Learnings from our first pilot
In May 2019, we tested the first version of our mobile app with 14 school districts in California. The purpose of the app is to teach school staff the skills and confidence to manage type 1 diabetes at school.
Our goal was to learn — and learn we did.
Problem We’re Solving
An increasing number of kids are diagnosed with chronic health issues like diabetes each year. At school, kids with these health issues rely on school staff to care for them during the school day. But with a school nurse ratio of 2,502:1 in California (Source: KidsData.Org, 2017) and 67% of CA school districts not employing a school nurse (Source: SRI International, 2015), schools are failing to provide the health support students need. Ultimately, this is impacting their academics, health, and overall quality of life.
To better support these students, schools rely on unlicensed staff to provide care. But because this isn’t their primary job and they aren’t trained health staff, learning the required skills is a challenge.
What we Tested
We’re seeking to change this: by educating unlicensed staff at school with a fun and engaging mobile app experience mapped to the skills they need to learn and perform confidently, ultimately benefiting the child.
We tested a mobile app that teaches school staff how to manage diabetes. We know first-hand how hard it is to learn these skills, so we built the app to be engaging and fun, all while teaching the core skills our users need. We based our content on the National Diabetes Education Program. The content itself isn’t novel — it’s diabetes best practice. But the way we’ve structured it and the design behind it is our secret sauce. In the app, learning content is organized by key skill area. Starting with the basics, users level-up and incrementally learn the skills they’ll need to be successful.
THE LEARNING EXPERIENCE
We break down each unit into bite-sized chunks, starting with the skills that are required based on the individual’s role. For example, for a teacher with a student with diabetes, recognizing signs of low blood sugar (sweaty, shaky, dizzy) and what to do (giving sugar) are a must to keeping the student safe in the classroom.
For this test, we wanted to throw a lot of darts at the dartboard. We added a variety of content, including:
- Learning Content
- Empathy-building scenarios
What We Learned
WHAT WENT WELL
- We love our users. They’re passionate, caring, and go above and beyond each day to help students.
- We set a goal of building a real mobile app — and delivered.
- Universally, “fun” and “user-friendly” was feedback we heard from users.
- Each of the pilot sites really love the problem we’re solving — and are eager to find a better solution.
- We experienced what it takes to distribute our app to users. In this case, we used TestFlight, which is Apple’s distribution platform for beta apps.
- Our empathy-building activities. For many school staff, just knowing the right way to communicate with a student has a profound impact on the student’s outlook. We’re really excited about this one.
OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPROVE:
- Users had a hard time navigating within lessons. This was nearly-universal. We need to rethink our navigation.
- Affordances on buttons to identify the action. We over-used icons in some places to the point that it looked good but performed badly.
- Users were pretty anxious when using the app. We set out to make learning both fun but challenging — but not to the point that we add stress! We need to keep working at this with our users.
- Downloading the app. This is partially because we used TestFlight, partially because remembering an Apple Password is hard!
- Content presentation. Our approach still needs to be refined to make it truly useful and accessible.
We’re really happy with how the pilot went. We sought to learn from our users in the real world and they taught us more than we could have imagined. But we won’t sugar coat it: we have a LONG way to go to deliver a useful product.
The good news? We now have a foundation to build from. We have real user feedback that we’re using to improve for v2 of the product.
What’s next? We’re taking all the great feedback we received to build a new version that we will launch in the fall with a broader test group. If you’re interested in learning more, send us an email.