Being Me

The landing view for a student when they log into Being Me.
Client

Institute of Play

Sector

Educational, Social, Non-Profit

Summary

Being me is a school-based social network that provides a fun, safe, and supportive space for teen students to share their skills and feelings.

My Role

UX Designer and Information Architect

Collaborators

I collaborated with a remote team of educators, game designers, and developers.

Time Frame

1 Year – 2/2009 – 2/2010 (contract)

Background

The public view page of the Being Me social network.

What is Being Me?

Being Me is an online school-based social network that provides a fun, safe, and supportive space for teen students to share their skills and feelings. The social network supports the Quest to Learn school’s innovative game-based and system thinking approach to learning. 

Quest to Learn is a 6th–12th grades public school with an innovative educational philosophy developed by top educators and game theorists at the Institute of Play. The school uses game-based learning to develop skills in critical thinking and problem-solving.

The Problem

A daily view of the community’s range of emotional states created by anonymous self-reporting. A student is able to see how many others in the community share the same emotions. 

Problem to Solve

How to create a fun, safe, and supportive space that will foster sustained and authentic engagement among the student community?

Solution

Build a secure social network platform that utilizes game mechanics, system thinking, and emotional psychology to foster community engagement across student and staff roles through skill sharing, academic support, and wellness activities.

Results

The gaming aspects of the social network proved to encourage immediate experimentation and engagement. The ability to anonymously share and see the emotional state of the community resulted in increased open and transparent conversations with counselors and peers.

The Process

User Tasks

From workshops, with students and educators, I created a series of user tasks for each role. The user tasks were successfully used to ensure the needs of the various members of the community were met in the Being Me product. 

As a Being Me user, I want to have a private, safe space so I can express my thoughts and reflect on my emotions without fear of others finding.

As a Being Me user, I want to have access to skill and emotional resources so that I can successfully layout plans to achieve.

As a Being Me user, I want to experiment with ideas, projects, and practices so that I can try on different roles without being penalized.

As a Being Me user, I want to see evidence of my progress and choices so that I can see how much I’ve grown over time.

A flow diagram for emoji creator for the designer audience.

Functional Flows

After workshops with educators, students, and developers, I created a series of functional flows to visualize the complex network in an understandable format.

  • I created variations of the flow depending on the audience.
  • Technical flows for the developers and illustrative flows for educators and designers.
  • These artifacts were successful ensuring that each audience had the information they needed to understand the scope and do their job whether designing curriculum or implementing functionality.
An example of the flow diagram for the educators.
An example of a detailed flow diagram for educators.
My due diligence in mapping all the authentication processes and various databases was instrumental in ensuring we holistically met all data security standards for minors.

Wireframes

As remote distributed team we worked asynchronously using Agile methodologies. In my role, I was responsible for ensuring that all team members had the information they need to do their job.

The key communication documents were:

  • Templated layouts for the CMS development
  • Annotated wireframes for the FEDs and developers
  • Annotated comps for the game and visual designers
An example of the template layouts for the content management system.
An example annotated wireframes for front-end developers. 
An example of annotated comps for the visual designers. 

The Results

Results

Being me became a trusted space for students, teachers, and administrators to share skills and foster personal expression community-wide.

A book was published detailing the research and development of Quest to Learn school. It includes the successful integration of Being Me into the school’s curriculum and community.

Salen, K. (2011). Quest to learn: Developing the school for digital kids. MIT Press.