​​​​​​​Created at CIID (Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design)
Course: Final Project (Solo Project)
Course Date: In between Nov 2020 - Feb 2021 | Production Timeline: 9 weeks
Hardware: Arduino Uno, Velostat pressure sensor, SonyA7S, Voigtlander 40mm F1.4, Prusa 3D Printer, silicon
Software: Figma, Framer, P5.js, Multiplayer.js, Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, After Effects, Cinema4D
Teachers’ burnout is a recurring challenge in many teachers’ life. Problematic students, difficult parents, excessive workloads, lack of resources, are some of the challenges that contribute to teachers feeling burnout. Great support from the management and colleagues can help teachers in dealing with their daily frustrations. But with the countless daily problems, sometimes it’s difficult for the management to prioritize which problems are more alarming.
Ballrum is an internal communication platform between teachers and school management to flag, prioritize, and solve recurring problems together.
Teachers can express their frustrations in the group feed and other teachers can leave their tips or comments. They can also help by upvoting the post, which makes the circle bigger in the feed, making it easier for the management to prioritize.
The app comes with a glowing stress ball to help teachers externalize their feelings physically. It records teachers' individual and collective usage data which gives the management indication of the overall frustration level of the team.
It can also be paired with downloadable exercises and games to help relieve teachers' stress.
The project started with some desk research about teachers burnout, followed by remote interviews with 6 teachers, 1 education expert, 1 founder of Reggio Emilia inspired school, 1 principal, 1 curriculum coordinator, and 1 system designer.
The aim is to understand: Teachers’ thoughts about burnout, their pain points in teaching, how each stakeholder affect each others in the school ecosystem, the way they cope with the situation, etc. 
2 Key insights from the interviews:
- Apart from the excessive workloads, the continuous frustration of being unheard and lack of support system from the management can lead to teachers’ burnout.
- Burnout can be eased or even prevented when teachers have a channel to vent their frustrations and know that they are being listened to and supported.
And with those 2 insights, I formulated a How Might We statement:
How might we enable a platform for teachers to relieve their frustrations and get support from their management and colleagues?

In CIID we often brainstorm with a lot of people, the goal is to get as many ideas and point of views as we can. After that we can do internal brainstorming and synthesis to further any good ideas, or mix and match to come up with a new idea.
First few iterations of the idea:
At this point, I realized my idea is pretty much like a forum. So I wanted to do a research on what do teachers like about forums, what can I apply to my product and what I should avoid. Therefore, I created a small Google form survey and spread it to bunch of teachers. I also did some social listening through teachers subreddit groups, to find out what kind of things do teachers post there, and what kind of behaviour I would expect from them in the forum-like platforms.
Analysing the market with the 2x2 diagram, I realised that there is no app out there that focuses on teachers' wellness, there are a lot of wellness or emotional journaling app, but none of them are specialised for teachers. And most of the education related app are focusing on classroom productivity, and the relationships are between teachers, students, and parents. There seems to be an opportunity area somewhere in the middle. 
My prototyping process started with making low fidelity greyscale prototype in Figma, the goal is to test the basic core interaction of the app. Keeping it low fidelity enable the user testers to not focus on the design and rather just focus on the main function of the app. I proceed to test this prototype with 3 teachers. I also did a sacrificial scenario to test whether the teachers like the idea of having a physical stressball. I showed the two images of the stressball and asked them to imagine having it to control the interaction in the app.
Some insights that I got from these user testings:
- Limit characters of posting (Like Twitter) to avoid the platform becoming a place for long and draggy ranting zone
- Stressball is a great way to externalize your feelings
- Mood checking feature is necessary and it should show insights on how to deal with that emotions.
After those user testings, I was convinced that the stressball will add value to the product, therefore I went to build the stressball.
- The first iteration was using a masking tape as a base shape. I sticked velostat pressure sensor on the side of the masking tape, wired it onto Arduino, and connected it to P5.js sketch.
- After that system worked, I replaced the masking tape with a real stressball.
- Finally, I used Multiplayer.js to embed the P5.js sketch onto the phone. Without the multiplayer system, the P5 sketch won't connect wirelessly to the phone.
One of the thing that CIID taught us is to keep on iterating and testing our concept. So I went to do another user-testing to find out how people feel about the stressball.
Some important insights that I got out of the user-testings:
- Perhaps the stressball can record user's data of when, how hard, how long, and how often teachers use the stressball
- Stressball can be used for grounding exercise, to relieve stress
- Stressball can glow of vibrate when receiving notification
- Description in the stress level might be better than percentage as the numbers don't really show how you really feel
Building up on the insights that I got from the user-testing, I went to try to play with different materials to allow me to put led light inside the ball. One material that I ended up using is a rubbery silicon material. This was a really fun part of the prototyping process as I got to try making a mold for the first time. The mold was 3D printed, and the silicon was made by combining two different type of chemical liquid. The result is really satisfying as the led light can come through nicely from the inside.
Next, I went to improve the UI of the app. It's important to get the color right to represent different emotion level. Based on the research asking different people, I decided to go with a very intuitive spectrum of color to represent the emotions: Green to red, where green represent less stressed and red represent the most stressed. Purple color is used as the main accent color, applied on buttons and some other key elements. The background color is kept as greyscale to avoid the app looking to busy.
For the micro-interaction, I migrated the Figma design onto Framer, this allowed me to also embed fancier interactions from P5.js sketch. The stress level slider animation was done in After Effects, which was exported onto Lottie file, and then embedded into Framer using iFrame plugin.
The game development was the most fun part of the project. I used this opportunity to improve my P5 coding knowledge. I developed all the assets in Ai, then to test the type of the animation, I animated them in Ae. The last part was to try to code everything in P5 to make the game interactive. At the end I managed to make everything fully working. 
The last part of the project was the high fidelity user testing. I did the test with one of the teachers in Costa Rica. These are the insights that I got:
- The anonymous function is really useful, otherwise the app might only be useful for the management, as some teachers might not feel comfortable saying sensitive things that involve the management
- The squeezability of the stressball might not be comforting enough to fully express your emotions
Here's a video showing all the details of the final presentation and the design process:
If I were given more time, these are some of the things that I might want to improve from the project:
- Test a working-multi-user function to find out the engagement level of the teachers with the app
- Test the prototype with more groups from different schools (Public and private)
- Consult mental health exercises expert to come up with proper exercise methods with the stress ball
- Improve the data collection feature
- Make the stressball wireless (bluetooth)
- Explore materials for comfortability
- Refine the game codes​​​​​​​
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