From idea to prototype

From the idiate process we created our idea an appstore for teachers with a forum where they can discuss and recommend apps among themselves. In addition to this we wanted to include the pupils in the process by giving them access to the app store with the ability to suggest apps and leave reviews.

We started by brainstorming functionality that we wanted for our app store. We used a black board to conceptualize the feel of our app, with the different pages that were necessary. For each page we discussed how we could implement the functionality we wanted. Having a visual wireframe representation of the app helped us create a more solid plan and make it easier to not forget something and to not create something with flawed user experience.

We used Adobe XD to create the actual prototype, because it’s easier and faster to implement the functionality we wanted on Adobe XD then on paper. We also tried Sketch but Adobe XD felt more intuitive since we have experience from other Adobe programs. In Adobe XD you can easily link pages together, this made it easy to show what happens when someone clicks a button in the app, which is important because we want the prototype to be high fidelity and testable. Adobe XD also makes the prototype look more like a real app store than when you use a pen and paper.

As a starting point we knew the user had to log into our app, we planned to let the user login using something similar to “feide login”. For the prototype we have created two different login buttons to open the app in teacher or student mode. This would usually happen depending on the account login.

When the teacher logs in the frontpage for apps is the startpage. This page contains a list of featured apps where the teacher can click to view the page for one app. We wanted to combine the app store with a community were teachers could discuss apps and teaching methods. To make the community accessible at all times the frontpage also includes a discussion part where relevant discussions appear. The relevancy of the discussion and featured apps is based on the account and earlier searches and downloaded apps.

From the front page the teacher can view one of the featured discussions or view other discussions by clicking one of the courses/categories on the bottom of the page. The teacher can also enter the front page of the forum by clicking the “Community” button at the very bottom. To view an app the teacher can either search/browse or click on of the featured apps. On the single app page the teacher can view ratings, mentions in the community and have the opportunity to add a review.

The teacher can also add the app to a folder for later use, download it or push it to a user group. A group is usually a classroom or some other predefined group. When the teacher pushes the app to a group the app will be downloaded on the users device the next time it connects to the school network or possibly any network. If a teacher works at a school who does not support the “push to all”-functionality he or she can send a reference link to the schools IT manager wich again can install the app on the iPads on behalf of the teacher.

We wanted to have a “pupil version” of the apps too, where pupils can send in app suggestions to the teacher. These app suggestions could be apps that already are in the app store, and apps that are not in the app store.

We also want the pupils to be able to write reviews of the apps, therefore they also need to be able to browse all the apps in the app store. The part that the pupils doesn’t need is the community part of the app store. There is also some other functionality we didn’t want to have in the “pupil version” like the Download and Push button. Pupils can also suggest app that they think should be available in the app store for both teachers and pupils.

Video prototype:

In the video version of our prototype we wanted to show functionality in a real life situation. Since the ability for pupils to suggest apps for their teacher is one of the most important functions in the pupil version we wanted to show that. We asked Tores daughter to play the pupils, Tore the teacher. We think that this video, in an effective way, explains some of the most important aspects of our solution. The pupil suggest an app, the teaches receives the suggestion and can read other teachers experiences. When he decides to allow this app he easily can push it to the pupils iPad.


  1. Pupils comes home from school and starts on her homework. Her teacher has asked the class to make a cartoon about what they did this weekend. He has asked them to do it using pen and paper.
  2. The pupil has used  cartoon app on her dads iPad earlier and feels frustrated about having to do this homework the old way.
  3. She decides to suggest an app for here teacher, hoping he will let her use that to complete the homework.
  4. She logs on to the app store and post the suggestion.
  5. Teacher receives the suggestion and decides to take a closer look at the app in question.
  6. He reads reviews and other teachers experience with the app.
  7. He decides that its was a good and relevant suggestion.
  8. The teacher pushes the app to the whole class with a notion that they can use this app to complete the homework, if they want.
  9. The pupil completes here homework using the iPad she got from school.

Here is a video showing more functionality:

Here you can test our prototype online:

School app & forum

Screenshots from our prototype:

Update on our IDEATE process

After getting some guidance from our supervisor during our supervision we decided to change our main idea (IDEATE) to an appstore for teachers with a forum where they can discuss and recommend apps among themselves.

Generating ideas

We started our IDEATE process with going back to our empathy stage and looking at the problems, and the problem statement we ended up with in our previous task. We then brainstormed using the ‘How Might We’ technique for half an hour. One of the students in our group wrote all of our HMW’s ideas up on the blackboard.

After our half an hour was up, we moved on to brainstorming possible digital solutions for our ‘HMW’-questions. We spent an hour on this stage. We then voted on our three favorite solutions. These ideas were the ones that got the most votes:

  • Control interface that let teacher turn on and off and assign app access
  • Use more playful apps in teaching, like Minecraft
  • AI that guide pupils to relevant apps and help pupils stay focused



HMW improve pupils focus?

HMW make pupils stay on task?

HMW remove distractions?

HMW improve benefits of iPad?

HMW make the apps feel more exciting? 

HMW make iPads more controllable?

HMW let teachers assign apps?

HMW improve collaboration?

HMW make communication more efficient?

HMW block distractive website?

HMW avoid pupils watching each others screen?

HMW let pupils help each other to avoid distractions?

HMW make school the favorite part of the day?

HMW make learning more playful?

HMW make the teacher more interesting?

HMW create rewards for completing task?

HMW make it more rewarding to stay on task?

HMW the distractions as motivation?


Possible digital solutions for our ‘HMW’-questions:

Integrated screen(iPad) in each desk, remote controlled by teacher.

Control interface that let tacher turn on and off, and assign app access.

Autonome robots that distribute and collect iPads. They also control pupils use and report violations.

Reward program for pupils that follow teachers instructions. 

Use more playful apps in teaching, like Minecraft.

AI that guide pupils to relevant apps and help pupils stay focused.

Filter for web-browsing that teacher can control.

Involve pupils more in development of learning apps.

Implement elements from popular games in learning. Make educational apps in collaboration with game designers.

Promote and facilitate more collaboration between pupils. 

Privacy filter on all screens.

Defining our research questions

We started by externalising our data from our online research, the expert interview and cultural probes for teachers and pupils. We went through all our information and wrote down what we felt was most relevant. In this way we got everything out of our computers and heads. It felt easier to see it on paper before continuing the process.

We decided to use the empathy map method to gain a deeper insight into our users needs and realize our insights. With the user in focus we can get a better understanding of the person we are designing for. With an empathy map we can synthesise our observations from the literature search and interview and probes. This can help us get new insights about our user and situation. The four different parts (say, think, need and feel) of the empathy map lets us focus on different aspects of the information.

For our project we have teachers, pupils and school management as users. The different personas we have created for the empathy map can be used to to find differences and this can help create some insights. We ended up making three different empathy maps, one for each user group.

We started with the unpack procedure. What do our users say, feel, do and think?

We started writing sticky notes with things we found when looking through the research, expert interview and our probes.

We then started placing it on our empathy maps. the first one we made on cardboard, the second and third map we made on a chalkboard. All the sticky notes were placed in the category we felt in belonged.

Please see the pictures below for a graphic presentations our all our empathy maps.

One problem that continues to reappear is the lack of control over the pupils activity on their iPad. Both pupils and teachers mentioned how easy it was to get distracted during class because of all the available apps on the iPads. 

The teachers need to be able to control the pupils iPad’s, because the pupils get easily distracted by all the available apps on the iPad.

Empathy map from expert interview
Empathy map from cultural probe from students.

Empathy map from cultural probe from teachers.


Cultural Probes

The users for our probes are 5th grade pupils at Bogstad skole in Oslo. We also included a probe meant for teachers at the same school. Together these two user groups could give us valuable insight into how iPads are being used in education and how it affects communication flow in the classroom. We chose Bogstad skole because it is one of the schools in Norway with most experience using iPads in education. We made an appointment with the headmaster Karoline Hoel who we also met when we delivered the porbes at school.

Bogstad skole in Oslo where we handed out our probes.

The goal of our cultural probes were to get feedback from both teachers and pupils on their experience using iPads at school. How does it affect their communication and what are the benefits and challenges? We also wanted to know if they had any ideas on improvements.
We designed our probes to be an easy, interactive and playful method for the kids to give us information about their user experience. We made a scrapbook for them to draw and use clip art to express themselves. With the freedom they get from drawing the keywords sets the subject matter. In that way they could share how they see the iPad as a tool for learning in their “own language” while we still get relevant information. For the teachers we created a simple word cloud with keyword from our interview. The teachers were encouraged to comment on the keywords they felt most relevant for them. In this way it felt more inviting and free than a questionnaire. We also included a chocolate treat for the teachers.

All the teachers at this school is iPad certified. They have to do a online course where they get insight into the different solutions available.
    Our probes consisted of:

  • Two mailboxes with customized top. One for the teachers and one for the pupils. The mailbox for the teachers had more information about our project and described what we wanted them to do. The box for the kids were simpler and with less information.
  • For the kids: An envelope containing; A scrapbook with a front page where we described two simple tasks we wanted them to do. The second page was page with emojis they could use and two blank pages for 1) expressing what they liked/disliked about iPads and 2) drawing/writing they’re app-idea. The probeds also included laminated keywords carefully selected for them to use in their scrapbook.
  • Empty iPad with a word cloud inviting the teachers to comment words they felt most relevant and/or they had an opinion about.
    Chocolate treat for the teachers. We put this, and the pages with word cloud, inside the mailbox.

Her are pictures of our probes:

The way the probes were delivered to the school. Two «mailboxes».

Scrapbook for the pupils:

Front page of the scrapbook for the pupils
Emojis for the pupils to express themselves.
The first «assignment» for the kids. Whats good and bad about using iPads in school?
The second «assignment». Whats your app idea?

Wordcloud the teachers:

Wordcloud for the teachers. They were asked to comment the keywords they felt most relevant for them.

Result of the scrapbook:


All the answers from the pupils first assignment. We read through and found what was the most supprising and gave us insight.

App idea:

All the answers from the pupils second assignment. Not many had a idea but the once who did is represented here. We read through and made comments.

Result from the teachers:

All the answers from the teachers. A total of 13 teachers answered. We read through and found what was the most supprising and gave us insight.

Documentation of the literature search

Our goal for the literature search was to figure out if there’s enough information about the topic to actually write about it. We also wanted to find out what the major challenges and benefits are after the introduction of tablets (iPads) in elementary classrooms. How has the information flow between teacher and student has changed and in what way can it be improved?

The keywords we decided to use were:

iPad, Student, Teacher, elementary school, classroom, information flow, homework, learning, communication, creativity, tablet, educational, education.

We used Google-scholar, Google news search, Web of Science, Education Research Complete and Eric as search engines.

We divided the group into two parts, one group searched in scientific search engines and the rest did searches in news articles and from other, non-scientific sources. In this way we wanted to avoid getting the same search results. In our literature research we have focused on iPad over other touchpads because iPad has dominated the education market starting early with a 75% worldwide and 90% control in Canada in 2013. Norwegian schools has also chosen iPads as the platform to use in classrooms.

During our search we found a lot of interesting articles that appealed to us, both scientific and from media sites. We also realised that most of the research about tablets, and especially iPads in the classroom, isn’t about information flow directly. Although much of the information we found can be relevant for our project because it describes different challenges and or situations where flow of information is important and can be improved by new solutions.

Literature review

While teaching previously was passive and based on receiving information from the teacher learning today is about interaction, creativity and participation in the classroom. The introduction of digital platforms such as the iPad helps to reinforce this trend, according to a report from Telemark University College. Here scientist followed the introduction of iPads to all the pupils in 6th grade at Stathelle Primary School. Among the findings made during the two-year pilot project was that students through the iPad became more active in their own learning process. They could search the web for sources themselves and evaluate the sources’ relevance to the task. It also became easier for the students to organize and take care of the learning material, which was a great help for the students’ overview. On the basis of this, the researchers who followed the project concluded that this contributed to better adapted education and that the students got more benefit from the training provided. The researchers also found that Ipad made it easier to fully integrate all students into the classroom. Those with special needs got more organized for this with the help of the iPad. (Kongsgården, Midtbø 2014).

In Bærum, every pupil in elementary school has their own iPad. According to a report published on the municipality’s website the effort to give every pupil a Ipad isn’t about technology. Its about new ways of learning. According to schools enrolled in the pilot program the relationship between pupil and teacher has changed. Communication has become more imminent. They can give feedback to the student almost in real time. The teachers can also adapt and differentiate teaching based on each pupils special needs. The teachers also see more motivate and creative pupils who gets more learning outcome. (Bærum municipality, 2015).

Project leader for iPad in Bærum municipality, Christian Sørbye Larsen, says to the Norwegian daily Aftenposten that there were protest from both parents and teachers before introducing the device in the classroom. Among the positive elements are more efficient students, better collaboration and better feedback.  (Nipen, 2019).

The reason why iPads has become popular in educational is how it makes for new ways of communication between students and between student and teacher. By using the built in communication possibilities the teacher can have a face-to-face with students who are sick or away from school. (Apple support pages).

There are challenges to the introduction of technology in classrooms. Education are based on a constructivist approach (Henderson, Yeow, 2012). It’s based on the idea that knowledge is not a substance that is transferred from teachers to students, but that knowledge is constructed by students themselves when they interact with objects in their environment. Children learn by doing and construct their own knowledge by actively performing a task.

Educational technology as iPads and tablets, on the other hand, is based on behaviorist perspective. It posits that learning is manifested by change in behavior and that the environment determines these changes.

“It is only relatively recently that educational technology has been able to support a constructivist approach. Smaller devices are better able to facilitate social collaboration than PCs which users must use singly, and the rise of more social application software enables much better opportunities for collaboration than were possible in the past.”

The size of the iPad promotes collaboration. It stimulates to face-to-face social interaction between children (Hourcade, Beitler, Cormenzana, Flores, Druin, 2009). (Leichtenstern, Vogt, 2007).

A school in New Zealand was one of the first to start using iPads in education. Scientist did a case study to understand their experiences (Henderson, Yeow, 2012). According to two of the teachers the iPad has allowed learning to become more accessible and productive. They found that it allows information to be easily searched and accessed quicker at any given location in the classroom. For example, as described by the teacher and senior teacher, students will not need to wait for the desktop computer or netbook to boot when they log in as they previously did, but simply press the iPad’s button and tap on the web browser. Accessibility has also empowered students through not only allowing them to view a wider variety of information to enhance their learning and productivity, but also provides students with a sense of pride in their work, as the teacher explains:

“The ease of access to information makes a huge difference… The standard of their presentation has hugely improved. They have a lot more pride in it so they’re putting a lot more time into it… The presentations most students created I was amazed, they just looked so impressive… and the information was of a higher level as well” (section 5.3, Henderson, Yeow, 2012)

One issue brought up by the senior teacher is that they are aware that the iPad is a difficult tool to be used for creating content but easy to consume, due to the nature of it. However, it was made apparent by the senior teacher that the iPad should not be used as an exclusive tool in education but to be used alongside others:

“It’s difficult to create content, it’s easy to consume… I’m not convinced yet that typing out a big document is easy on the iPad as it is on a computer… I don’t think it couldn’t replace everything we certainly wouldn’t ditch everything in place of the iPads” (section 5.7. Henderson, Yeow, 2012).

Not all students readily adopt the iPad. In the interview it was discussed by the teacher that there was a case where a student chose to use the school’s netbooks rather than the iPad:

“I’ve only got one student in my class who if there is a choice will go for the laptop … its new technology, she’s a bit scared” (section 5.7. Henderson, Yeow, 2012).

Report by the Canada Research Chair in Technologies in Education based on a survey of 6,057 students and 302 teachers in Quebec, Canada. With this survey they wanted to gain a better understanding of how students and teachers use the iPad in class, as well as the associated benefits and challenges. To limit the scope of the survey other touchpads were not included. This is because iPad is the most used and developed platform in the education market controlling 75 % of the education market worldwide and 90% in canada in 2013. The study found that “On average, the teachers felt that they were moderately satisfied with using the iPad in class (average score of 3 out of a maximum of 5). The students felt that they were moderately to very satisfied with using the iPad in class (average score of 3.6 out of a maximum of 5).” When students were  asked for words describing the experience of using ipads the main responses were “Fun, useful, useless and portable”. They note in the report that one one answered that it helped them learn.

In addition to finding out how satisfied the students and teachers were using the ipad they wanted to understand how the ipad was used in the classroom and outside it to improve learning. They found that for a 60 minutes lecture 88.5% of students reported using the ipad for 30 minutes or more. This varied based on the subject with math and science seeing less use. Part of understanding how ipad can improve learning is to look at what applications the students use. The most used apps were eTextbook, text processing and not taking apps. Later teachers were asked to suggest improvements and many wanted a list of useful apps and training in using the apps.

When asked how the students were using the iPad for educational purposes doing school work was the most popular answer mostly interacting with eTextbooks. Internet searches were also frequent and students said that they appreciated being able to decide how they search for information  they needed. Despite being asked about educational purposes the third most frequent answer was games. Some students said it worked as a reward for doing work and motivated. At the same time this speaks to the distraction the ipad introduced.

Outside of school, the most frequent uses were social media (facebook, iMessage). Second most frequent answer was homework. Some students said that using iMessage made it easier to ask other students about homework. One student said that before he never took out his school books when he had finished homework but now the ipad is always out.

When students and teachers were asked about challenges using the iPad the most frequent answer was distraction. A lot less frequent was difficulty writing, difficulty organizing and unsuitable textbooks. The extent to which the ipad was a distraction became clear in interviews with teachers and students. Students found it hard to pay attention when receiving messages on facebook and seeing other students playing games. The limitations of the eTextbooks was another point of frustration with problems such as needing to be online or exercises that did not work.

In a study of young children using multimodal devices to help them become literate in the 21st century it was found that tablets help children thrive in their learning.

Since children responds very well to change and adapts quickly, as well as they’re easily intrigued by new ideas and forms of learning methods, it makes the tablet an excellent addition to teaching. There’s evidence that the quality of learning increases when children use tablets as they collaborate and communicate with one another, as well as the independent learning thrives.

Teachers are eagerly using tablets in their literacy programs. It seems to be easier to tailor a solution to a single students learning difficulties, as the children can use different apps, i.e. LetterWorks to help enhance their struggles with reading. This broadens the specter of possibilities and resources for both teacher and student. (Nicola J. Yelland, 2018).

The digital abilities of teachers are not equal, which may have a significant impact on differences within students learning environment. A study showed that the abilities differed so much as it gave a result of 65.9% teachers belonging to the intermediate level. 26.1% were placed below, and 8% above intermediate.

The teachers with higher understanding of tablets spent more hours to support and develop their subjects, as well as higher usage of tablets in the classroom itself. The tablets may therefore be difficult to incorporate and use in classes depending on the each teachers digital abilities. (Cantú-Ballesteros, L. Urías-Murrieta, M. Figueroa-Rodríguez, S. Salazar-Lugo, G. M., 2017).

There was a project that investigates if tablets can enable students with additional needs to access the curriculum in Australia. In many situations some apps were specifically selected for individual children. One app might gave motivational value to a specific student, meanwhile that may not be as relevant for another student. The reason for the difference of relevance had to do with the student’s interests. (Watts,  Brennan & Phelps, 2012)

«Much of the success of iPad integration was felt to depend on the enthusiasm, creativity and pedagogical skill of the TA and teachers involved as they needto be able to identify how they can use the iPad productively to support individual students’ learning. If this ‘spark’ isn’t there the educational effectiveness of the iPads is not maximised. «(Watts,  Brennan & Phelps, 2012, p. 8)

At MHOC the TA’s got access to a Ipad before the project. They were more responsive and familiar to be able to suggest apps in class, then the TA’s at JPC who did not get access to a Ipad before the project. (Watts,  Brennan & Phelps, 2012)

«A key learning, then, was that TAs needed good access to the iPads to become familiar with them and to help identify apps that would be most suitable for individual students and to be able to respond quickly in a classroom setting to identify the best  app tosupport learning at any particular time.»  (Watts, Brennan & Phelps, 2012, p. 8 )

Two teachers took on the challenge of improving elementary reading. They decided to use Ipad’s to reach this goal, though it was a step into the unknown.

There were some noisy apps that made some distraction from the learning environment. They solved this by purchasing headphones. (Getting & Swainey, 2018)


Last year New York Times (Bowles, New York Times 2018)  had an article about digital gap between rich and poor kids. But not as you would expect. While America’s public schools are still promoting devices with screen, private schools for rich kids are banning screens from class altogether.

“Silicon Valley’s parents increasingly panic over the impact screens have on their children and move toward screen-free lifestyles, worries over a new digital divide are rising. It could happen that the children of poorer and middle-class parents will be raised by screens, while the children of Silicon Valley’s elite will be going back to wooden toys and the luxury of human interaction.”

In the article, Kirstin Stecher and her husband, who works as an engineer at Facebook, are explaining how they raise their kids almost completely screen-free.

“Is this coming from a place of information — like, we know a lot about these screens,” she said. “Or is it coming from a place of privilege, that we don’t need them as badly?

Challenges and what needs to be improved

From the different articles we have found some challenges has become apparent. Some of the challenges have already been worked on and the information flow has been improved.
One challenge that was mentioned many times was the teacher and the students lack of experience using the touchpad. Teachers wanting more training and guidelines for using ipads in class and developing assignments that is designed to be done using an iPad. Since the individual teachers has different experiences with tablets, it should be required to take annual courses so that all the teachers and therefore students will have the same starting point.

For many students the iPad can be a distraction with access to games, videos and social media. It can also be distracting for the rest of the class if one student watches a video or play games. This was described in older articles and one improvement in the experience using iPads was to give the teacher more control of the students iPads. Today there are available apps created by apple to give the teacher the option to limit what the student can do on the ipad during class and many other improvements in creating a more efficient experience.

Another challenge that has become apparent is the need for a framework designed for teaching pre installed on the devices. Today many hybrid solutions make many of the tasks more complicated and time demanding than necessary. A solution designed for information flow, cooperation, sharing and feedback between teacher and student, and between the students themselves, would be a great contribution to promoting better learning and interaction with technology in classrooms.

There are multiple solutions for the use of tablets, especially iPads. Apples own app-store offers many different apps for teaching, from reading digital school-books to solving math questions. Apple has also launched several projects that has as a main goal to introduce apple products in the earliest stages of elementary school, such as specific features like Guided Access or Apple’s own apps Shared iPad, Apple School Manager, ClassKit and Schoolwork. All these apps does only work on Apples own devices and is under Apple control. The Norwegian school system should consider  to atleast make some own solutions that doesn’t depend on Apples framework. Considering Apples price range, som schools may prefer tablets using the Android software. These tablets includes Google’s answer to Apples imperium of school-related content, such as Google Classrooms which now connects with all Google-apps like Google Spreadsheets, Google Calendars, Google Docs and a diverse array of other apps.

Even though Apple and Google both have their own solutions to make the teacher and pupils learning experience easier, the goal is the same. The apps and software lets teachers limit the available apps, keep track of the pupils progress, share documents and send notifications to the entire class.




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