A personalized note-taking buddy.

#educationaldesign #STEAMed #EdTech 

We need solutions for fixing our poorly ranked public education system in Arizona.

Lack of quality education, busy households, time and money are all be factors that influence why children are not academically supported. What would it look like if children had access to more tools that help them stay up to speed if they fall behind? A tool that empowers children to solve academic and real-world world problems will help strengthen different cognitive and behavioral skills, as well as create a more personalized educational experience inside the classroom and out. 

Peerkat is a learning tool that can be applied to our formal academic institutions and help build new, creative problem solving strategies that are tailored to each student’s different learning styles. My research is driven by the following question:




How do we create a tool for students that will help them maneuver busy and over-populated classrooms, in order to help them learn better?

Policymakers need an effective way of identifying course curriculum that needs more attention from teachers.

Teachers need feedback on what areas of the curriculum students are having difficulty understanding.

Students need a way to pinpoint what course curriculum is challenging for them to get them the help they need to succeed.

Peerkat provides two solutions to the lack of effective personalized and effective teaching strategies.



Bookmarks useful lecture content so that students can review and better learn it at their own pace 

Notifies teachers via reports of confusing/engaging content so that they can tailor education to fit students’needs

"From middle-school playgrounds to frat house parties to 
million-view YouTube livestreams, Fortnite has become an obsession for millions of fans.
Gaming hasn’t seen anything this big since the coming of Minecraft."

I set out to find out why kids are so into video games. Is there a way we can combine the enthusiasm and motivation for gaming with learning, and get kids super excited about their education?


According to some local teens, the most challenging part of school can be a) having to learn so much information in a small amount of time, and b) not feeling confident enough to ask for clarification if they don't understand it fully. This reinforced the insight of needing a low profile way of

signaling to a teacher when information is misunderstood. In addition to meeting a need of psychological wellbeing, I gathered that there were six elements that need to be included to come up with a successful education tool. Two of the most important: it needs to be as educational as it is fun.

Social Interaction.

Personalized Learning.

Skills Acquired.  




Low-Fi Prototyping.

I was suggested to begin prototyping ideas, rather than products. If every concept that we prototype is on a scale from “not at all” to “extremely”, what does it look like to prototype the idea of “social-ability”? What about the idea of “choice”? “Fun”? I played around with this idea for a bit...

Creating a User Journey.

Part of my process for this project includes me making roadmaps for engineers and developers to use to make sense of my product. Because I will be working with these people to develop a working prototype with these people next semester, I made different versions of a user journey, and became familiar with UML diagramming to better understand my product’s use cases. 

Mold-Making Process.

With a few 3D prints and mold-making trials, I was able to narrow in on a form that better fit my users’ hands, pockets, and backpacks. One day, while search the inter-webs for inspiration, I came across this Japanese stress toy. This is exactly the kind of playfulness, small size, and cute form that I was looking for in my project! I used this as major inspiration in my design. 

Peerkat Clicker V01.

Peerkat will be used as a plugin for Google Classroom, Blackboard, or other learning platforms teachers currently use. It will be unlikely that I will be able to access the APIs (application program interface) necessary to have this function as a plugin to these platforms.

Additionally, I am designing small, customized skins that can change the recording device’s look so that students will be able to personalize their own Peerkat.

From my research on video games, a large part of why products become successful is due to customization. I am continuing to put thought into the styles of skins I will be offering, to make sure that every high school student can find a skin that fits their unique style.

Creating a Testable Prototype.

Gowan Rowland, a coworker of mine partnered with me to help build the hardware stack and program my Peerkat to be able to interface with the internet. After this step, I hope to take Peekrat back to the school I have been working with, in order to provide a proof of concept. 

My engineering friends taught how to approximate battery size, draw schematics for how the internal hardware will work with the digital platform,, and how to flash and solder hardware.

How can we create a valuable report that gives teachers the ability to learn from and tailor their teaching styles to student needs?


The teacher's product consists of a report that each teacher receives that gives them information on how well or poorly their teaching styles are affecting students. I generated four metrics that create a valuable report that teachers teachers how to tailor their teaching styles to student needs.





User Testing:


Testing Hardware with Software: 
-Testing how students use the 
“Clicking for Confusion” functionality 
-Testing teacher visualization of 
student data


Redesigning Form Factor: 
-Gain more perspective on time-of-day use cases of Peerkat 
-Gain more perspective on stylistic choices for Peerkat 

Positive Rhetoric


Confusions and Highlights 

Bridging Gaps 

In giving students a blank sheet with a simple Peerkat form, I was able to get a better grasp of different form factors from students’ perspective, as well as an element of co-designing the product with students.


I was then able to think through UI design for teacher click report and its relation to daily report, think through function of Peerkat clicker a bit more, and design final aesthetic choices that were created by the students themselves. 

Peerkat Clicker V02.

In co-designing with students and teachers at WSST, I was able to understand the functionality of Peerkat’s software and hardware as well as help develop form and styles. Both qualitative and quantitative feedback helped formulate data-driven design choices. 

Peerkat has become smaller, lighter, and personalized with pattern and design wraps of student's choosing. This is financially easier to implement than physical changes to Peerkat's body, and allows for more customization  for students. 

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