My Problem of Practice has been to find a better way to define the role of the school counselor. How can school counselors strengthen their profession so that it has not been broadened to the point of saturation? Can they do all they are required to do in a comprehensive program and still be effective?
I created a prototype of a school counselor app in concept.ly. For my test, I had 3 users to test. School counselors who control the app and then students and parents who would use the app.
School Counselor Report:
For the school counselor test I created a blog post, Test Mode of a School Counselor App, describing the app in a video. Then I had links to try the app in an elementary version and a high school version. Finally, there was a Google survey to fill out for feedback. I also offered a free college or RAMP packet as an incentive.
I sent the blog post out through my Twitter PLN and a school counselor discussion board. I was amazed by the response! Someone influential in my Twitter PLN sent it out on their Facebook page. In just three days my stats showed that there were over 600 views. On my Youtube account there were 115 views of the video and over 200 clicks on the concept.ly site. The discussion board had 30 views and I had requests for a free packet from 4 school counselors.
This was so exciting but at the same time I felt a lot of pressure that the test needed to be perfect. There were a lot of school counselors reviewing my test app and I felt vulnerable to my mistakes and the process.
The survey results produced positive results. Check them out here. I had 17 responses with 65% saying they would use the app. They wanted to know when it was going to be released. Wow! They also had questions that I wish I could have answered. Using a survey reached a lot of school counselors but I would have liked to answer questions and dig deeper with their responses.
I wondered what wasn’t being said? Should there have been more responses? I had an insight when viewing a high school Twitter chat. School Counselors can’t even get their students to go to their website to get information how was an app going to do this? I can see reservations in this respect so the app would really need to appeal to students wanting to go to the app. I think a voice search with a Siri style conversation would help connect them to information. Also, making sure it is easy to use and graphically appealing.
Next, I wanted to get feedback from students on my school counselor app. I decided to test on elementary students because I had the easiest access to this age group. I created an elementary version that connected directly to the school they attended. I used my son’s school and my neighbor kids as users.
I created a protocol that I could use as a script as I choose to do one-on-one interviews. Click here to view the final revised script. The first test I did was on my 2nd grade son. I videotaped his hands during the process. After the test, I realized I wasn’t testing the ability of the app but I was testing if the app would be beneficial to students. I did not videotape after the first interview and updated the script to test if the student would use the app to connect to school rather than testing for usability of the app.
Here is the video of my first student interview using the app:
I have to admit it was painful to get brutal honesty about how the app worked. That honesty really helped to know what needed to be fixed. I could not minimize bias with my son because he knew I created the app. For the other students I told them a “team” created the app.
I was only able to interview 4 students. I hand wrote my observations and their feedback. I found that they did not understand the purpose of the app. This was disappointing but would help me to update a new version. They liked when a link took them to games or a familiar area such as the lunch menu.
In the elementary version I mixed student information with parent information. Also, my son’s school doesn’t have a school counselor so I had to use other schools to link information. The feedback gave me pause to think if elementary students would use this app. A glimmer of hope came when my son continued to use the app after he understood it. He even wanted to add the Book Fair link after coming home with the flyer.
If I could test again I would like to connect with a school counseling program in a high school, middle school, and elementary school. I would use each of their programs to create 3 prototypes. Then I would test the prototype on the school counselors and students. This would give me the most relevant feedback.
I was unable to test on parents but that would be the next level of testing.
I have been researching on how to get the idea of an app to the development stage. The U.S. Department of Education released this guide to help in this process. I also participated in two Twitter chats on their guide, #edtechbridge and #edtechchat.
I learned about startup weekends and accelerator/incubator events. Also, I connected with two teachers that created apps and had started their own business (still while teaching full-time!) Their stories are inspirational but also disappointing. They had to create their own business to get their app to development. The cost is around $70,000. One is going this summer to try to get $500,000 to develop another app. Through their struggles I realized I would only pursue development of an app if I could work with a large company. (ASCA, Google, U.S. Department of Ed, etc.)
The Design Thinking process has been amazing! After all of this thinking I created another idea that I will need to take through the design thinking process. Connecting all of the dots I see the need for programmers. I also see the need for moms to have flexibility in a job that would offer financial stability and contributions towards edtech apps.
Next up…..Moms Who Code (small business).
I am a stay-at-home mom that left a wonderful career to be with my children the last four years. I am now looking to go back. I’ve had a hard time finding the flexibility and financial compensation to entice me back.
I am not sure which direction to take next but I will be seriously considering pursuing either the app development through a large corporation or a small business!
P.S. I would like to thank that very powerful Twitter/Facebook person! I am so grateful for your influence. Thank you!