Concept development / Strategy / Individual project
Integrating social media as a
educational tool in schools,
to bring kids closer across the world.
The challenge of the 2017 creative application task for Hyper Island was a broad one; make a digital solution that can in a small or large scale solve a problem, making the world a better place in a way that is meaningful to you.
A concept presentation which clearly presents the problem and an idea on how to solve it. It should be understandable within a 5 minutes review.
Duration / year / Project type
3 weeks / 2017 / Hyper Island application task
I decided to narrow in the field by formulating this focus question; how might I create a social and educational platform, which cultivates relationships among kids across the world and helps build an appreciation for cultural differences? I wanted to create a concept that would challenge the problem of people being afraid of each other’s differences. I decided to focus on school kids to strive to make an impact at a early stage of life, as a way to develop an openness and curiosity towards people from other cultures.
What motivated me to create PALS?!
Around the time where the Creative Task for Hyper Island was released, the streams of Syrian refugees were at a highpoint in Scandinavia.
In general rightwing politics was winning territory in Europe and Donald Trump had recently been elected for president. I wanted to create something that stood in opposition to the growing fear of the unknown and the reaction of protecting what is “ours”. I created the concept of PALS to lay the ground for enlightening conversations and relations, to break down fear. I wanted to create a way for kids – the next generation – to connect, to learn and to reach a better understanding of each other across the world and across cultures.
This is PALS!
Bringing kids closer across the world
Let’s say a school class has a project about Fiji – PALS is a social media tool for schools that facilitates the possibility for kids to gain knowledge by talking directly to kids on Fiji or anywhere else in the world. Learning from real people. Learning from real conversations.
Kids are empowered and actively engaged, as they become their own educational content creators with the help from various social media features like video, photo and instant messaging.
PALS enables kids to have a positive and educating encounters with one another across the world – widening horizons and making the world an easier place to relate to. It encourages kids to go beyond their usual social sphere, making the unknown known.
The context of education is essential
PALS facilities a possibility for working with an interdisciplinary teaching approach, including subjects like language education, social sciences, geography and multi media in one go.
For this to happen in a way that has a positive impact on the kids’ development, the context of its use is essential and that’s why PALS is a social media tool for schools; to combine the platform features with the expertise of teachers, securing a context of learning, guidance and encouragement.
Understanding users to shape a relevant approach
The primary target users are school kids in the age around 9-14 years old and the secondary target group is their teachers. Most target users will at this age have started learning English and will therefore more easily be able to communicate with each other through English as a common language. During my research phase, I looked into the digital communication habits of Generation Z, the generation of the target group, to secure the concept embraced the users and their relationship to digital and social media.
Engagement and empowerment, on the kids’ terms
Incorporating social media in teaching is a way to constructively and purposefully embrace kids’ social media habits by utilising it with an educational and socially developing intention. It is a way to acknowledge what digital communication is to kids today and not treating it as a negative, but seeing the potential for integrating it as a teaching approach and engaging the kids on their terms.
I made this project before having developed a deep understanding of human centered design processes at Hyper Island. So if I were to take the concept of PALS further today, I would move away from my computer right away and start talking to users – to kids around the world, their parents and their teachers. I would prototype and co-create together with the users to create a solution that truly made sense for them, moving beyond assumptions through Design Doing.
Designing with a business understanding
During my early research, I fell upon Strategyzer’s book “Business model generation” and decided to use their Business Canvas as a loose framework to consider the concept more holistically. Today after having developed my business understanding further at Hyper Island, I would consider elements as revenue streams and key partners to be much more important, to create a concept that is both profitable and brings value to the users.