Client: KYTABU INC, is a leading e-learning service provider that leverages the power of technology, content creators, and mobile devices, to provide a visually & engaging learning experience for students.
Tonee Ndungu the CEO, founded Kytabu in 2012 with an Android application for phones and tablets that enabled teachers and students to rent curriculum textbooks using mobile money.
- Timeline: 3 months (Handing off to devs is still in the process)
- Tools: Adobe XD. Pen & Paper, Whimsical.
- Status: In development
- Michael Kitticai – Brainstorming, User Research, Journey Mapping, UI Design, Wireframing, prototyping, Handshaking (handing off) with Devs, case studies curator & writer.
- Tonee Ndung’u – Ideation, Brainstorming, project lead
- Mourine Kariuki – Case study co-writer
Competency-Based Curriculum or CBC as it’s known is the new educational system replacing the 8-4-4 curriculum in Kenya. It aims to focus more on students and equip them with relevant knowledge and skills which will enable them to thrive in this technological & social age.
So then you might ask, “why then build an app for teachers if your ‘primary’ (no pun) focus is the students?”
To that, I respond with a riddle, ‘what came first the chicken or the egg?’
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that to deal with an issue sufficiently, we need to tackle it in chronological order.
The answer to education lies in the educators. To improve the learner’s experience, you need to equip those that offer the learning experience. A good education can not exist without good educators. Some may call them teachers, but we see them for who they are, our Nation’s Heroes. And every hero requires a superpower. Hodari is that.
Excessive workload to Teachers.
CBC education reform has hyper-focused on students without paying much regard to teachers. According to a study done by Diana Marion.
- In public schools, the majority of the teachers had classes of over 50 students 10 % have classes between 31-50 students, with no teacher handling a class of fewer than 10 learners. 1
- In addition, for a system that requires a maximum of 25 students per teacher to be effective, Kenyan teachers are handling double if not triple this number of students.
- The new system comes with excessive paperwork. Every day, teachers are required to fill out ‘assessment books’ for each individual student (remember avg. 40 students per class), after every lesson, detailing their level of understanding per topic covered that day. Now there’s nothing wrong with that (which is actually commendable) but doing it manually, one book after the other, can be exhausting.
- Untrained Teachers. “…… The government did not consider teacher training and provision of adequate facilities related to the execution of this curriculum,” Sammy Bor KNUT Uasin Gishu Branch Executive Secretary. Source: Peoples Daily 20th, 2021 2
Clearly, there is an imbalance in the system and there was a need to provide a solution within the current framework.
What if teachers could plan lessons, input & track students’ progress, manage their duties all from the palm of their hands?
A mobile app to ease the workload
Would they not have a burden lifted, have more time, be more skilled, to offer the best for your child?
I am pleased to introduce (cue in drum rolls 🥁🥁🥁) Hodari (Swahili word meaning brave), a mobile application that works as a teacher’s productivity tool and a training platform. Its principal aim is to equip and enable those bravely forming our society & future.
Tap to zoom image
Tap to zoom image
How Hodari's UX was designed
Throughout ideation, development, and execution, we had the teachers in mind. So we started first by asking ourselves:
- Q1. What problem is in the CBC system; in relation to teachers?
- Q2. How do we approach the problem effectively?
- Q3. How do we infuse our specialty; tech and e-learning into the solution?
- Q4. How do we make it accessible to as many Kenyan teachers as possible?
- Q5. How do we compile this compact curriculum and package it in a tool that’ll be easy and intuitive for a ‘non-techy’ teacher living in the rural area to use it?
- Q6. And which platform is easily accessible for most teachers, a website? computer software? Web-based app? Or a mobile app?
From the research done by KYTABU Inc. earlier:
- Very few teachers have personal computers especially in the rural areas, in fact, very few schools in the rural area have computer labs. “Some schools face infrastructure challenges, including electricity, many teachers are not familiar with the use of projectors.” Peoples Daily
- However, smartphone devices are very common in most areas, in fact, big-screen phones. And most Teachers use WhatsApp and Facebook quite often.
- So, it was a no-brainer, A smartphone app would be the best platform for this product! Plus it’s readily available, portable, and easily accessible anywhere.
- With that in mind, we went with a simple, touch-responsive solution – Hodari mobile application.
User: Primary school teacher in public school (at the moment)
Demographics: Schools mainly in the low-income areas and rural areas
Teaching Tools: Gov’t teaching guide books, students textbooks No digital learning tools
- Accomplish their daily teaching task with ease,
- Reduce their workload of assessing hundreds of books per day. Less paperwork.
- Focus more on bigger priorities, such as preparing for lessons and teaching, than spending a lot of time in marking books
- Time consuming while marking books
- Uneven Teacher to student ratio 1:50 leading to little to no individual focus on student
App Features & Walk Through
Once the Teacher has signed In/logged in, they’re taken to the homepage. The app has a simple, engaging, and functional interface. Once Teachers logged in, the user lands on the beautifully designed homepage with an overview of the app functions. From Learning Areas/ Subjects (center), Menu Tab (left), Navigation (bottom) & Notifications (right), navigation is made easy and straightforward.
The goal for the home page was to make it simple and at the same time accessible to almost all options.
So how did I achieve this? Easy, only show the first priority buttons on the front page. Then hide the other second priority on the hamburger menu and in the seal logo at the bottom navigation bar popup.
- Assessment Forms (Lesson Plan, Record of work covered, schemes of work)
- Learning areas (subjects taught)
- Notification tab
- User profile info
- All the Assessment forms
- Terms & Conditions etc
3rd Priority (logo popup at the navbar)
- Share, and see the report
- Add student
Learning Areas/ Subjects Navigation
Once a teacher clicks on a learning area (subject) e.g English, their entire student data shows up under the relevant grade.
Choose a learning area -> Student’s grade -> Their name -> Term -> Topic -> Start evaluating their performance that day.
The topics are laid out in bits all the teacher needs to do is tick the appropriate grading boxes and tap next until they’re done with that day’s activities.
This is faster than having to print multiple sheets for many students, filling each out on all topics & lessons covered then compiling and filing for reference.
Rather than letting teachers slave away and harm the planet while we are at it (excessive printed sheets), we housed all duties in a single app. This means training, lesson plans, and students’ assessments.
“How much better could it get?…”
Glad you asked. The cherry on top is that the app has an inbuilt school curriculum schedule. This helps teachers pace themselves and view their daily/weekly and monthly teaching schedules and topics. Talk about efficiency.
Challenges & Lessons
One of the challenges during Ideation was the content layout. There’s very little to borrow on current CBC apps available. So, to come up with a simple UI yet that can accommodate compact information like, forms, calendars, books, media libraries was a bit challenging.
LESSON: Trust the process
It can be tempting to jump straight to UI design without going through the whiteboarding process. A simple thing as defining the user journey, sketching paper wireframes, and trying to think like a teacher (empathetic) came in handy.
Initial UI sketches (tap to zoom)
Designing mobile responsive tables
Assessment form layout: How do you structure content on a table, whose width is A4 paper width to fit on a mobile screen?
Content in table form (tap to zoom)
Option B, as shown below was the most practical option in terms of accessibilty
Scrolling table content from right to left would be tedious to the user, and they probably forget what they read by the time they’re navigating to the other end.
Putting all the content in a vertical layout makes it easy to read and no need to memorize questions before assessing. Navigating to the next question was made by using ‘next’ and ‘previous’ buttons at the bottom.
I worry if I continue, you’d think I am overselling it. So I’ve created a prototype link for you to test it out and verify if it really is what I am making it out to be.
*This prototype might not load on certain mobile browsers. If you’re having problems loading it, try it on this link or use a computer browser.