Our first design sprint happened during our fourth week of class. The situation we were given: not all Elon students have cars or licenses, and the BioBus runs very limited routes to very specific areas of the community. There is also no public transportation to campus, though we have many community members who work on for Elon. Finally, for people who can get to Elon, parking is very hard to find.
Here’s how our teams used design thinking to find solutions to these issues!
Team 1: Elena, Charlie, Claire, Leah
On this day, the team generated a list of questions to ask Elon students and staff about transportation and access to parking. Then, they went out into Moseley Student Center, Acorn Coffee shop, The Oak House, and more places around campus to interview folks. The team developed a deeper understanding of what problems the students and staff were experiencing.
On day two, it was the team’s job to define what the actual problem was. By looking at their notes, they generated a board full of post-its, brainstorming different issues to focus on. They also generated user stories based on how different individuals would experience transportation. Eventually, the issues were in five different categories. The one they picked: Elon students are not aware of their transportation options when needing to get to and from campus.
For day three, it was time to ideate and brainstorm various ways to make transportation options known on campus. The team generated over forty ideas, with a great majority of them focused on marketing strategies, while others looked at incentives, student ambassadors, and electronic access to public transportation. The two they eventually honed in on: the development of a school-wide app that encompasses live transportation information amongst other features, and an improved bike-sharing program for the campus.
On prototyping day, the team got together and began designing the app on a paper prototype, and started building a model of the new bike program using legos. The app included the ability check live bus routes and maps, sign into Elon Ontrack, check Phoenix Card balances, view dining hall menus, submit requests to SGA, see parking rules, log in to Moodle, and more. For the “Zagster 2.0”, they came up with a system that included several kiosks around campus to check out bikes from (rather than App use), bike locks on each vehicle, better information and advertising, and the necessity to lock into a kiosk to end the time of usage (to encourage accountability).
. . .
By Friday, the teams had gathered a group of students to share their prototypes with. They got very positive feedback on the App design, with the test group expressing their strong desire for it to exist. They liked that it addressed awareness of BioBus routes while also addressing other student needs. For the updated bike share program, the test group ended up leading the team to the real issue: students don’t want bikes because Elon’s campus is not bikeable. The team realized the actual issue, and decided if they had another Sprint week to tackle that issue, they’d change Elon’s sidewalks and pathways to be more accommodating for bikes.
Team 2: Katherine, Laurel, Mikey, Sabrina
For the first twenty minutes of this day, the team generated a list of questions to ask members of the Elon population about having cars on campus, their experience with parking, and their experience with alternative transport. They then split up into groups and interviewed members of campus police as well as a number of students. Gathering this information allowed one of the main problems regarding transportation at Elon, the Bio Bus, to surface.
The team was tasked with defining the problem. They created several profiles and theoretical challenges they had to face. They created three profiles: a single mom, with two kids, who wanted to go to Smitty’s, but faced parking and safety issues; a transfer students, with few friends, no car, and wanted to go downtown; a first-year, with no car who wanted to volunteer at the animal shelter. After mapping the steps each person would take in their day, the team identified that the main issues were safety issues, parking issues, and reliable/streamline transportation issues. Next, the team created “How might we…” questions. These questions ask us to identify problems without converging on solutions. We generated many questions, but decided to go into the community and ask questions regarding scheduling and awareness. The questions are as follows: How familiar are you with where the Bio Bus runs/schedule? Where you would look for the routes/schedule? Do you know where you can park on campus?
On the third day, the team used multiple Design Thinking techniques to brainstorm ideas to address the issue of Bio Busawareness on campus. They found that their final products—an interactive map of the Bio Bus to be placed in Moseley (or another central location on campus) along with “subway” style Bio Bus schedule board at each bus stop, and coupons for riding the Bio Bus—were a combination of their expensive, cheap, ridiculous, and not impossible ideas.
The team hit the ground running on the fourth day. They created a lego/paper prototype of the interactive map and Bio Bus schedule board, as well as paper prototypes for the coupons, keeping the interactivity of the prototypes in mind.
The final day of the sprint was dedicated to receiving feedback and critique from their audience members (fellow students invited by both teams). Generally speaking, the audience gave positive feedback to the teams ideas (especially the coupons); however, the audience also confessed that they probably would not have used either of the Bio Bus maps/schedule systems because it was more convenient to drive their car. The team then realized that in order to develop awareness for the Bio Bus, marketability to a greater portion of the Elon population—including those with cars on campus—could be crucial.
February 26th – March 2nd
Our second design sprint happened during our fifth week of class. This time, we were given a different format—the Google Ventures model, as outlined in Sprint!—but we were not given a situation to address. Instead, we were challenged to empathize with Elon community members and frame our own problem.
Here’s how our teams used design thinking to find solutions to these issues!
Team 1: Katherine, Charlie, Elena, Sabrina
After choosing the topic of Mental Health, the team went through the Sprint checklist for Monday: they wrote a long-term goal regarding generating positive conversation around mental health, listed answers to the question How could we fail?, and then spoke with people in the Elon community to ask about their knowledge and relationship with mental health. Once they had done so, they generated How Might We questions.
The team voted on their How Might We questions to narrow in on their concept, ultimately choosing the following: How might we train students and community members to help someone experiencing a mental health crisis? Next, the team went through the Four-Step Sketch to brainstorm how they could address this question. They created sticky notes for each of these ideas, placed them on their white board, and categorized them as they saw fit (i.e. Resources, Events/Workshops, Mobile Apps, Awareness, and Partnerships). Crazy 8s was the most successful processes in the Four-Step Sketch. Each member took eight minutes to sketch variations on a sticky note idea that the team had come up with. They used a sheet of paper folded it into eight equal parts, and sketched out their ideas. By the end of the day, the team had three thoughtful ideas for how to address the problem: a mobile application, a pocket handbook/journal, and different ideas for a pop-up event surrounding mental health.
Today, the team started by voting on the Crazy 8s sketches. Following the Sprint checklist, they went through a five-step selection and critique process where they fine-tuned the ideas previously created. One of the processes required the creator of sketch to remain silent, letting their sketch speak for itself. This helped the group address any potential gaps in their target audience’s understanding. The group chose to combine three of their Crazy 8s sketches into one idea: A “Mental Health Day” event on campus called “Take a Mental Health Day,” a pocket handbook/journal (including coloring book pages, empty pages for writing, and resources for helping oneself and others work through a mental health crisis, among other things) for each attendee, as well as messages placed in bottles around campus for people to read and write kind notes. The team then storyboarded the experience for a potential Mental Health Day participant, highlighting the various booths and tables available.
On prototyping day, the team came together to design a miniature model of the event, complete with a reading nook, a pet-an-animal area, and massage station, among others. The team also created an example of their pocket journal idea. All of these prototypes were intended to give the audience a feel for what each idea would include and how they could interact with them.
Test day helped the team think about what they could have done differently on prototyping day. Phillip reminded them that an important part of prototyping—interactivity—should determine the best prototype for the team’s project/product, meaning that the “prototype” might not need to be a tangible object, but rather an experience.
Team 2: Mikey, Laurel, Claire, Leah
On day 1 of the week, the team got together and brainstormed different issues in the area related to Elon and the community surrounding it. They came up with an assortment of problems, including social culture on campus in relation to Fraternity and Sorority life, meal plan impact on community engagement, lack of physical activity and health education in local schools, access to health care on campus vs off campus, and Elon’s engagement with school sporting events. They landed on the meal plan issue, and off they went with mapping a student’s experience with food at school. They also reached out to different stakeholders related to this issue.
For day 2, the team began focusing on potential solutions to the problem of low community engagement amongst Elon students outside of the university. They believed that meal plans hindered many from ever exploring off campus food options, because they are required and because of how expensive they are. They generated many potential solutions by way of a sticky note brainstorming session. These solutions included a Phoenix Cash/student discount at certain restaurants, punch cards and other incentives to explore off campus, bringing restaurants on campus for a pop-up event, and hosting Phoenix Extravaganza during the day for first-years instead of at night for more visibility. The team left all of these ideas on the table, thinking about what their best two would be to work on for the next day
On day 3, the team decided to go after two different solutions: creating a student discount at local restaurants near campus, as well as hosting a pop-up farmers market style event with local eateries providing samples that showcase their cuisines. Team members took this day to think about more details for each idea and to fine-tune how they wanted them to be. They did this by using Crazy 8 sketches, an activity where one take 8 minutes to draw 8 sketches that further the original idea they had. It asks them to push beyond their initial idea and to make it even better and more innovative. After doing this, team members presented their ideas to each other and then voted on the two that they liked best. One was an updated version of the farmer’s market idea, and the other was an updated version of the discount program.
On day 4, the team modeled both of their ideas using large user story maps to create someone’s experience all the way from hearing about the event/discount program to using them, and what that process looked like. They used legos to build the set-up of the farmer’s market, and used paper and markers to draw out the discount program along with rules for it. The discount program would essentially involve showing your Phoenix Card at participating restaurants and getting a flat percentage discount every time.
On the final day, the team presented their solutions to about 10 other students to get feedback on their prototypes. They realized that Elon was already doing a similar program where they bring local restaurants into dining halls for a day and invite food trucks to come on campus each Wednesday. However, the discount program was very well received, and most students agreed that they would definitely go out to lunch/dinner around campus more often if there was some sort of student discount. Phillip also reminded the team that in the future, interactive prototypes can be really effective, so they thought about how they would change it. Perhaps they’d create flyers and signs for a new discount program, or actually set up a miniature farmer’s market in the studio for users to actually touch and experience.