How might we promote learning through intergenerational curated connections?
Design for an audience of users over the age of 65 exploring their relationship with education providing an innovative product that will better their lives.
Phase 1 of the research was dedicated to exploratory thinking.
Our key finding was that elders gravitate towards informal learning motivated by the desire to connect with loved ones and stay relevant.
We also learned there is still a gap in the market in formal education for 65+.
However, the gain of connection to loved ones guided us to the second phase of our research and soon became the focus of our solution.
Phase 2 of the project was dedicated to immersive thinking.
We explored during ideation both routes: that of physical space and a product. Both alternatives were inspired by the age group who associated learning, emotional connection and play to memorable locations and objects (contrary to newer generations that focus on concepts and digital interactions).
The competitive analysis informed us of a clear gap in the market that had a lower barrier to entry: A family oriented solution for elders to share with grandchildren and younger children and teenagers to learn from their elders. This was also part of a go-to-market strategy that would allow us to create a name for our product in this space and expand later on.
A crucial design criteria became to be able to keep memories. As soon as this product started focusing on family, the need to keep physical elements became more valuable to our interviewees.
To obtain these findings and architect our design criteria, we conducted first-person interviews with 20 key stakeholders to identify needs, interviewed experts in the neuroscience and learning techniques for the elderly, tracked our risks and assumptions, performed an in-depth competitive analysis of other players in the education sector, developed 5 personas, 10 user journeys, brainstormed possible solutions, developed and tested our hypotheses through several low fidelity prototypes and one high fidelity prototype and pilot experience.
- Through a connection with grandparents, children develop a sense of confidence and empathy
- Overcome the myth that there is a “Generation War” between baby boomers and millennials
- Elders can help socialize children, teach them empathy and character
- Games help prevent memory loss
- Having “someone to learn with” is the key motivator for older generations to be active.
- Loneliness leads to isolation, depression and a decrease in cognitive health.
- Elders feel irrelevant and as technology advances, they feel at a disadvantage that is more present every day.
- Elders rarely feel they are able to teach something to their grandchildren.
- Millennials don't know how to approach elders but believe they could learn from them.
Our design solution, Artifact, is a board game that improves intergenerational understanding facilitation conversation and appreciation across generations by creating a framework for both elderly and millennials to be able to learn, train their brain flexibility and memory, teach and share.
Artifact addresses common pain points of isolation, lack of connection and depression through the creation of a framework that enables individuals across generations to both receive and provide tangible support through learning and intergenerational conversations.
Through fun and engaging gameplay, players are challenged to recall pertinent memories of their past, make-up musical renditions on the spot, or collaborate with another player to co-create new and imaginative stories together.
(from brainstorming session - customer experience sketching)
The key takeaway of this product is the physical artifact and the longevity of the moments shared and recorded in the notebooks.
The initial purchase includes 4 booklets. As time evolves users can order more notebooks and cards that are subject specific or more relevant to current pop-culture.
The board game is accompanied by an online version where players are encouraged to archive their drawings, poems, and videos and share with a wider community.
Throughout our research digital savviness was definitely something that put our cohorts of personas at different levels.
It was important for this reason to focus on the web desktop version of our digital touchpoint, much more accessible to the older generations.
Learnings & Conclusion
We initiated this process with the assumption that "education" should be associated with academic achievements, and realized that was a narrow focus on the experience of "learning".
It is important to always detect your own assumptions and cognitive biases and dig deeper to find the experience a product provides.
Different audiences might feel differently about interactions often due to what is familiar to them and what their instinctive perspective allows them to connect with without further effort. When designing a product, it is important to find the commonalities between different personas' perspectives and use those to inspire new opportunities for your product to be unique and truly valuable.
Finally, the biggest learning of all is that you can learn a lot from your elders and that each project can bring you closer to understanding humanity and what moves us.