Student Reflections Three Quarters In.

Thoughts and Experiences from the Team

For the last seven months, classmates and I have been learning and using several tools to research the topic of college persistence among working students. Early on in the research process, we found several tools and methodologies foundational to help up with research and make sense of the data that we saw. Among them were a contextual inquiry/interviews, ethnographic research, concept maps, compelling storytelling, service slices, dissecting a system, talk aloud method, and semantic zooms. From this data, we developed several crucial insight of which we would use to inspire design ideas.
In a couple of brainstorming session, we used reframing methods and tools including a 2×2 diagram to decide on which design ideas we would like to build out. In building out these design solutions, we used techniques including storyboarding, mapping a user journey, service blueprint, lean canvases, theory of change canvases, and wireframing.
In the process of research, building prototypes, and testing out the ideas we have learned so much and gained some insights we’d like to share. In all this sharing of ideas and experiences, a foundational skill is to listen. But there is a difference between listening to respond and listening to understand. Most of us listen to respond, but by listening to understand we are better able to incorporate the needs, we heard into our design. Additionally, as we are building and testing out design ideas, we’ve found value in failing fast and early then iterating as a way to make sure we are developing the right solution for the audience.


We exist to create a world where working students have the option to prioritize school over work, because working students face a daily decision between financing living expenses, meeting academic requirements all while experiencing cognitive overload.

To do that, we need to answer the question:

  • Why do donors find giving to a financially burdened student valuable?
  • What drives people to donate?
  • What is the thinking that makes people donate one-time vs consistently (on a subscription model)?
  • How would students spend the money?
  • What would students spend that money on?
  • How do we measure and track the impact of a donation?
  • What would make a donor stop giving?
  • Who donors are more likely to give to?
  • Would students be willing to ask their social network for financial support?

So this week we will:

  • Conduct interviews with people who have donated to students, or in general
  • Refine our service blueprint for the ideal state.

In the Near Future

Our team project is called FundEDU, a platform to connect working students that are strained financially with donors. This platform attempts to help student persist in school by helping cognitively fatigued working students be able to focus on school.

For the future of FundEDU we hope by the end of April we would have worked rigorously to get FundEDU to a place where it could be pitched to the investor. After AC4D, our personal goals is to join the world of design as interaction designers at an agency and have the opportunity to sharpen the research, sense-making and creation skills we have learned.

Paving Our Path

To get closer to our goals for FundEDU we intend to work on the following between now and the end of April.

  • Find users and keep solution flexible; change it to fit user needs.
  • Use tools and methodologies learned to outline the user flow, components of the business and how it relates, create a prototype that can be taken to users and tested, reach out to the public to look for users.
  • Validate/learn, validate/learn, validate/learn.

Individually, we are focusing our energy to continue growing in the following areas and ability:

  • Form an opinion and insert it
  • Continuous learning about design and topics
  • Take responsibility for designs
  • Focus on the user’s experience — empathize
  • Keep larger context in mind as we create things for individuals to use
  • Keep asking ourselves why something should exist in the world