Ever since the pandemic, we’ve found ourselves isolated and disconnected from each other and the outside world. Moreover, students have faced issues with their learning due to the forced transition to online modes of education that have caused gaps in their education and severe learning loss.
This could have a lasting impact that could carry on into their adult lives!
With schools reopening, students now find it harder to cope with studies due to severe learning loss and have to relearn most of what they studied in previous grades setting them back massively. The traditional learning environments and aids used are ineffective in helping them tackle their learning loss.
So how do they cope with this and relearn what they lost?
Humans are highly visual creatures that learn better through visual aids and experiences. Understanding the importance of visual and kinesthetic cues in user interactions, I believe that it is a deciding factor for the user when it comes to continued interaction.
As a student, when I had access to technology to learn, I was always put off by the non-appealing, slow and complicated interfaces that those devices had, which used to discourage me from using technology to aid my learning.
But, if the experience could be tweaked to a certain extent to incorporate the needs of the students while keeping personalization and usability in mind, it could become a very effective tool to aid learning.
I, therefore, want to work on this to provide solutions that could help modernize classrooms and promote a hybrid learning environment that can personalize learning which is the need of the hour for the students of this generation.
To design an experience that will increase the learning outcomes and velocity while reducing the learning loss faced by students. Integrating technology into the education system would enable a high degree of personalization and autonomy over the learning process, provide continuous assessment and support to the users and ultimately ensure mastery of the content.
KEY LINES OF INQUIRY
- What is the effect of the pandemic on the education system, and has it opened doors for possible interventions?
- Does the current education system need to be updated to incorporate the needs of the current era?
- Can modern learning aids increase learning outcomes?
- Can a hybrid learning environment integrated with Intelligent adaptive technologies reduce learning loss?
- Should students and teachers own agency over their learning and teaching?
PROBLEMS WITH THE CURRENT EDUCATION SYSTEM
The biggest problem with a standardized education system is that it can’t factor in the differences in learning styles, pace, and the tools and resources needed to learn. So if a student can’t meet the system’s expectations, they are labeled as a failure when all they needed was a personalized learning path that suits their learning style.
And in an increasingly automated world that values uniqueness over standardized knowledge, how students learn can have an impact on the value they bring.
LEARNING LOSS DURING THE PANDEMIC
Includes the loss of foundational abilities like reading with understanding, the ability to write, and basic mathematics, which they had learned earlier and become proficient in, which are the basis of further learning.
Forgetting these foundational abilities can impact not only the learning of more complex abilities but also conceptual understanding across subjects which can manifest into the inability to acquire more complex abilities, disconnecting from learning, peers, and schooling, often causing children to drop out of school altogether.
‘Learning losses from COVID-19 could cost this generation of students close to $17 trillion in lifetime earnings.’
BLENDED LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
The need for blended learning environments comes from the fact that day by day, the world is becoming increasingly automated, and technology is becoming an integral part of our lives.
As most students are tech-savvy, implementing technology into the education system and using it to aid education can provide a highly personalized and engaging learning experience that can democratize learning.
And as classrooms get broader, blended learning integrated with intelligent adaptive technology can ease the load on teachers and increase learning velocity and outcomes, which can help students who are behind.
Personalized learning paths allow learners to work on different skills at different paces. It doesn’t necessarily mean that students fall behind in other areas. Teachers need to ensure that learning paths match academic standards and monitor progress to see if students are demonstrating the expected skills as they progress.
Here teachers are viewed more as collaborators and facilitators of learning, and the learners are given more agency over their learning process. Research has also shown that personalization of learning can hugely increase learning outcomes and increase learning velocity.
While teachers previously found this process a little overwhelming and time- consuming in the past, technology can now enable personalization and play a huge part in facilitating and implementing personalized learning, and can help learners address their problems and needs.
INTELLIGENT ADAPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES
They are modern learning aids that can help facilitate a personalized learning experience where students can architect their learning paths to achieve mastery.
Using IATs, teachers can collect and analyze student learning data and identify the gaps and weaknesses in the students learning. They also showcase a panoramic view of the whole class, surfacing common strengths and weaknesses in real-time reports.
‘Challenge-based gamification in e-learning can improve educational outcomes by as much as 89.45%.’
Mastery learning suggests that the focus of instruction should be the time required for different students to learn the same material and achieve the same level of mastery.
Very much in contrast with classic models of teaching, which focus more on differences in students’ ability and where all students are given approximately the same amount of time to learn and the same set of instructions.
In mastery learning, there is a shift in responsibilities so that a student’s failure is more due to the instruction and not necessarily a lack of ability on his or her part. Therefore, in a mastery learning environment, the challenge becomes providing enough time and employing instructional strategies so that all students can achieve the same level of learning.
To further increase my understanding on the subject I conducted separate interviews with potential stakeholders (students, teachers, parents & experts) by creating personalised questionnaires for them.
QUESTIONNAIRE FOR STAKEHOLDERS
- What type of school do you study/teach?
- What are the modes of Learning/ teaching used?
- Is technology being used to aid learning/teaching?
- Do you own agency in your Learning/teaching?
- What was the mode of Education used during the pandemic?
- Did you experience any learning loss during the pandemic?
- Are you familiar with a hybrid learning environment?
- Have you used Intelligent Adaptive technology as a Learning aid?
- Does your school cater to your personal learning needs and help you work on your strengths and weaknesses?
- Does your school prioritize rote learning and memorization over authentic learning?
IDEATION & CREATION
MARKET ANALYSIS, BENCHMARKING & INSPIRATION
I think it’s imperative to look at previous and current trends to understand the market and the scope for improvement and analyze the opportunity gaps that can be capitalized on. I, therefore, conducted secondary research into existing ‘Edutech’ and intelligent adaptive technology platforms.
- Adapts to each learner
- Personalized instruction from intervention through enrichment
- Develops skills and closes gaps
- Integrates assessment with instruction
- Offer practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside the classroom.
- Offers mastery learning experience
CREATING A USER PERSONA
To aid my ideation process I created personas for the main stakeholders of the platform:
To further aid my ideation process I created a story board where the stakeholders are interacting and communicating with and through the platform, which gave me clarity on the process and execution of the platform.
IDEATION & CREATION
HIGH-FIDELITY MOCK-UPS & KEY SCENARIOS
I created high-fidelity mock-ups and designed three key scenarios that the platform would fulfill to showcase what the platform should do and how the users could complete tasks there.
1. Users can access resources, personalized resources, and leave comments where teachers can also create resources and share.
2. Users have access to mastery learning content and adaptive learning tools which will ensure increased learning outcomes and mastery of topics. These tools can also be assigned by the teacher where users can check their learning progress and stats.
3. Users can have a holistic classroom experience where they can interact, communicate and collaborate with other users, learn together, share insights and help users in need.
IDEATION & CREATION
After creating the mock-ups, I decided to have a carefully set style guide that would enhance the user’s experience based on curated research on the field.
- Blue is considered to be the most desirable color for learning. Color psychology shows that this color promotes memory and enhances creativity. Certain hues of blue can have a calming effect.
- Green, like its close counterpart blue, can promote mental health by providing students with stress relief and having a positive effect on concentration. Certain hues of green paired with other earth tones and organic accents provide a very calm learning environment.
- Blue, Gray, and Green are classroom color schemes that you cannot go wrong with.
- Warmer hues of white, such as off-white colors paired with other earth tones, have a calming effect on students and promote clear thought within schools and the classroom.
IDEATION & CREATION
Before prototyping I had to validate my progress with stakeholders and I chose students of class 12 to do so.
Points of interest:
- They find using different apps for learning confusing, frustrating, and time-consuming.
- They haven’t learned using adaptive learning aids with ‘mastery content’
- They prefer one platform for all their learning needs
- They want personalized learning paths
- Find online evaluations difficult and would prefer proper evaluation
DESCRIBING THE UI
- This section shows the user all the courses the user has enrolled in.
- The user can also see the course material like chapters and lessons.
- In every chapter, the user has access to various lessons and quizzes that are part of the mastery framework.
- The user can leave comments under each lesson if they have any doubts or information to share.
- This section shows the user all the personalized resources sent to them by their teachers.
- These resources are unique for each user and highlight a personalized learning experience for the user.
- The user can view the type of resource, title, date received, and sender.
III. MASTERY LEARNING
- This section shows the user all the mastery content/quizzes available.
- Which uses intelligent adaptive technology to personalize the learning path and assessment of the user.
- The user can go to the next lesson only if the user achieves a certain level of mastery of the previous lesson.
- After completing each lesson the user is assessed through quizzes and tests that ensure mastery of the topic when finished.
- This section allows the user to connect with other users to have discussions.
- Users can see the number of participants, send messages, and have assessments on call.
- Users can schedule meetings to clarify doubts etc.
- This add to the classroom experience as students of alternative education systems have limited exposure to peers and teachers.
V. CHATS & TEACHERS
- Here users can send and receive messages from other users which is a bonus as it helps users communicate regardless of location.
- Users can also see the teachers assigned to them and can select from a list of educators.
- Here users can track their progress and performance throughout the academic year.
- Students and teachers can get an in-depth analysis of the user’s performance and use it to make any necessary changes if required.
- Users can view mastery progress and user goals can be set.
- Students can access the stats for each subject to see their performance.
DESIGNING THE UX
I designed and prototyped the whole platform on Adobe XD
I conducted a round of user testing with a user group of 5 school students all currently studying during the pandemic.
USER GROUP SPECIFICS
- Age: 16-18
- Education Board: CBSE & NIOS
- No prior experience with personalised digital learning aids
- Problems with click-ability
- Increase font size & darken font color
- Arrange menu items in order of importance
- Make chapter cards more descriptive
I. PROBLEMS WITH CLICK-ABILITY
To counter this, I changed the text and the surrounding area into a button that enables an increased clickable area.
II. INCREASE FONT SIZE & DARKEN FONT COLOR
The initial font size I used was 16 px, so I increased it to 18 px to increase visibility and darkened the font color slightly while still keeping it grey.
III. ARRANGE MENU ITEMS IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE
I arranged my menu items in order of importance so that users could easily access their main flows on the platform.
IV. MAKE CHAPTER CARDS MORE DESCRIPTIVE
I added the lessons included in every chapter so that the user can navigate to a lesson with ease without knowing the contents of each chapter.
Learning and education have the chance to provide and mean so much more than before, where students could create an impact and difference in the world with their original ideas.
It no longer has to be only the creatives, specialists, and entrepreneurial class that makes all the decisions, while the bureaucracy and working-class execute and process information. Now for the first time in history, we have the opportunity to be a part of the creative, specialist, and entrepreneurial class because of technology.
Technology can change the way students learn and apply themselves in the real world. It can personalize learning to the extent that students can own the agency of their learning, and create individualized learning paths to acquire the skills required to thrive in this ever-changing world.
Through this, everyone can become a master or a specialist in a subject or topic. By incorporating hybrid learning environments along with intelligent adaptive technologies, teachers can help their students increase their learning velocity, and student-teacher engagement, reduce learning loss, and most importantly, increase learning outcomes to reach mastery.