user experience | digital platform
Cue + A
How might we create student-driven lessons?
In a typical school curriculum, teachers are focused on covering specific content, which often means there isn't time to address questions that are not directly related to the material. Students may have unanswered questions about topics that are important or relevant to their daily lives, that their immediate social circle may not know either.
Cue + A is a student driven platform where students can pose questions for courses they wish existed, and receive video responses from experts.
No Time for Questions
The time crunch to cover curriculum requirements leaves little time for students to ask questions or explore important tangential topics.
Teachers across grade levels and subject areas need to make sure they cover specific content areas, and test for proficiency. This typically means the objective it to make sure students have certain key information memorized in order to pass a test, whether at a class level, state level, or a national level. The focus is not on whether students are learning, are engaged in the content, or will be able to apply the knowledge beyond the scope of the course. In response, students may feel like they are jumping through hoops, and not see the relevance in what they are "learning."
Middle School and Up
Elementary school has more room for creativity, but when things "start to get serious," there's less room for student questions.
Among teachers, elementary school teachers have a reputation for having the most leeway, and have more opportunities for creative assignments and exploration. As the importance of GPA and pressure of college admittance increases, the prevalence of rote memorization increases as well. Yet notably in middle school and high school, students are going through developmental and emotional changes that are not well addressed in public school curriculum.
One of the top suggestions for engaging students is to use their interests and fascinations. Most resources tailored to this are printed surveys.
Teachers are constantly looking for ways to engage students, where some of the top suggestions include using students' interests and fascinations. Furthermore, educational companies such as Scholastic provide free resources to teachers, such as student interest surveys, to gauge areas of interest as a tool for classroom engagement.
Meanwhile, there are a number of online course websites, such as udemy, coursera, and edX. However they target an older demographic of college students or working professionals. There is no platform for younger students to have course content created based on what they are curious in, rather than curricular requirements. Content creation companies such as MTV, Teen Vogue, and Buzzfeed are attempting to fill in some of those gaps.
Flipping the Script
Student-driven content, leaving students in charge of asking the questions about pressing concerns and the topics they care about.
Cue+A is a web-based platform that takes the premise of student engagement surveys into a Q&A-type forum. Students can propose classes based on questions they have, and receive video tutorials, stories, or explanations from experts in response.
Teachers also have the opportunity to see what topics are trending within their classes to incorporate student interests and questions into their lesson plans and teaching. Cue+A supports teachers by providing video content and lessons of it's own on storytelling, developing a point of view, as well as video making, to help educators develop their own unique teaching style and voice.
Proof of Concept
A test tutorial for instructors, from a filmmaker and video storytelling teacher.
Instructors need resources too. That's why Cue+A provides video tutorials of it's own, helping to lower the barrier to entry for new instructors.In addition to the basics of shooting and editing, Cue+A works with experts in storytelling, vocal coaching, and POV for tutorials that have a little extra flavor. As a preliminary test for Cue+A, a created a course proposal for a question: How do you create a video using basic equipment?, and reached out to Michael Chung, an independent filmmaker, photographer, and video storytelling instructor.
A Course Proposal
Students submit course ideas via a proposal form. I began to prototype, test questions, and iterate using Google Forms.
Using Google Forms, I generated a course proposal form based on the type of information I believed was necessary for an instructor to create a lesson. The form was completed predominately by graduate students in the first test. In a second version, the form was completed by a second grader, Quinn, who falls under one of the age extremes for users. The idea was to see how the form needed to be modified in order to guide the process for the youngest users, which would in turn benefit all users.
Proposal and response
Advice from the Experts
Using the course proposal from second grader Quinn about writing stories, author and journalist Rob Walker created a response video.
Quinn proposed a course called "writing wonderful stories," because she wanted to get ideas for how to write a book. I reached out to journalist and author, Rob Walker, who agreed to make a video in response, as well as provide feedback on the process. One of the questions Rob gets asked most frequently that related to Quinn's proposal is how to come up with ideas. He made the video below to share his tips and tricks on the subject (below).