This is how to design an app that motivates students to participate
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Image Credit: To-Be Education

Building a product that students and teachers find engaging means going out and listening to the needs, and sometimes letting the children take the lead

While increasing student participation is an obvious goal for most teachers, growing numbers of pupils in a classroom makes this ever-growing challenge even more cumbersome. Traditional methods of teaching, namely in the form of frontal instruction or lectures make this task almost impossible.

Active learning is a sure way to increase student performance, and one of the best ways to do that is to get them to participate, but getting them to do that is quite tricky. Ideally, the goal of increasing participation is not to have every student participate in the same way or at the same rate, but, it is to create an environment in which all students have the opportunity to explore different ideas and viewpoints.

To-Be Education aims to solve this by offering a platform that facilitates group discussions about relevant issues from different perspectives. The people at To-Be wanted students to engage by researching subjects, explaining them to others, advocating, and analyzing the conversation so that they can make informed decisions.
Teachers and students alike can create games on any subject, and publish them for all to use. Teachers can choose a game that is relevant to a topic that they’re exploring, and run it during class.

During the game, each student gets assigned a character that represents a different viewpoint on a particular topic. They are given resources to help them understand the topic so that they can then present their point of view to others through an unfolding, interactive narrative.

Creating small study groups

Image Credit: To-Be Education

In order to improve the quality of the conversation, To-Be designed a dashboard for the teacher that automatically divides the classroom into groups of four or five. This, combined with student anonymity, really boosts participation, especially for introverts that otherwise would have a difficult time sharing their thoughts and opinions. Teachers can follow the feeds and engage with the groups when they see that their help is needed.

From a product design perspective, Red-id made certain to bring the teachers and students into the design as possible, working to address their needs. By bringing the platform into the classroom at very early stages of the product’s design, we leveraged on the know-how and insights of both students and teachers, and understood the physical limitations of the classroom itself. A lot of what we learned from being in classrooms directly affected the planning and design of the features, and actually, the product itself.

Some teachers have even taken this a step further by incorporating collaboration between the students. In such instances, students co-author presentations, articles, and even create posters.

Image Credit: To-Be Education

Adding to the increasing centrality of the students in the creation process, To-Be is reporting an ever-growing trend of games created by students, not teachers. Often, teachers segment classes into small groups and these groups use the game wizard to create a background story for a relevant topic, and four or five characters that represent different viewpoints on it. After creating the games, the entire class participates in the games that were created, and gives feedback.

Currently, To-Be Education’s app is being featured in institutions, from grade school to universities, all over Israel. In two school years, they’ve managed to reach five percent of the teachers in the country.

With this in their pocket, To-Be hopes to do the same in the United States bringing their approach to learning to other English speaking countries over the course of their roll out.

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Orit Zetouni Sade

About Orit Zetouni Sade


Partner at RED-id, a UX specialist, and lecturer at leading colleges and universities in Israel on UX related subjects. She has an MA in Interaction Design and over 15 years of experience in creating delightful digital experiences. Orit speaks and runs workshops all over the world.

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