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Self-learning.tips, an example of how design methods can lead to educational innovations in the context of a worldwide health crisis

A playful platform which prepares teenagers to be self-directed learners

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I am a.....

  • Student

Tell us about your idea

The problem

During the first week following school closures, teenagers aged 11 to 18 years old were
given the opportunity to share their thoughts, preferences, difficulties and adaptations regarding school at home versus being at school through a small-scaled workshop, group discussions and an online survey. They stated that they struggled with self-discipline, motivation and focus as they would normally rely on the rhythm given by the educational structure. Pupils realised the need for a teacher and a structure to guide their learning. They noticed that they had no choice but to adapt to this new normal and figure out ways to get organised and keep doing their homework. The kids also saw this situation as an opportunity to gain more freedom over their pace and learning content. Having control over their studies sounded very appealing however most of them shared their lack of self-management. Amongst the teenagers to answer, one only affirmed that she had found tools to help her plan and organise her work, which leaves 44 students unarmed.


Design brief

This project aims to prepare teenagers to be self-directed learners by creating a playful platform internationally accessible which provides unique tools for each individual in order for them to be more efficient in their own learning.

Research question:
How might we equip young ones with the skills to take ownership of their learning?

Approach:
Providing a sense of control over time through physicality and interactions in order to increase productivity and enjoyment while learning and grow intrinsic motivation to learn as shown in Figure 1.

The main objective is to explore the potential of design thinking applied to the field of education through the example of Self-learning.tips.


The methodology

The project development follows the five stages of design process laid out by IDEO as presented in Figure 2. Its structured human-centered approach helps navigate through the different phases, starting with understanding and observing the world to framing a design challenge or research question to ultimately prototyping and testing solutions. Self-learning. tips was developed engaging with users at different steps and in various ways such as online surveys to gather insights or remote user testing to validate the outcome.


The outcome

The solution is a self-directed learning structure which provides teenagers with tools to self- regulate their learning while growing intrinsic motivation to learn. Integrating this intention, Self-learning.tips follows a six steps process highlighted in Figure 3, inspired by the Deming wheel.

The envisioned system is divided in three actions which represents the three elements: combine (the website), self-assess (the questionnaire), act (the tools) as shown in the user journey (Figure 4).

Component 1: Combine

Self-learning.tips is a website on which users can assess themselves through a test leading them to their self-directed learner profile and
to unique tools based on their results. The platform aims to be simple and straightforward. Through an easy journey, Self-learning.tips makes it very accessible to navigate resources, sharing only the needed information instead of overloading the user
with text (See Figure 5). Bringing elements of gamification to the platform turns self- improvement into a fun personal challenge and develops a long-term investment in the platform.

Component 2: Self-assess

The created instrument evaluates the user’s strengths and weaknesses in terms of self-directed learning. Building on existing psychometric tests, the questionnaire is a list of 63 questions. Those questions are divided into nine sets to evaluate the nine competencies believably indicative of someone’s self- directedness:
- motivation toward learning,
- self-awareness,
- motivation toward action,
- setting goals,
- time-management,
- independence and self-confidence,
- concentration,
- self-evaluation,
- problem-solving.

The survey asks each individual to self-reflect on their learning preferences and to indicate which number best describes their feelings, beliefs, skills, actions or thoughts, on a scale of 1 to 5.
1 = Almost never true of them ;
2 = Not often true of them ;
3 = Sometimes true of them ;
4 = Usually true of them ;
5 = Almost always true of them.
The score range is 63 to 315.

Component 3: Act

The tools are answering needs in the identical nine categories and were inspired by existing methods and tools. All tools were developed with the same intention: making time visible and physical. They are designed to be interactive through actions like tearing off, turning, playing, shaping, drawing, throwing, assembling.


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

At the moment, the European school systems are mostly built as a one-size fits all model. It focuses a lot more on the teaching methods than the learning methods e.g. how a teacher delivers knowledge rather than how students absorb it. Education, as it currently exists, is rather standardised and calibrated for an “average student”, even if there is a definite desire to change this approach and to diversify the ways of teaching to include children with learning difficulties in the “classical” teaching. Each child has a different potential and intelligence. Alternatives to traditional systems remain exceptions such as the Montessori philosophy, a method of education based on learning by doing and collaboration. As societies wish to be more inclusive, it is time for education to follow that shift by making knowledge accessible to all, whatever the barriers of each student and adapting educational methods to individual differences. How can the teaching methods be surely effective?

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

I create experiences. Better experiences. Educative experiences. Playful experiences, context-led experiences or empowering experiences. 

Life is a serie of experiences. I personnally value experiences more than belongings. I observe how people see, feel, explore and act. I use perspective-taking to shift my mindset and understand how people experience the world. I find the gaps and flaws and turn them into opportunities, aiming for enhanced experiences.

I also believe education is the most powerful tool ever created. I value individual talents as I see everyone as a genius and believe, with the adequate tools and support, everyone could thrive in their own ways. Therefore, my work consists of an exploration of various manners to combine design processes to education in order to create educative experiences.

As I lived in and engaged with people from many different countries, I love working in multi-disciplinary and cross-cultural teams since they lead to unexpected directions. 

What region are you located in?

  • Europe

Where are you located?

I am remotely studying in the UK from Nantes, France. I currently live with younger brothers and sisters who inspired this idea.

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