Problem: High school students are entering their college-level courses unprepared due to a lack of exposure to design tools and fundamentals, resulting in decreased student retention rates and higher dropout rates at creative universities.
Solution: A virtual pre-college program for high schoolers, giving them ideas of what colleges and design-based majors will lead to their dream careers– and training them with the latest design skills they need to know before starting college. 

Design Team: Megan Slavich, Dillon Hickey, Emily Brown, Jennifer Yacoub, and Professor Christine Fish.

Timeline: 10 weeks (Winter 2021)

Role: Design Research, Design Methods,Branding, Design, UX/UI
The Process
01 Network Analysis
We began our project by brainstorming various industries and networks to identify potential areas for our project focus. We narrowed it down to three concepts: High School Education, Design Education, Executive Corporate Training. We then identified key competitors in these three industries and compared their costs against the level of expertise that they offer.
02 Network Design Concept
We defined the user groups for each concept, highlighted key takeaways from each industry, and created an opportunity analysis chart to select the concept we will be focusing on.
2x2 Axis Chart & Opportunity Analysis
Concept Selection: Pre-College Creative Education
Value Proposition
For high school students who want to be prepared for university-level creative education, (our) pre-college educational platform will prepare students with the up-to-date creative tools they need to know for college-level classes to help them succeed and be agile in the fast-growing industry. 
We do this by partnering with universities to create a unique framework for high school students by offering a platform that is tailored to the student’s interests in creative needs within their intended area of study, unlike similar after-school and summer programs such as SCAD’s “Rising Star” program or the YMCA offerings.
Our program will help high schoolers to get the knowledge of digital products and fundamentals for creative education before entering college. The program will increase access to digital design products and creative education to position students for success.
Creative Brief
Problem Statement:
High school students are entering their college-level courses unprepared due to a lack of exposure to design tools and fundamentals, resulting in decreased student retention rates and higher dropout rates at creative universities.
Opportunity Statement:
To create a pre-college educational platform that bridges the skill gap between high schools and universities.
Who is it for?
For high school students who want to be prepared for university-level creative education and for universities who want to better prepare prospective students.
What is it?
A pre-college educational platform that consists of creative tools, lessons, and educators necessary for success.
Why are we doing it?
To bridge the skill gap between high school and creative university curriculums for fundamental preparedness. 
Where is it?
Virtually-based platform in the USA.
03 Define Network Users
Through surveys and in-depth interviews, our group sought to understand this skill gap by gaining a better understanding of the following potential user groups: Students in High School, Underclassman Design Students, University professors, and university staff. 

We collected the data on our miro board to understand the user's pain points and identify patterns to understand the insights on a deeper level. We created an affinity map, empathy maps, and personas.
Empathy Map
Affinity Map
04 Competitor Research & Analysis
Two of our top competitors in the market are Blackboard and Kahoot. As they represent two different approaches to education technology, we analyzed their business model to uncover their strengths and weaknesses in this section. 
Comparing and contrasting business models gave insight on how to cultivate our program platform into a feasible solution. Exploring business models of similar programs to the one we are creating gives us an opportunity to take the strengths of the respective models and implement them in our project as we progress further into our solution specifications.
We wanted to highlight weaknesses to compare how our business model will fit into the market that we are targeting. How can we ensure that our program strengths outweigh weaknesses?
05 Business Model Generation
Following the insights that we gained from our competitor analysis and ongoing information collection from user research, we began idea evaluation exercises. We used the creative matrix to brainstorm features and ideas based on the personas that we have created. Then by using the Value vs. Difficulty chart we categorized our ideas into four categories: luxuries, strategic wins, quick wins, and high value. 
Using those conclusions, we then developed a large-scale business model of our company, KERN. We then translated our model into a 17 Step Zag and ACBQ.
06 Defining User Needs
The two user groups who will be using the digital products throughout the course will be high school students and professors. Therefore, we decided to focus on these two user groups by updating the empathy maps and creating user scenarios.  This led us to two prototypes: one is mobile for high school students and the other is a website for professors. 
We did not include university staff in this unit, due to their lack of direct interaction with the platform. Though they remain an important customer and partner to deliver Kern, their primary activity with Kern is in terms of purchasing and coordinating the deployment of the product, not interacting with the digital products directly.
User Scenario 
07 Prototyping and Brand Development
Our goal was to refer back to our personas, empathy maps, and feedback to create a mood board and fine-tune our branding. 
With our two user scenarios and wireframes established our group was able to prototype our two user scenarios: a student signing up and completing a Kern course and a professor creating and managing a Kern course.
08 Network Sales Pitch
Our goal was to create a sales pitch video for investors that promotes our digital product "KERN". This video demonstrates how Kern will be used by students and professors.  Kern's goal is to create an interactive experience for users that fosters growth for students while they learn about their major of interest. 
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