📍Seoul, South Korea.
🎓 University Project:
Utilizing Mesh Network and a Distance Learning Platform to promote a productive learning experience for youth in South Korea.
How might we promote a productive distance learning experience for youth without reliable technology?
IOT Mesh Network / Educational Platform (UX/UI)
Nicole Dantas, Davi Coscarelli, Seo Kim, Ali Mustapa, Chiffon Nguyen
Research, Project Development and Design.
CLED is a project we developed at University while in South Korea. We propose an engaging learning platform for extracurriculars powered by an IOT Mesh Network, addressing the problem of unreliable connection in smaller towns of SK.
🎯 Challenge Research:
In 2020, about 70,000 low-income Seoul citizens survived under governmental aid (Seoul Open Data Plaza, 2019). The lack of access to educational materials, caused by economic disadvantage, significantly impacts students’ academic performance and engagement (Gordon & Cui, 2014).
1% of Koreans aged 10-19, including middle school students, lacked or had poor Internet access in 2020, though South Korea has one of the world's fastest connections (Jobst, 2021a). Those with insufficient finances also experience gaps in skillsets fostered by extracurricular programs.
Goal State to Reach:
We propose providing an engaging online extracurricular platform for students without Internet access. The first goal is to apply this model at 1-2 middle schools in Gangwon.
Constraints to Tackle:
The solution has to be optimized for an offline alternative and it should be scalable, attending all students.
Narrowing Down with Question with Deeper Research
Validating the Problem with Surveys
In this section, we conducted surveys to validate the problem and gather insights from South Korean students. We asked questions related to connectivity issues, disruptions to extracurricular studies, and support provided.
- Did you face any connectivity issues during the pandemic that impacted your ability to participate in online classes or complete tests?
- Did you experience any disruptions to your extracurricular studies during the pandemic due to connectivity issues or lack of access to technology?
- Did your school or institution provide any support or resources to help address connectivity issues or lack of access to technology during the pandemic? If so, were they helpful?
- Do you think an initiative like this would have been helpful to you or someone you know during the pandemic? Please explain why or why not.
Based on the responses gathered from the survey, we were able to identify that unreliable internet connectivity was a major obstacle faced by students. We decided to focus on addressing these connectivity issues as the main motivator of our solution.
📚 Connectivity Issues as an Obstacle
Students have problems studying class material with unreliable internet.
Family didn’t want to invest on improving connectivity as it wasn’t a financial priority.
Students are having difficulties to continue their extracurricular studies.
“My internet connection wasn’t very reliable and since we didn’t never expected everything to go online, we never improved it as it wasn’t a financial priority. Sometimes I would lose content”
✋ No Personal Technological Device
A few students didn’t have personal phones or computers, which was an obstacle for them to study and submit materials.
“Not having my own phone or computer was the fundamental issues, as my parents were not willing to invest on one not knowing for how long I would need.
To effectively address the refined question, we synthesized two solutions, illustrated with the content of Music Theory.
👩🏻💻 Mesh Network:
For the students to access our educational platform, we propose a Mesh Network as a source of connection independent from internet availability.
To substantially improve students' learning experience and engagement in extracurricular activities, we propose an educational platform, CLED, which can be accessed through the use of the Mesh Network.
We use wirelessly connected solar-powered devices, called Hubs, to create a network that anyone with a smartphone or computer can access. Students only need to connect to the “Wi-Fi” network generated by the nearest Hub to access our virtual teaching platform.
This Network allows multiple nodes to receive and retrieve information without connecting to a central AP.
This allows the CLED network to have a significantly more stable infrastructure since any node can achieve interconnectivity with a nearby node.
To inform the first wireframes, I created an information architecture was taking into account the constraints imposed by the proposed IOT Mesh Network. The flow was designed to be as simple as possible, with fewer screens to reduce complexity and ensure that the platform could be effectively utilized with the proposed network.
High Fidelity Wireframes
Based on the information architecture reviewed by the entire team, I developed high fidelity wireframes for the most relevant screens and the first prototype.
I conducted a second round of surveys to gather insights on the design of our solution. We asked participants questions related to their first impressions of the design prototype, what they liked and disliked about it, and whether it clearly communicated its purpose and intended function.
- What are your first impressions of the design prototype?
- What do you like about the design prototype? What do you dislike?
- Does the design prototype clearly communicate its purpose and intended function? If not, what could be improved?
- Are there any parts of the design prototype that are confusing or unclear? If so, what could be improved?
Exploration and Wireframes
I utilized the survey responses to make improvements on the first prototype proposal, refining the design, making it more accessible, and user-friendly to the students.
CLED’s Learning Platform:
The result was a learning platform that was optimized for the proposed IOT Mesh Network, with shorter navigation and less complex operations to ensure effective utilization of the platform.
Most Relevant Screens:
Exploring Future Opportunities:
Although we had to be careful about including videos due to the chosen network, an interesting future opportunity for CLED could be to include pop culture in lessons and quizzes to motivate students while studying remotely.
During my time in South Korea, I gathered various references to understand the predominant design elements there. I incorporated these elements into the logo design and style guide.
Final Presentation and Project Review
Team: Nicole Dantas, Davi Coscarelli, Seo Kim, Ali Mustapa, Chiffon Nguyen.
🙇♀️ What I Learned
- How to keep constraints in mind when designing solutions.
- To simplify innovative ideas with goals in mind.
- To keep the audience as a priority.
🙋♀️ What I Would do Different
- I would do more meaningful user testing on the final designs we arrived to.
- I would look for external resources to develop a first physical prototype.
- Would have documented more of the process.
- Better consider the WCAG standards for accessibility.