Part 2 -  Parents as Partners - Strengthening communication & trust between parents and teachers

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CLIENT

 

TAGS

 

ROLE

 

TEAM

 

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Kidzee Preschool

Design Research

Early Childhood Education

Co-design

Service Design

Design Researcher

Service Designer

UI/UX Designer

Aishwarya Jare

While conducting research for the previous project, I realised that apart from quality Teacher's Development, it is necessary to establish a healthy relationship between the parents and the teachers. Homes are an extension of the classroom. Positive connections between parents and teachers have been shown to improve children’s academic achievement, social competencies and emotional well-being. When parents and teachers work as partners, children do better in school and at home. 

Note: This project started in June was paused during the prototyping phase because the client decided that they want to start their own school after realising the potential of design services and research. They also want to get away from the constraints of owning a Zee Learn franchise. I have uploaded the process and work done in the 2 months. 

1. Challenges

After working on a project to strengthen teachers identity and improve the school culture, I worked on designing for parents. When I was designing for teachers, I observed a lot of challenges that the school faced related to the parents side of the spectrum. Hence, it became vital to design for parents and create a well rounded systems change in the organisation. Some of these challenges that the school faced were - 

1. Miscommunication between the school and the parents about fees and invoices, pick up/drop off and day to day activities.

2. Parents were not sensitised about early childhood development, childcare or learning disabilities.

3. PTMs and orientations were uninteresting and monotonous and only about the child's academic progress which was stored in a report card. Progress in school was only discussed but not the progress at home. The concept of progress was only related to academic development and other developmental milestones weren't given importance. 

4. Parents did not participate in any kind of school activities. The school had only 2 events with parents that year. 

5. Parents had no clue about what was being taught at the school. There was a clear lack of communication between the teachers and the parents. Some parents were unaware about their child's teacher

6. Parents and teachers didn't trust each other. 

8. Parents expected the school to teach everything to the child.

2. Project Objectives

This project was intended to to create a positive and trustworthy relationship between the school and the parents. This meant designing better services for the parents, understanding their needs, sensitising them about the importance of early childhood education and integrating them as an important part of their child's learning process. To reach these goals, the various perspectives of all stakeholders were to be taken into account. The project sought to establish and consolidate cooperation between the 2 most important stakeholders for imparting quality education for their children. 

3. Research

I used a combination of techniques to do my research including one on one interviews, secondary research, co-design activities, phone interviews, user journey interviews.

 

- I had to dig deeper into the understanding the parents and their needs and what the school as an organisations works with parents. Understanding parents perspectives and understanding about parents from schools perspective. I used google forms and phone call discussions to do this. 

- It was also important to understand the importance of parent involvement and partnership with preschool and the effects of it. I mapped out how other schools in the world with ideal educational models do this. 

- In-depth Interview - Understanding needs, emotion, expectations of parents and other relevant stakeholders 

- To understand these challenges in-depth, I used the 5 whys method. I conducted surveys and had discussions with parents and teachers over the phone and facilitated a remote co-design with parents and the school owners.  

Aim of the user research? - Understand the problems parents face, what their expectations are and the amount of knowledge they have?

why's

research wall

A detailed co-design image

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Image of a research wall

Co-designing with parents and the school owners on Miro

I recruited 20 families and send them a video tutorial to get acquainted with miro along with a document which explained the goals, objectives of the activities. Every family had their own time slot because -

1. I wanted them to take their own sweet time in doing the activities.

2. Parents wouldn't have been honest and comfortable with everyone present at the same time, even if it was a digital platform. 

3. They would get influenced by looking at each other's responses. 

After each family was done, I had a long discussion with them and recorded all the responses.

Activity 1 - Built a preschool of your dreams for your child. Describe what everything is like? How are the teachers? What is the atmosphere like? Think of yourself as the owner of the school and design it.  

Activity 2 - List down some of the fears or anxieties you feel about your child and their education. 

Activity 3 - List down things you like about Kidzee and things you don't like. What are some problems you have faced in the past?

Activity 4 -What is good parenting according to you?

3. Insights and learnings

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1. The school has a spectrum of types of parents. Some want to be involved with the learning and collaborate with the school, some trust the school and want to let the school be. Some parents do think that parents are treated as customers, not collaborators. The only time a few of the parents have had contact with the school has been during the payment of the fees. 

2. Parents expect teachers to make their kids complete milestones set by Kidzee for every grade without actually understanding what is happening in school. Parents don't know-how development in early years work.  

3. From a teacher’s perspective, more contact with parents increases their responsibilities. In addition to classroom instruction, they are expected to develop leadership skills for working with parents

4. If parents are involved at the right steps of the learning process, the conversation between the teachers and the parents will be more transparent. The learning process would become more personalised as the parents could help in distributing the load of academics evenly between home and school. 

5. Involving parents and ensuring that boundaries are maintained could be difficult. That’s not to say that it’s a completely impossible task. The teachers need to figure out areas where they require parental assistance and are spread too thin.

6. Communication was the biggest challenge. There has been miscommunication from the teachers and the parent's side multiple times. Parents think the school is responsible and the teachers blame it on the parents. Most of the parents don't have a problem with the academics of the school but with the management and communication.

Pain points and discussed solutions

Understanding Parent Needs

Building Parent Profiles

4. Service Design

Relook at the journey map and blueprint

1. Parent journey map

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5. SWOT Analysis

According to the insights and discussions, the tool had to be fulfilling the following functions-

1. Teachers should be able to communicate with individual parents.

2. Ensure that families stay connected to their child’s development by sharing photos, videos, and notes from their day—either in the moment as they happen or later in a daily report.

3. The tool should be able to record different types of activities the child performs at the school and at home.

4. To observe and record anecdotes. 

5. To view what is being taught at school, different events etc

6. Facilitating open communication with families and enabling contactless operation of the centre, from documentation to payments. 

Although it seemed obvious to go ahead and created a tool to bridge the communication gap, I wanted to look at other platforms that could be used for example, could the work be done on slack or discord? Why couldn't WhatsApp or a Facebook group work? Along with this I looked at existing apps and did a SWOT analysis of all the tools and apps that already exist.

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This app sends communication through emails. One of the insights we got is the school communication gets lost in the emails that the parents receive. Along with this one issue, the app was very difficult to use

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The app also had a very confusing user experience and did not feel very personalised and friendly.

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This app also sends updates via email. Apart from that this app is meant to be used on a tablet.

This app also had extra features like putting the time the child peed or used the bathroom and several other trivial things which are not necessary. This end up increasing parents expectations and teachers will have to waste their time in filling up these trivial details for all the students. 

Brightwheel, another app almost seemed perfect to use but it also had some unnecessary features. For example,  putting in the nap time, or the food they ate and the timing they ate it which just added confusion and extra tasks for the teachers. 

Most of the apps had some or other issue, so we decided to create our own app. At this point, the clients also decided to start their own preschool in the future after realising the potential of research and design. So, it made sense to create. our own tool. But this is also the reason why the project had to be paused. The client needed to figure out the next steps and projects and objectives could also properly stir in a different direction. Although, I still did work on a Future service blueprint, prototypes and a few user tests for the app.

6. Future Service Blueprint

Employee experience

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User flow

User flow for parents, teacher and the administration

7. Ideation & Low-fi Design iterations

I moved forward from the service blueprint to detailing the touchpoints. Working in tandem with the users, I continued user testing throughout the process. 

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8. Features of the Final Prototype

1. Features

From the user research and countless discussions, (from the pain points?)we arrived at the final features  for the app

- Homework

- Events & Announcements, reminders

- Financial records

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Reminders & Events

Daily announcements related to holidays, events, meetings or any other important notifications will be shown in this section.

Connect​

Directly connect with the teacher or administrators. Raise concerns, give feedback, notify anything important quickly

Parents can chat with the class teacher, school admin to get information, stay updated, talk about progress

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Diary

Learning has to continue at home to make sure a holistic development of the child. This section directs parents to do exact tasks as

Daily Report

Learning has to continue at home to make sure a holistic development of the child. This section directs parents to do exact tasks as

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Fees Payment

Fee Payment records and option for online payment. 

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Progress

Parents need to understand the various developmental milestones and make sure they keep a track of it at home today. In this section, parents can view progress at school, read more about developmental milestones and be involved with the progress from home

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Calendar

- View the schedule and activities conducted in school for the next day or any other day
- Filter events, reminders, schedules and PTMS
- See all the info about the activities conducted

Free Vector Apple iPhone 8 Ai & .EPS For
Free Vector Apple iPhone 8 Ai & .EPS For
Free Vector Apple iPhone 8 Ai & .EPS For
Free Vector Apple iPhone 8 Ai & .EPS For

Van Tracking

This van tracking feature will let update live location of the van and send an other updates or notifications

Free Vector Apple iPhone 8 Ai & .EPS For

What's next

1. Accessibility - I want to introduce text to voice feature

2. Language support - Include multiple language support to cater to all types of users

3. Interactions - I want to create a delightful experience for the users by introducing micro interactions 

7. Learnings and Reflections

1. The biggest learning with this project was being able to facilitate the co-design process. It was exhausting even from home. At first, I had already given up because I thought I won't be able to do justice for a project like this by sitting at home and just having phone call discussions. But, a little reading up about facilitating remote sessions helped me plan and put the whole thing together. 

2. I was frustrated that I had to pause this project and that there is a probability that I will have to start with something else completely after the clients figure out what they want in the future. But, I learned that this is usually how it is and it's never going to be a linear process. 

3. Continuous verification- It was imperative to continuously understand and verify the interests of parents and teachers at the same time. For example, there could be some features of the app the parents wanted but it would be an unnecesary burden for the teachers. So, discussions together with all stakeholders present was vital. It was important to take into account whether the dervices that are offered solve the identified problems. 

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