Impackt: design thinking process to build a social entrepreneurship learning platform

In this project, two colleagues and I had one driving question: how can we support undergraduate minority students who want to create social positive impact in their communities?


Impackt‘s prototype presents the idea of a social entrepreneurship learning platform and online community, in which learners can get connected to resources from social entrepreneurs to funding opportunities. And, ultimately, learners will create their own path towards their successful project while collaborating with others.

As a learning platform, our belief was that undergraduates will gain a deeper understanding of social entrepreneurship by learning with mentors and peers. Impackt has three main focuses:

. Mentoring: by connecting learners to successful minority social entrepreneurs;
. Curating Resources: by providing tools, funds and incubating resources directed to minority students;
. Building Community: by supporting the meeting of other social entrepreneurs-to-be to share resources and build knowledge together.

This interactive prototype was developed for the final step of a design thinking process with two other MEITE program colleagues, Naima Rashid and Steven Williamson. It was a product of three months of: interviews for need analysis and literature review (Empathy); competitor analysis and features design (Ideation), storyboard development (Define); paper and interactive prototypes (Prototype); and three rounds of testings (Test).

Design thinking process

  1. Empathy: understanding our learner needs

After conducting literature review to give us some background hypothesis, we interviewed undergraduate students in North Carolina that had expressed a desire to build positive social impact. The interviews were all in person, with open-ended questions. Our purpose was to understand their ideas for projects of social impact, the challenges they were facing to develop their project, and what they believed that could help them in finally creating a successful social project.

Our first questions were broad such as: “What is the change you want to see in the world?” and “If you had all the resources, knowledge and tools needed, what would you create?”. From there, we were able to delve further into understanding the needs and general mindset of the learners by asking questions targeted to their experiences, hesitations and expectations.

2. Define: describing how the solution connects to our learners’ needs

From the empathy phase, we’ve mapped some needs and insights to better support our learners in their goal. In general, they felt that they’ve faced specific problems as minority students during the process of pursuing their passion project, and ultimately, the lack of support made them give up on their dream.

We’ve created some personas representing our learners and a storyboard to document their journey while also exploring some possibilities in tool features. This process was very helpful to start grounding our ideas and make sure the learning experience we were planning was well-connected to the learners’ needs as well to the intended learning outcomes.

3. Ideate: brainstorming the learners’ experience in our platform

This is not a smooth process, but it is where we can be the most creative in our solutions. How do our ideas can not just meet our learners’ expectations but also push one step further in attending their needs? After many brainstorm sessions with a lot of sketching, we were able to come up with the features to be tested in our first prototype– a paper prototype!

4. Prototype & Test: deciding what stays and what goes

Before we were able to test this interactive prototype with undergraduate learners (see their feedback), we started by sketching a low-fidelity paper prototype. The idea of our paper prototype was to test our features without raising the stakes– if our learners hated it, we could sketch all over again!

Because our feedback was mainly positive, we were able to create an interactive mock-up very similar to our low-fidelity prototype. See some of the screenshots:

You can also check our interactive prototype navigation simulated in the video below:

For checking more about Impackt and our design thinking process, take a look on our website Impackt: We make a difference.

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