Overview
There has been a decline in in-person field trips. This transition was made worse due to COVID-19 and lack of school funding. Field trips are traditionally an integral and necessary part of children's education.

In this project, I set out to explore alternative solutions to substitute in-person field trips. I want to provide similar field trip experiences remotely while also stimulating students' desire to learn.
My Role
User Research,
User Interviews,
Sketching, Prototyping
Timeline
15 weeks

1.1 Problem Discovery

Since the pandemic outbreak in 2020, most schools moved online and field trips were canceled.

In the winter of 2021, I was talking to an eighth-grader Ashton and he was telling me how bumped he was because he hadn't been on field trips in so long because of covid and he doesn't remember the last time he went on a field trip with school.

This conversation got me thinking, why are field trips important in education, and what do students miss out when they can't go on field trips either because of covid or other reasons?

1.2 THE Problem

Schools fail to provide equal resources and learning opportunities for students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Field trips are great learning experiences because they stimulate interest and motivation in science, strengthen observation and perception skills and add relevance to learning and interrelationships.

1.3 Deck Research

First, before jumping into brainstorming ideas for final product, I wanted to learn more about current situations that students are facing.

A field trip is a visit to an area outside of the normal classroom where children can try new things, have different experiences, and learn valuable lessons.*

Field trips can provide firsthand experiences, stimulate interest and motivation, add relevance to learning and interrelationships, and promote personal and social developments.*

In fact, in 2009, a student survey showed that 53.78% of students strongly agree that field trips have helped to increase their knowledge base (Rahman & Spafford, 2009)*.

So, why are there there fewer field trips now?

Covid-19

“Surveys in May showed that 95% to 99% of teachers were facilitating remote instruction.”

Fundings

“Anything that isn’t directly related to test scores doesn’t attract as much of schools' attention or resources.”

1.4 Competitive Research

Since there are lots of existing online education services, I wanted to explore what was currently successful and could be improved. 

IXL K-12 Education Activities

Pro: A variety of classes, and bring learning activities; Con: Only learning knowledge, not providing an experience.

San Diego Zoo Virtual Field Trip

Pro: Designed for student learning, include printable activities; Con: Not a hand on immersive experience, could feel like an assignment

The Flick Collection Virtual Tour

Pro: visual representation that feel like in the museum, easy to look up art pieces’ info; Con: Limited viewpoint, can not navigate in the gallery

The competitions had created little to no environment to spark students’ curiosity in real life settings.

1.5 User Research

After learning more about the current obstacles about field trips, I wanted to hear first hand target audience’s experiences to identify the pain points towards their needs.

I interviewed 6 people with field trip experiences from age of 13 to 22. I asked them questions including:

I learned that my interviewees all agree that their field trip experiences helped stimulate their interests and motivations in different settings.

After the interviews, I created an affinity map that helps me better understand the user pain points.

1.6 Actionable Insights & Challenges

From users interviews, I gathered 8 meta insights and 8 HMW statements.

The meta insights help us describe broader behaviors, pain points, needs, etc and how might we statements help to rephrase these findings into opportunities for prototyping.

2.1 GENERATING IDEAS

With the research findings in mind, I wanted to explore as many ideas as possible. So I start to sketch out as ideas for the HMW statements as possiable.

2.2 LOW-FI PROTOTYPING

After brainstorming, we picked out our favorite sketches and created low-fi prototypes to test for accountability. Each prototype shows one feature of the whole solution.

Prototypes from left to right features: Virtual Reality Tours, Dedicated Website, Activity Dashboard, Connect with an Expert and Gamified Experience.

Then I conducted four user interviews for feedback. The interviewees age ranged from 18 to 25, and have had or have been achieving a variety of learning goals.

I wanted to know if my prototypes make sense to the users without any previous background knowledge of this project. In the discussion, I asked them questions like:

After reviewing the notes and synthesizing, here are the findings for each prototype:

Takeaways

2.3 MID-FI PROTOTYPING

We increased the fidelity of the design so we can test more complex ideas and interactions. We took the parts that worked for the users and combined them into two polarizing prototypes to elicit bigger reactions

1. Virtual Reality Tour

2. Gamified Interactive Experience

User Interviews

I conducted another round of user interviews with a different group of interviewees to avoid any crossover or contamination from low-fi user interviews.

Key Learnings

1. Virtual Reality Tour

✅ Love the overall visually immersive experience
✅ Keep users interested and engaged
⛔️ Don’t want to switch between desktop and VR
⛔️ Users want more control to navigate

2. Gamified Interactive Experience

✅ Practical and convenient to learn a language
✅ Task motivated
⛔️ Don’t feel like a trip experience
⛔️ Feel like they are on a stressful tutor website

2.4 Implementations for High-Fi

Based on the findings from both rounds of interviews, we decided to go with Virtual Reality Tours as the main solution.

We will be implementing the following ideas moving into high-fidelity prototypes.

NEXT STEP

Final Product

@Yining Zhu 2022