Homemade Genius

Learning Resource Sharing Platform for Homeschoolers.

Group of 5| Sep. 2017 - Jan. 2018, Sep. 2018 - Oct. 2018

Solo Redesign & Hi-fi Design 

See presentation

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Project Overview

Homeschooling

Homeschooling, also known as home education, is the education of children at home, usually conducted by a parent or tutor. The community we focused on is the homeschoolers in the United States, targeting at parents of the homeschool children.

2.3M Homeschoolers

As of 2016, there were about 2.3 million homeschoolers in the United States. Parents choose to homeschool their kids for different reasons, such as dissatisfaction with public schools, academic and pedagogical concerns, religious values, and family needs. Homeschoolers tend to tailor the curriculum based on the kids’ own interests, which is one of the biggest characteristics of homeschooling.

The Problems
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#1 Constrained within the local community

Community plays an important role for homeschool families, in which homeschool parents can share resources and suggestions with each other. But the current offline homeschool community is constrained by the physical geographical boundary.
 

#2 Overwhelmed by too many learning resources

It’s not easy and time-consuming for homeschoolers to locate the most suitable ones that fit the kids’ specific interests/needs.

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#3 Hard to find kids share similar interests

The current way for homeschoolers to find kids that share similar interests is not efficient, constrained in local community.

The Solutions

Carrying with the key concerns and issues for the homeschool community, we proposed and designed Homemade Genius, a web app that aims to provide a better homeschooling experience.

Specifically, it helps homeschoolers easily find learning resources that best fit through the online community, plan and share their own courses with others, and keep a detailed record of the learning processes.

 

Understanding Homeschool Community

Contextual Inquiry

Based on our secondary research on the homeschooling community, we came up with three potential problems: socializing skills, education quality, and safety. Carrying these ideas, we conducted several interviews with homeschool families, aiming to verify our ideas and to find any potential pain points for homeschoolers.

By sending out emails to students and faculties at the University of Michigan’s School of Information, reaching out to homeschool groups on Facebook, and walking into the local homeschool community, we were able to interview a total of eight individuals from four different states, in which seven of them are homeschool parents and one is a former homeschooler.

Affinity Wall

Based on our secondary research on the homeschooling community, we came up with three potential problems: socializing skills, education quality, and safety. Carrying these ideas, we conducted several interviews with homeschool families, aiming to verify our ideas and to find any potential pain points for homeschoolers.

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Survey & Focus Group

After we came up with our first-round feature ideation as well as 1.0 prototype design, in order to understand some problems that we were not sure about (e.g., their current practice of building a course for kids), confirm our design assumptions (e.g., do they wanna get more information about selecting resources or building a course?) and do the concept testing for our 1.0 prototype, we sent out 130 surveys and conducted a 5 people focus group.

After completing each interview, our team went over key findings that were revealed during interviews as a group, using notes and recordings as points of discussion. Individual pieces of data, those that captured single facts about homeschooling education, were recorded as discrete affinity notes and then incorporated into an integrated affinity wall.

Three Key Problems of Homeschoolers

Research Findings
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#1 Community

Homeschool families rely heavily on local communities to exchange ideas and learn from other peoples' homeschooling experience. But the geographical boundary of offline community limits their experience.

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#2 Learning Resources

Homeschoolers are overwhelmed with too many resources. It's time-consuming to find out the most suitable ones for their kids. The reviews from other homeschool parents are also important to them.

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#3 Finding Peers

Constrained by the physical boundary, it is hard for homeschooling kids to find peers share similar interests with them and study together.

Other findings of our target audience...

  • Homeschool parents tend to homeschool all their kids (usually >=2).

  • Many homeschool kids have special health conditions (e.g., ADHD, Autism) (~50% from survey result)

  • Homeschool parents don't usually have a rigid course plan, they revise the content on the go

 

 

Synthesis & Ideation

Personas
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Primary Persona 1

New Homeschool Parent

Primary Persona 2

Experienced Homeschool Parent

Secondary Persona

High-school Homeschooler

Brainstorming

After discovering user pain points, we brainstormed several ideas to solve each of them. Some ideas were proved not feasible in the later design process, and some were refined and implemented in the end.

Solutions

Carrying with the key concerns and issues for the homeschool community, we proposed and designed Homemade Genius, a web app that aims to provide a better homeschooling experience. Specifically, it helps homeschoolers easily find learning resources that best fit, plan and share their own courses with others in the community, and keep a detailed record of the learning processes.

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Design Process & User Testing

Professional Feedback
  • UMSI Design ExpoSItion
  • 18' CHI Student Design Competition
Concept Testing
  • 130 Survey Responses
  • Talk & test with local homeschoolers
Design V.01
Design V.02
Final Design
Design Competitions Feedback

We participated in CHI - Student Design Competition as well as the ExpoSItion design competition in the year 2018. With our concept and design prototype, we received very positive feedback from information professionals. They also proposed some improvements we should consider.

  • Privacy needs to be protected. What information is open to the public should be decided by users.

  • Concept testing is needed in terms of validating our solution is really helpful for our target audience.

Testing & New Findings

To further figure out if our solutions are working in the right way, we then conducted a concept testing with the combination of survey and focus group. We designed and sent out a survey to 130 homeschoolers, trying to 1) test out if our solutions make sense to the target audience; 2) verify some assumptions we made when making design decisions. We also conducted a 5-people focus group discussing the concept with the target users.

Main findings from concept testing that informed our later design iterations:

  • Concept: Mostly correct path. Just shift the focus from building courses to sharing and rating learning resources.

  • Homeschoolers don’t use rigid course plan. Most of them revise the course plan on the way.

  • About a half of homeschooling kids have special (health) conditions. E.g., ADHD, Autism...

  • Most of them are more open towards privacy issues than we expected. 

 
Meet Homemade Genius
Add & Manage Kids
Build & Organize Courses
Personalized Recommendations
Search what you want
Information helps decision making
Courses/Users/Resources
Save & Manage Resources/Courses
Add Resource to a Course
 
User Flow
Portfolio Presentation - Homemade Genius
Portfolio Presentation - Homemade Genius
Portfolio Presentation - Homemade Genius
User Flow & Key Tasks
 
 

Design Details

#1 Add & Manage Homeschoolers
Based on research findings, homeschool instructors are mainly homeschool parents, who have, in most case, more than 1 kid to educate. Also, many homeschooled kids have special health conditions such as ADHD. Research results helped us clarify the design goal here.
[Design Goal]
  • Provide an easy way to manage multiple homeschoolers.

  • Provide an easy way to switch between different homeschoolers.

  • Consider the fact that many homeschoolers have special health issues.

  • Consider the privacy issue carefully.

[Design Question]
  • What information of homeschoolers do we want to collect?

  • How can privacy be protected while users can still get enough personalized recommendation?

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Add Kids
Switch KidsEasily
Manage Kids
Design Iterations
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1. Privacy issue

- No real photo

- Optional answer

- Set view-ablity

2. Make kids switching easier

#2 Build & Manage Courses
Homeschool instructors make loose course plans for their kids and prepare learning materials in advance. Homemade Genius helps homeschool parents easily build and manage courses/learning resources for each kid.
[Design Goal]
  • Make the course building process simple and quick.

  • Make the course structured while not too rigid.

  • Provide an easy and smart way to add and manage learning resources.

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[Design Question]
  • How detailed should the course structure be?

  • Do we want to preset a template in order to let other people look through the course content easier? 

  • What resources do users need? How do they use resources?

Design Iterations

​​[Test Findings]

  • Based on the test findings, most people don’t have a rigid course plan and they revise on the go.  

  • Also, people want to learn more about how other people use resources instead of organizing a course.

[Iteration Goal]

  1. Support more flexible course structure and resource organization

  2. Focus more on resources

  3. A clearer information architecture

Course Structure

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Add Resources