Using UX to avoid bullying in schools

Case study part 1: UX Research

Here is it, my final project in the Ironhack UX / UI Bootcamp! I was looking for a project that I really like and I asked myself: If I have to work in a project, what kind of a project I would like? Hmm…

It was easier thanks to Sherezade J.M, a superwoman who is psychologist, educational counselor, teacher and mom. She has a wide experience in schools and she showed me the big problem bullying is nowadays in Spain and how difficult is to face it.

Almost every day there are news about bullying. I found studies from ANAR foundation and Mutua Madrileña that show it’s a real problem in schools and is still growing. Those who suffer bullying have serious problems like anxiety disorder, isolation, left school, depressive disorder, conduct disorder…

Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits

Alicia, a student of 14 years old, is one of them and he needs a way to avoid bullying in school because he don’t wants to be outcasted and have a group of friends to play with.

The challenge we ran into is to help to Alicia and other kids in his situation in this XXI century full of rising technologies and find a way to avoid bullying.

The design process & UX methods used

I like to achieve the best results with the minimum amount of resources, so you’ll see some tools made with pen and paper and you won’t see beautiful and artistic sketches but useful.

1. Competitors

The first thing we did was to check what technologies and apps we have available in the market around the globe to combat bullying, and this is a list of some remarkable apps, but you can find a lot of apps and websites dedicated to combat this problem:

Some top anti-bullying apps

What are them about? Well, you can find into them a lot of info and public awareness about bullying and some of them allow the children to chat with experts or other students, geolocate them when they have problems, record audio and video of what’s happening, etc.

In Spain the use of mobile in schools is not regulated by law and the school decide about their use, but most of schools forbid mobile phones in class. Then, we decided to find alternative devices that allow us the use of the technology without mobiles. Here are some devices we found useful:

Useful devices for geolocation, monitoring heart rate, send notifications, take photos, record video and audio, make calls, chat, etc.

We can find activity wearables like watches for kids, GPS location for dogs or ancients with alzheimer, for example. A useful tool we found in this research was a SOS button on some children’s devices to send a notification and the geolocation to parents in a dangerous situation.

Insights:

  • Most of the apps are mainly for children only.
  • In Spain it’s forbidden to take pictures or record videos of children, we must take care of it.
  • We realized that a ‘tech’ problem to solve is indoor geolocation (we have a couple of options like wifi, sacrificing battery life, or bluetooth beacons).

2. Benchmark and market research

Once we know what’s in the market of anti-bullying apps, we made a Lean Survey Canvas to prepare what kind of questions we need to do in our 3 different surveys (for students, teachers and parents) and also we did 5 interviews to students and parents. We didn’t know if the kids would use a device to report bullying cases in real time and the parents let them to use the device and accept that their kids could be located inside the school and could be recorded, so we’ve to validate it.

Left: Remarkable results from surveys / Right: Part of references document

New insights:

  • 92% of students would use the device.
  • 83% of parents would let their children bring the device.
  • 48% of teachers don’t know how to react in a bullying situation.
  • It’s very important the children use the device in a good way, so gamification is important.
  • Devices must be cheap. Most of the parents would pay up to 20€.

3. Defining business problem

As we have time enough, we made a UX Strategy Blueprint, a Lean UX Canvas, a Value Proposition Canvas and a How Might We…? (HMW’s) to empathize and define the business problem we are facing, create hypothesis and give solutions to them. We also started an Affinity Diagram to collect all the information during the process what you’ll see it at the end.

Left: Lean UX Canvas — Right: UX Strategy Blueprint
Left: Value Proposition Canvas — Right: How might we…?

Insights:

  • Events, speeches, info, awareness material and action guides for teachers and parents.
  • Maybe teachers can’t go to the location where the bullying case has been reported or they arrive too late.
  • If kids have mobile phone, we could send them some questions about how was the day, if they know the people implicated when they reported a case, games for bullying consciousness...
  • Heart rate monitoring is a plus because we would notice if the students take off their device.

4. Empathizing

Besides all insights collected until now, we have some key points in mind:

  • One of our fears is a misuse by reporting cases that really aren’t bullying.
  • In the other hand, we need to boost reporting bullying cases.
  • We must try to make only one app with different profiles and don’t four different apps (for school, teachers, parents and kids)

To solve them, we have to empathize with users, so we made 2 x Empathy Maps Canvas (harassed and stalker), 4 x User Personas and 4 x User Journey / Protojourney (harassed and stalker kids, teacher and parents).

From left to right: Empathy Map, that’s me making the User Persona, all the 4 User Personas
Examples of two protojourney for harassed and stalker children.

New insights:

  • Stalker is another harassed kid but in other scope.
  • Anonymous top-collaborators ranking (you won’t see others kids names but yours and your position).
  • Misuse will be punished loosing points in rank.
  • Would be awesome if students themselves can participate and stop bullying when teachers are arriving or they can’t arrive on time:
  • The best option seems to be a device in the wrist (like a watch or activity smartband) to be quickly accessible to report as soon as possible in a bullying situation.

5. Ideas

One day I had an idea about what name could have this project: Watcher, because the device is also a watch… so you’ll see documents with this first name proposition.

We have a good baseline to start a project, but we need to think and start another divergence stage. This time we did a mindmap (but this time it didn’t get me another good ideas), user stories, user flow, a sitemap…

From left to right: Mindmap, User Stories, User Flow

Insights or problems?

  • We didn’t new good fresh ideas. It seems like all possibilities are over the table already.
  • User flow and Sitemap put us a problem over the table: we have 3 or 4 different kind of entities (students, teachers, schools and parents) interacting with two different devices (the watch and the mobile app), so we have a difficult flow.

6. Scope of the project

Even with those problems, we had to choose what features we think are better for our project, so we finished the Affinity diagram grouping all features and ideas and then we selected them in order of priority by doing the MoSCoW method. This was the result:

Left: Affinity Diagram — Right: MoSCoW

7. Prototyping: whoops… problems here!

At this point we made a lot of sketches and low-fi wireframes, but in a wrong way… When we started this project we thought in this app like a communication platform between school-teachers-parents-kids. However, we realized that schools usually use web platforms like Alexia or Educamos to manage the school and they don’t want more apps. So we decided to focus in the real problem, the bullying, and make an anti-bullying app.

Another problem was the content of the app itself… Well, we have a device to report bullying, but what do we have in the mobile app? What content do we have for parents and teachers? Have we got a panel for schools? We have a user flow for those kids who have mobile and those who haven’t.

Deadline is getting closer, but we have enough time to solve it…right?

I wanted to know if this project has sense and I made a video of a “real” situation of the flow with some Playmobil and this project has sense for us and could be a great solution if we can make kids use it devices well!

HEY!!! Please, activate subtitles! :)

SOLUTION IS TO ITERATE! UX is all about iterations trying to get the best solution as possible, so let’s make it!!

Our next stations will be Architecture Information and UI. This time we have validated the idea and it could be great, but we have work to do! Nobody said this would be easy! :)

Read this post to know about the UI design process of this project!