Scout is a mentoring app that connects older and younger adults by empowering them to share their skills and knowledge with one another. Scout connects older and young adults based in common interests,then guides them from online chats to in person skill sharing. Overtime, this platform promotes empathy by building confidence and community.
Scout is the product of a semester long studio project sponsored by Microsoft. Our challenge was to design an intervention which would promote empathy between two groups which are normally disconnected from each other. This technology would help challenge assumptions, and resolve conflicts. We were challenged to create something that could connect individuals but also at scale could create larger social change.
CMU MDes Fall IxD Studio 2
Part of the 2019 Microsoft Expo
Josh LeFevre, Anukriti Kedia, Ema Karavdic
Design Research, UX Design, User Testing.
Our original research question focused on using empathy to bridge the gap between different stakeholders in the food system and to address challenges of food literacy. However as as we began researching intergenerational differences in food literacy, we observed that changing social structures resulted in fewer opportunities for older adults to share their knowledge about food.
Early research showed that social isolation posed a significant barrier to food literacy. This isolation affected both older and younger adults, particularly those experiencing significant life transitions. Furthermore, we learned that generational stereotypes and lack of age inclusive community spaces prevent intergenerational friendships from forming. As our research evolved, we shifted our focus away from food and towards creating resilient, intergenerational communities through empathy.
-AARP Foundation Survey
What emerged from the research are these 6 design principles. Between our conversation with Jonathan and our reading Jeremy Rifkin’s empathic civilizations, we also found that empathy necessitates deep connection between individuals. Therefore, Empathy at scale requires new channels of communication to be effective.
To occur routinely among all generations
To leverage points of transitions to create sustained habitual change
For connection and acknowledgement of universal needs
To foster quality social interactions
To share knowledge and stories
To effectively motivate changes in routines and perceptions
As designers we recognize that we cannot create empathy… but we can create an ecosystem that enables opportunities for empathy to occur. From our findings emerged four phases of empathy upon which to build and promote community. It begins with the understanding of self, Which is grown through sustained conversations and face to face interactions and finally established through repeated connections. .
We utilized the following generative research methods to better understand the routines, needs and challenges of older and younger adults. The insights from our studies inspired intriguing concepts for products to bring both generations together.
What are the routines and needs of the older adults?
What are the perceptions about the other and what are the commonalities?
What are the current patterns in the solution space?
What are some existing perceptions of self and aging with statistical significance?
We conducted a workshop where we invited the two different generations to reflect on their own perceptions and to imagine an age-inclusive future. Our group consisted of four older and 4 younger adults.
We chose to use Max-Neefs 9 core values to help frame the activity for them. We observed that particularly older adults had a trouble with aspire to. They thought they should have already achieved their goals
Here we paired up the participants, with one from each generation as a part of the pairing. They created a shared list of need and challenges.
Next they mapped needs that came from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and perception of 1) their own needs and challenges; then 2) the perceived needs and challenges of the opposite generations needs and had them compare with each other. Then we paired up the participants, with one from each generation as a part of the pairing. They created a shared list of need and challenges.
Building on that both physically and psychologically, we asked them design a product service that meets needs in a shared future. Even though we gave them options, they all created or referenced physical spaces where both generations can come together.
We looked for current organizations, institutions, products, and other solutions which focus on this intergenerational/community solution space to bring people together. Based on what we found we mapped the concepts based on whether it was an individual or group centered intervention, and place or non-place based one.
The patterns we found is that most products tend to be non-place based and then the rest of patterns tend to be concrete physical organizations that ranged from festivals to learning spaces.
Physical and Digital
I like the idea of being in a multi-generational neighborhood with local services and parks. I also like the idea of living in [multi-generational built environment]. Now, if we could put them both together in a walkable neighborhood, I'd become one happy lady!
After our previous presentation, we took a step back to dream of the preferable future that we wish to envision. Our dream was centred around an intergenerational community, which lives, learns, works and socializes together.
We based our long term visions for the future in 2039, 20 years from today and 11 years from the IPCC 2050 goal of net zero carbon emissions. We learned thhe elderly population will rise to 17% in 2050 compared to the current 8.5%.
These trends reveal the importance of creating interventions. Within each of the contexts we imagined what a preferable futures would look like. These interventions should be scalable andt be able to foster intergenerational collaboration.
2019 Youth centric perception --------of education.
2039 Lifelong learning
--------- supported in educational -------- institutions
Expectation to leave the workplace at 65
Flexible mindset which values skills over age
Culture of social exclusion and siloed interactions
Lower social isolation
We live near each other but do not know each other
Intergenerational communal living is adopted
Based on these visions, we asked ourself the question of what is the first step we can take now, to make some these visions a reality. We story boarded different interventions within each of these contexts to take us forward on our journey of evaluative testing.
LEARNING & MENTORING PLATFORM
An older adult is looking for opportunities for self development. They find a mentoring platform and define interests through onboarding. They are matched with volunteering, mentoring and learning options. They participate in the activity they are matched to and earn credits which can be used for another experience.
A neighborhood restaurant host intergenerational dining event which is integrated with open table where users discover discounts after matching with someone of a different age and similar interests. Also available is a communal table set up to promote intergenerational conversation. Conversation cards help to kick off more meaningful and genuine conversations. After the dinner, they can share their experience on the digital platform
A middle aged woman begin work at a new company. All teams and projects require different generations to operate. The company also hose intergenerations workshops and parties After 4-5 years she qualifies for one of the company benefits, a sabbatical. She can choose to be paired with a more junior or senior employee and has 6-12 months paid from work to come up with an idea that may benefit the industry. At the end of this time the team presents the idea to the company.
INTERGENERATIONAL COOKING CLASS
A college student signs up for grocery store cooking class on platform and attends with a friend. The teacher is an older adult who is sharing traditional recipes. The students find ingredients in grocery store with the help of the platform which shows ingredient location. Ingredients bought for the cooking class are discounted. They cook under supervision of the teacher. The teacher and students share a meal and have enough to take home. Later in the week the students can continue learning from experts on platform.
© Corine Britto 2020
User Experience Designer
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