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ELE | e-literacy for everyone.

ELE is a digital education platform that is designed for both parents, caregivers, and children ages 4-9.

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  • Student
  • Carnegie Mellon University - Anna Boyle, Erica Weston, Karen Escarcha, Will Su

Tell us about your idea

COVID-19 has forced many to embrace the digital world as the primary source of entertainment, education, and communication. A spike in screen time has accelerated the need for families to come together and find ways to navigate safe, secure, and appropriate digital interactions. That’s where ELE comes into play.

ELE is a digital education platform designed for parents, caregivers and children ages 4-9 to learn collaboratively about safe and secure digital literacy habits.

Fortunately, there are many resources currently available that promote digital literacy for children. One leading industry resource is Google’s Be Internet Awesome Initiative - a program that aims to help kids be safe and confident when interacting with the online world.

Through a proposed partnership with Google, ELE would present the Be Internet Awesome Initiative’s online curriculum through an interactive and collaborative learning application. Google currently does not have an app for their Be Internet Awesome Initiative, so we see ELE as an appropriate complement to bringing the curriculum into the family home. Google’s resources are currently provided in a printable format and are primarily designed for educators. ELE would provide an interactive online curriculum that aids in facilitated conversations between parents, caregivers and children while building and developing trust and a stronger digital relationship within families.

Parents, caregivers, children and service partners receive mutual benefit from the content that ELE provides. Parents, caregivers and their child mutually benefit from building trust and deeper relationships. The value exchange between our service and the parent or caregiver is guidance, awareness of current trends, and support. In exchange, the parent or caregiver advocates for and endorses our service. The service would also provide children with appropriate knowledge and online safety skills. Our service would continue to provide value to users over time by encouraging them to revisit their Family Pledge as they make progress through ELE’s curriculum track.

ELE takes the form of 4 key interactive touchpoints. 

  1. ELE App
    The ELE app would be accessible on Google Slate Tablets provided by Google Public School Partnerships, as well being downloadable for free in the App Store.

    After downloading, the parent and child are introduced to ELE and prompted to sign-up. As they onboard the app, the parent and child create unique individual avatars. The app then generates a custom course curriculum tailored to the family’s interests and preferences.

  2. ELE Family Pledge
    ELE (the chatbot) introduces the parent and child to the Family Pledge touchpoint and acts as a guide for users as they create the pledge together. There are 5 pledge cards to fill out, and both parent and child make promises to each other throughout the exercise.

    After completing the pledge cards, they are asked to prioritize the list. To sign the pledge, the parent and child are then asked to trace over their avatars, this acts as an individual signature for their Family Pledge. The final Family Pledge is a living document that can be edited as family priorities change. There is also a printable copy of the Pledge available that can be printed out and posted on the fridge.


  1. ELE Chat Bot
    ELE (the chatbot) helps the parent and child reflect on what they learned after each track. ELE helps guide the conversation by asking both the parent and child to share with each other one interesting thing they learned, or provide them a scenario by asking them to discuss what they would do in that instance.

    ELE also brings up the Family Pledge and asks the parent and child to discuss how the Pledge is related to the track and if they need to add or modify the Pledge in any way.

  2. ELE Course Tracker
    The ELE Course Tracker is a physical touchpoint that helps the parent and child track their progress and gain rewards throughout the ELE learning experience. The Course Tracker is shaped like an elephant with drawers marked off for each track of the course. Each drawer contains a prize for the child when they complete part of the track. 

Having a physical reminder and reward helps keep children and adults motivated and engaged with the service outside of the digital interface.

Our service would continue to provide value over time to parents, caregivers, and their children by encouraging them to revisit their Family Pledge as they continue to move through the curriculum together. ELE would grow with children as the service expands to serving them as they grow older and expand to multi-sibling engagement. Once more, ELE could provide the value of learning digital literacy but most importantly building trust between parents and children, and strengthening their connection. 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

With schools shutting down and classes moving remote, COVID-19 has shed light on the digital divide within our school system. According to the Pew Research Center, 15% of U.S. households with school-age children do not have high-speed internet. In families with an annual income below $30,000, this number increases to 35% (Anderson & Auxier 2020). This divide includes a lack of access to devices, leaving some students with only a cellphone to complete homework. Post COVID-19, we wish to leave behind the digital divide in the U.S. school system. Ensuring that students have personal devices and access to the internet will lessen the burden of completing schoolwork online as well as expand learning environments into homes. Addressing this divide will also better prepare students for a future that relies heavily on navigating a digital world. We see ELE as an opportunity to aid families in learning and building key digital literacy habits and practices together. pewresearch.org, 2020

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

During Spring 2020, we explored adult learning opportunities within our Service Design course at CMU. During our research process we had the opportunity to conduct 6 interviews with parents with children ages 5-13 and 4 user tests. Through our research we identified three key insights to further develop our concept. First, children are more exposed to screen time because learning has shifted to an online format due to COVID-19. Second, the parents we interviewed expressed that they had different methods of handling digital engagement ranging from what children were exposed to, to monitoring screen time, to personal parent and child contracts. Lastly, we discovered that there are more potential hidden threats in some of these online interactions that we assumed would be safer for children including YouTube, chat features, and inappropriate advertising. This helped identify a need for accessible learning around digital literacy practices within families. 

What region are you located in?

  • North America

Where are you located?

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - Carnegie Mellon University

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