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digital hallways

Encouraging online community and collaboration in education during COVID-19.


User Research

Experience Design

Interface Design


Justin Luo
Mia Drury


Windsor Central Supervisory Union


Jan '20 -

May '20

initial challenge

Our client, the board of a K-12 school district in Vermont, was facing challenges relating to achieving student outcome metrics, budget constraints, and declining student enrollment. They asked us to design an initiative that would connect teachers with local businesses to help them understand the demands of various careers and adapt instruction to better prepare students to succeed in a changing world.


In order to better understand the community we were designing for, we began our process with primary and secondary research.


Interviews with 

key stakeholders


Academic resources about K-12 education


Observational classroom visits


We synthesized all of the information gathered from 3 weeks of research and began to define key insights to define our solution specifications.

insight no.1

The district has experienced systemic structural changes which have added challenging complexity to the school system. Our solution must be flexible and sustainable to work within this school system.

"There have been a lot of changes in the last few years. This district is in real transition and not everyone is on board with any initiative.”

                                          — a teacher in the district


insight no.2


Teachers already have a lot of responsibility on their plates and lack available time to accomplish everything they’d like to. They expressed a hesitation to participate in new programs without a clear benefit to their students. A new initiative would have to justify the costs of limited resources.

“We have a lot of great ideas, but it’s scary to implement something new because you don’t want to put students at a disadvantage for [standardized tests]”

                         — a teacher/academic coach in the district

insight no.3


Students feel a greater sense of urgency, pride, and ownership over their education when their work is shared with the public. Our solution should strive to promote community visibility to strengthen the benefits of community alliance for the district.

“There’s a huge need for school and community partnerships. It helps students to see how the community functions and shows the community how the schools are preparing students to be worthwhile community members.”

                                                            — a teacher in the district


After our reframe, we dove back into our research and found that much of it was still relevant. We conducted some additional research and went to the whiteboard to ideate potential solutions. Our favorite idea was an online portfolio system.


reframed challenge

We determined that an initiative that caused teacher's to spend more time outside of the classroom was not a welcome or sustainable solution. After presenting our findings to the client we reframed the challenge:

Design a digital experience that enhances education and promotes collaboration through community-wide visibility. 


In order to prototype our online portfolio system we determined that Medium would serve as the best platform due to its simplicity and low barrier to entry. Then, we created sample portfolios for individual students and classroom projects.


Student portfolio prototype

Classroom portfolio prototype


Through 16 follow-up interviews with administrators, teachers, and students, we gathered valuable feedback. While our stakeholders were generally excited by our prototypes, we also heard about concerns to address as we built out our final solution.


We asked ourselves: How might we capture the feeling of excitement and pride that comes from colorful displays of projects in school hallways in an online format?


digital hallways

Digital Hallways is a system that enables community members to witness the amazing projects and creative lessons students and teachers are creating. It features a landing page on the district website where all portfolios and projects are organized and easily accessed.


We designed 3 major components to ensure Digital Hallways can be implemented successfully with a clear understanding of its benefits:




A landing page accessible from the district’s website that features recent project reflections, and opportunities for experiential community partnerships, while also serving as a directory of student and classroom portfolios (all published on Medium)

10+ resource guides consisting of articles and instructional videos to help users post their classroom or personal projects to Medium

8+ example portfolios to serve as templates and inspiration to guide users as they take it upon themselves to create their own

the process


Want to explore our analysis and solution more in depth?


Flexible and sustainable (optional)

Low barrier to entry (simple +free)

Emphasizes community engagement

Enhances education even when remote

Digital Hallways is an online school community where students, teachers, and administrators to easily contribute their work to a larger conversation.


We aim to incorporate local community and peers as an audience to enhance the ownership and motivation students feel in the classroom.  For students and teachers alike, engaging with this solution has the potential to cultivate more deep and meaningful educational experiences, as well as connections that can bring education outside of the classroom, too.