As women in tech ourselves, we experienced difficulties in pursuing tech careers, especially from an educational standpoint. Despite rapid technological changes, there are still many accessibility barriers that exist for those looking to dabble in the world of tech. Upon conducting secondary research into this problem area, we realized that this technology gap deters many individuals from learning about computing or programming. This led us to wonder: how might we promote accessibility in tech education for young aspiring coders or people in tech?
What it does
CodeWorld aims to introduce the wonders of computing to high school students and the general population, regardless of their background. With CodeWorld Chrome Extension, you can easily benefit from having a progress tracker that encompasses all coding coursework or lessons you do. You can visualize your progress based on your status in the Explore map and get access to free resources we curate towards your needs as a beginner coder.
Each module from our Explore map also contains quizzes and mini-games to put your knowledge to the test. You get rewarded with points that are redeemable with partner companies, for example, access to free courses to continue honing your skills or a 3-month free membership to a technology-based subscription. This truly helps drive home our mission for social impact and to increase accessibility in technology.
How We Built It
We took a consumer-facing approach to build CodeWorld by leveraging the human-centered design process and using Accenture’s Challenge guide to help us along the way. Before we started coming up with solutions, we empathized with our potential users by conducting research within our target audience. This included surveys that we shared on social media and interviews with students who have faced barriers in accessibility to learning about computing.
Gaining relevant insight from our research, we synthesized important quotes and data points and decided to proceed with a browser extension that aligned with our research data. We designed attractive low and medium fidelity prototypes that kept in mind user needs and experiences. Finally, we created our final prototype with animations and using frontend technologies, like React and CSS, all hosted on our GitHub repository.
Challenges We Ran Into
After ideating for our potential solution through convergent and divergent thinking, it was challenging for us to nail down the specific features of our product. Initially, we had settled on creating low-fidelity prototypes for a mobile application, however then switched to developing a chrome extension, which was a foreign form of web technology for all of us. Hence, moving into the mid-fidelity prototyping, we were presented with a steep learning curve to learn the fundamentals of creating extensions using React and CSS. This pushed us to seek mentorships and advice from SheHacks mentors. Balancing our design work and programming work was challenging as well, but we divided up the necessary work such that our progress was efficient and streamlined.
Accomplishments That We're Proud Of & What We learned
As a team with limited coding experience, we feel that we demonstrated resourcefulness throughout the weekend and are proud of the final product we were able to prototype. Heading into the hackathon, we each possessed unique skills in front end development, UI/UX, and business, enabling us to play to our personal strengths and produce a heavily front-end based extension. Subsequently, our project timeline was organized in an efficient manner, as each team member contributed to areas they felt most skilled in, allowing us to both learn from each other and develop a solid prototype and business proposal that we are proud of.
Simultaneously, one of our collective goals was to learn and grow as hackers and designers throughout the weekend, which was accomplished through our decision to tackle the development of a web technology that was initially foreign to us. Consequently, we gained ample learning experience in web development, UI/UX design, and UX research.
What's next for CodeWorld
With only 36 hours to complete CodeWorld, we foresee many areas for expansion and improvement. This includes implementing games as a method to test student knowledge, creating a leaderboard dashboard/playing with friends to foster community, integrating APIs for easy log-in access, and more responsive web browser tracking. We also hope that our business model may allow us to expand to an app or website. CodeWorld will also seek to find partnership opportunities with other technology education groups to further promote our mission for accessibility.