With COVID-19, schools have had to transfer online. As a result, there has been a loss of the social aspects that come with school. My brother told me all about his new learning situation. Students from all over a school board were placed together in classes, making it difficult to connect with new classmates. Classes rarely have any interaction with other students during class. And when the school day ends at 3pm, there are no after school activities.
Students become bored after school and feel isolated. Parents are worried about younger children, needing them to stay safe and busy while they finish up their work day. Teachers have ideas and the ambition to help students, but don’t know where to start or how to organize activities.
How might we connect students and create a sense of “togetherness” in a school setting while protecting everyone’s privacy?
What it does
ClubHouse is a secure, online platform meant to build student communities within school boards. It allows students to meet and interact with other like-minded students in a club-like setting that is supervised by teachers; just like in-person clubs.
Students can meet individuals that they never would’ve had the opportunity to meet before and bond over shared interests by creating mini-communities, or “clubs”. In addition, any student can request to create a club, so they are free to express their passions. Overall, ClubHouse revives students’ sense of belonging and connection, contributing to better physical and mental health.
The second key problem is privacy. Students can meet each other through clubs and each club is approved and supervised by a teacher within the board. In addition, no student information is collected other than what is already collected by their school board, such as student IDs and emails. Students’ usernames and profile pictures are also anonymized to make it even safer. To top it off, students under 16 years old will require parental consent, ensuring that their parents/guardians know what they’re up to.
For parents, ClubHouse reassures them that their children are making friends and learning from their peers in a secure manner, almost like a bubble where only students and teachers with the school board are allowed in. For parents of younger students, they gain back an “extra hour” of their day since they don’t have to watch over them while they’re on ClubHouse, which is much needed for parents who are stressed and overworked especially while working from home.
For teachers wanting to go the extra mile to help their students out, ClubHouse presents an easy way for teachers to get involved in a high impact way. Teachers directly help by moderating the clubs students create to ensure a safe space for all individuals, no matter who they are.
How we built it
Initially, we explored a variety of problem spaces including online proctoring, caring for patients in hospitals, and domestic abuse. We took a problem-centric approach so that we knew that when we came to a consensus on a topic, we wouldn’t be submitting to solutionism. The one that stuck out to us was educational technology, or ed tech. As high school students not too long ago, we thought of how online schooling and the lack of extracurriculars would have negatively impacted our wellbeings. There’s no sense of community or the support that comes with it.
We spoke to younger students and searched online to see how schools and school boards have dealt with this social aspect of school in an online setting, only to find no existing, cohesive solution. Using this, we crafted user personas and stories of what students, teachers and parents were looking for. This helped us identify different goals, pain points, and needs that we need to address in our design.
To narrow the scope of our project and prioritize features, we followed a structure similar to the Kano model by first listing out the basic features that users essentially expect from our platform. We created wireframes to visualize all these ideas and then as a team of 5, we created the prototype using Figma.
Challenges we ran into
With the prompt of privacy, we initially ran in circles trying to find a problem space we wanted to tackle that would fit the criteria. It made it difficult to move past the phase of defining a problem we could tackle in the limited time frame. When we began to focus more on the connection aspect of the prompt, this helped open our eyes to the possibilities we could tackle. We thought some more about our current situation and own experiences to settle on designing a solution for middle schools and high schools.
Another challenge we ran into was the abundance of features we wanted to prototype for our product idea. With the limited time we had for this designathon, we had to prioritize the features we wanted to create. This helped us set a direction for creating the foundation of our product and communicate the essential features.
Accomplishments we are proud of
We are proud of completing a high fidelity prototype with several microinteractions and illustrations to build our product. Also, we are proud of finding and bringing together a unique combination of features to fill a gap in the market.
What we learned
We learned that the research and ideation phases are very important parts of the design process. While we spent a lot of time in these phases, it was very helpful in assisting us to identify the problem space we ultimately wanted to tackle through a privacy-centric approach.
What’s next for ClubHouse?
ClubHouse can be expanded further to incorporate more features. We’d like to explore how ClubHouse can be used for more established clubs and organizations outside of schools. We’d like to see if this is something we can work on and eventually bring to market.