we can bring the village together to assist each other, and by giving the parent a single platform to monitor their students’ curriculum and assignments we save them valuable time. We are not promising a single solution for the many problems that exist with remote learning, but we are giving parents the tools to build perfect solutions that fits their needs.