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Bellwether Education Partners

Improving education transitions.

Bellwether is a non-profit focused on designing solutions for students challenged by homelessness, incarceration, teen pregnancy or health issues. We partnered with Bellwether to research, design and technically scope a data tool aimed at improving education transitions for vulnerable students. The final deliverable formed part of a published paper.

Client

Bellwether Education Partners

Timeframe

3 months

What we did

Outcomes:

A body of research from stakeholder interviews and facilitation of a day-long workshop for subject matter experts. Findings synthesized into actionable insights.

Key moment wireframes for a suitable and feasible data tool that addresses Bellwether’s challenge.

A collection of assets (including design principles, personas, key moment wireframes, technical and project considerations) for Bellwether to use in a published paper targeted at state and district Chief Information Officers.

How we did it

Discovery

We began by interviewing stakeholders, subject matter experts and students to better understand the problem space and the participants’ backgrounds.

The discovery phase culminated with the facilitation of a day-long workshop. This workshop allowed participants to weigh in on potential pitfalls and solutions. It also provided participants with a networking opportunity. Insights gleaned from this exploration provided inputs for the iteration phase.

Iteration

Following the workshop we spent 3 weeks designing, iterating, and validating potential solutions that addressed the problem space.

We created wireframes, vignettes, and process diagrams to help visualize how a tool might improve educational transitions. We also explored how an educational jurisdiction might go through the process of starting a pilot program to test such a tool.

We leveraged the engineering experience of the Lab Zero team to illustrate the architecture and systems needed for a tool to be successful.  

Delivery

The final delivery pulled together our insights and client feedback in to a collection of assets. The assets told the solution story through the eyes of two personas, and included guidance on implementation.

What we learned

To prepare for the workshop we evaluated a variety of facilitation techniques. We pulled inspiration from the Google Sprint method, our Product Design Toolkit, and others sources. We also conducted interviews to get familiar with the participants' areas of expertise.

The workshop participants were a diverse group of subject matter experts in the fields of Education and Data Analysis. To address their different backgrounds and levels of experience, we included an introduction to provide participants with the same foundational knowledge. We tailored our approach to create an environment where participants would feel comfortable and confident sharing their knowledge and ideas.

This project served as a good reminder that software isn’t always the solution to client problems. While a tool would provide value to students and their support system, process changes would be critical to improving educational transitions. During our iteration phase, we illustrated process changes as well as product ideas.

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