What makes digital learning fun for students? And, with all the websites and online learning tools out there, what aspects draw students to certain sites and not others?
Over the last month, a group of 4th, 5th and 6th graders tackled these questions through an internship program coordinated by the Edcite team and Katherine Smith Elementary School. More specifically, our “Junior CEOs” set out to answer one driving question: how can Edcite be more engaging to students?
The students used the principles of design thinking to guide them through the process of answering this question. First, after exploring the website and hearing from Edcite’s co-founder Amar Rajasekhar, the Junior CEOs developed empathy for the challenges Edcite faces. Afterwards, the students divided into groups, thought creatively about possible solutions for Edcite, and utilized rationality to design actual prototypes of solutions. Last week, the students presented their prototypes to the Edcite team as well as to their parents, teachers and friends. Below is a short description of the brilliant prototypes developed by the students:
- Customizable Home Page: at the most basic level, students want to feel some sense of ownership and connection to the websites they use. That’s why Gilbert and Jacob suggesting creating “a cool home page that you can design”! Their prototype allowed students to change the background color/image and the avatar on the student home page.
- Bringing Experts to Edcite: Freddy and Ekekiel wanted to collaborate more with other students as they were working. And why not? We all know that students greatly reinforce their learning when they explain the concepts to one another. So they created the “experts tab”, a social tab that allows students to connect with other students to ask questions. The Expert Page also allows students to update their status, post what they’re working on, or list any educational questions they have.
- Adventures in Learning: how huge would student growth be if kids were as excited about learning as they are about playing video games? Exploring gaming was so enticing for students that two student groups worked on this question: Oscar, Jose and Kevin, and Valentina and Angelica. The students wanted to merge the educational value of Edcite with the fun of their video games, so they used ipixel to design educational video games. As students moved along the video game, they would be asked true/false or multiple-choice questions that the teacher could designate beforehand. Sure sounds fun to me!
- How-To Videos: Alexis and Itzel spoke to teachers at Katherine Smith who use Edcite and discovered there is a large problem with student login. This is especially true for the lower elementary levels, where students aren’t as proficient with the keyboard and/or spelling. To remedy this problem, the girls created a student how-to video. Much to the awe of the adults, the students taught themselves how to use the video editing tool Camtasia in a single day. Maybe we should have them create all of our how-to videos for us??
- Rewards: knowing that students want to feel proud of the work they accomplish, Emily and Helena devised a rewards system for Edcite users. The rewards system would give students coins at the end of an assignment, based on how many questions they answered correctly. Students could then use those rewards to purchase things on the site – such as a digital highlighter or a digital notebook.
- Learn Creatively: Kacie and Lillyana wanted students to get more opportunities to think and show their work in a more creative way. The students thought about a few different creative questions types that Edcite could add, but their prototype focused on one specifically – the paint tool. This tool would allow students to use shapes and colors to draw on Edcite, equipping students with yet another avenue to express their thinking in a digital setting.
All in all, we’re floored by the insights and ideas coming out of the Junior CEOs program. We can’t wait to work with the students and the incredible Katherine Smith school team throughout the coming year. But for now, we need to get to work. The students ‘dreamed it’ and ‘designed it’, and now it’s up to our team to ‘do it’.