Team:  Jasper O’Leary (Lead), Ashleigh Cushman, Elizabeth Lin, Christian Le

When we discuss problems in education, socioeconomic and political factors spring to mind. However, we frequently overlook the most important factor: the individual student. Even as California’s continued fiscal disinvestment from public education becomes an increasing concern, we too often fail to see students as individuals and not statistics. Does each student know how to link his/her interests and education to future careers? Are students with financial concerns aware of scholarships and of flexible programs provided by their community college? Finally, how can students connect their education to the world around them?

Our mobile application addresses these issues and integrates them into a single experience that accounts for the user’s personal and academic needs, allows exploration of educational options and resources, and links the user to friends and educators. The app would employ data visualization (for example, a node-branch style display for different pathways) to enable students to easily compare and plan possible paths on their own terms. Once students are more aware of the academic steps (e.g. “Complete IGETC curriculum”) necessary for various paths, they will more readily take steps to achieve them.

The mobile aspect of the app would allow users to connect with friends and stay updated on the steps that their friends are taking. In addition, the app would integrate GPS information to personalize resources available to students based on their location. These two factors would work to transform the myriad of standardized tests, career options, scholarships, school requirements, and more from an imposing set of rules into a fresh and modern challenge to navigate with friends. One possible implementation could be a card-based interface, where job opportunities, counseling sessions, and free tutoring events would be presented to the users as they needed them, and would change based on both the options they have selected so far and on the recommendations of their friends.

This concept carries the possibility to revolutionize how educators connect with their students: on a dynamic and individualized level as opposed to the standards-focused style that has come to leave many students less equipped for their aspirations than they could be. Furthermore, children and young adults have become perhaps more accommodated to recent technology than any other age group. Delivering a social and visual experience to students ensures that the importance of their own education and the means to improve their academic experience remain relevant to their lives. Above all, we hope that putting students in full control of their education will begin to alleviate larger issues with education in society — not from the top down, but from the students themselves.