Company
Year

2019-2020

Team Members
  • Alex Castellarnau
  • Anum Awan
  • Eliana Alba
  • Madeline Miller
Deliverables
  • Studio Experience Structure
  • Learning Philosophy
  • User Insights
  • Content Themes
  • Finished Learning Experience

A unique learning experience through creative studios for kids in Miami, FL

The work at hand was for a startup opening creative studios for kids in Miami, FL. As the first product hire I worked with them through the ambiguous journey of defining the product from a blank slate.

This undertook user research, sharing of findings and creating student and parent personas, course ideations and iterations to culminate in fully-fledged studio structure and learning experiences to offer.

Phase 1:

Learning Philosophy and Studio Structure

Phase 1 was focused on conducting research through shadowing of kids, as well as interviewing teachers and admins working in different models of learning. We sought to answer the following questions:

  • What principles of learning did we want to stand by, would be most effective for the type of learning we were offering  
  • What structure best served this learning in terms of frequency, length of program, and structure of one lesson?.

Benchmarking and studying of experts was combined with this research to come up with a hypotheses that begun our first round of team ideation and prototyping.

Findings:

      • Our principles were solid and appealing, except for our push for active parenting – in which parents were highly involved and often participated in the courses in some way. We realized this was nice in theory, and not so feasible in practice
      • Our structure – which we had made for 8 weeks seemed to be a short enough length so that learners could rotate through projects without getting bored, but the idea of designing for flexible signing up every 8 weeks was dropped as we discovered the need for a locked in consistency for the entirety of the semester from the parents.
      • For our principle of interdisciplinary learning we learned it was too logistically complicated to have cross-course collaboration and constrained it to being interdisciplinary through content. This means the content would explore them to other concepts and ideas outside of the tools being used.

Phase 2:

User Personas + Content Strategy 

Now that we had a basic skeleton, Phase 2 was about understanding our users at a deeper level to figure out what format and content would keep them engaged throughout the experience.

  • We conducted focus groups with students to assess their interests and build stronger personas.
  • We mapped the decision flow to choosing and signing up to after-school programs and found the parents as key stakeholders and the primary researchers.
  • We tested different formats and themes to come up with a more defined structure for content.

The Learner

Geeky but artistic. Loves Star Wars and playing music. Curious, always asking questions and tinkering. Loves to create things. When 10+ highly socially conscious.

The Parent

Priority #1 is making sure child is learning tools that are futuristic or timeless. They are primary researchers of activities and look for content that relates to themes their children share and enjoy.

Ideation:

With this in mind we came up with a blend between narrative-based and project-based learning using stories, characters and themes tested with users for their appeal to practice a certain craft, tool or technique. This became the blueprint for our courses, some being more tech-heavy or narrative-heavy than others.

Phase 3:

Detail Design + Production

After testing and seeing our core content strategy and structure was positively received Phase 3 became about production and creating a more fully-fledged product through continuous iterations.

Sessions were also broken down to an even more granular level where activities were thought of in 10 minute intervals, and the session was planned minute by minute.

Challenges:

  • Finding the right balance between narrative and project.
  • Balancing requirements from the user with those of the business and ability to scale programs.
  • Timing of activities, and designing for learners working at different speeds.

This phase brought many learnings in balancing stakeholder interests, as well as deeper experience on when to diverge and when to converge while developing a product.

The working strategy was to work in scaffolds, building block by block. I started with the general concept and story, broke down the headline of the sessions and its outline, and then went in to develop each one always integrating feedback loops and reviews in between. Each completed layer added new insights on how to grow the next layer and editing the previous one.

Upon COVID hitting we had to also quickly make sure the content was remote friendly as well!