Work performance platform

Aha!

Discipline

Service design, UX design, UI design, User research

Team

Kenjiro Taniguchi, Yi-tzu Chang

Partner

Royal College of Art,

Aalto University Campus & Real Estate

Duration

3 months

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The project

The mental well-being of students is a serious issue for Aalto University. More than twice as many students as the national average are at high risk of study-related burnout, which also affects their academic performance. The university has made health and wellbeing a central part of its campus development strategy and is taking steps to address this. But given the complexity of the issue, improvements at the university level alone have their limitations. This project aims to co-design a service, together with the Aalto community, that serves as a platform for improving student mental well-being and creating a new campus experience.

The approach

1. Discovery

2. Ideation and early prototype

3. Prototyping and refining

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Challenge

Our research revealed that students' mental wellbeing is deeply rooted in their daily lives. Students are stressed by their ambition of study success, and want to improve their routine. Developing social connection is a crucial part of wellbeing, but is also stressful to put effort on.

The design journey experimental, collaborative,

and ambitious.

Our design journey was strategically experimental, fully collaborative, and enthusiastically ambitious. Through the online co-design workshops and rigorous prototype testing, combined with digital marketing methodologies, we could ensure the whole service was built with the set of  well-validated building blocks.

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The research

We started our research with a simple survey, asking Aalto students what makes them feel good. The result shows that students are more likely to understand their well-being as being rooted in their daily lives, such as studying, having a good breakfast, cooking, having exercise and so on.

Then we started to reach out to people through interviews, social media interactions, and a workshop to get a deeper understanding. In the interviews and workshop, we came across various kinds of comments that formed our understanding of the landscape of student wellbeing in Aalto University. Among them, we identified that there are two areas that come up again and again, which are study-related stress and social connections.

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01.

Key insights

Students are stressed by their ambition of study success and want to improve their productivity with better planning and routine.

02.

Developing social connection is a crucial part of student wellbeing, but is also stressful to put effort into.

03.

Diversity of the students is the biggest asset and can be harnessed through the channels of the student associations.

04.

The natural environment and existing services provide an opportunity for being integrated through the service intervention.

Project goals

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Nudge students towards better productivity

Develop skills useful throughout the life

Create easy access to social connections

Ideation and prototyping

We crowd-sourced a very wide variety of service ideas from Aalto University students, teachers and service providers. This pool of ideas became the rich source of our prototypes.

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Our prototyping strategy was to test out as many small bits and pieces as possible, of all levels from the strategy and mechanism to function and interface.

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The key of the strategy was to formulate small hypotheses at different levels, put them into prototypes, test them on real users, and reflect the feedback back into the service so that the whole service proposition could be built with the set of well-validated building blocks.

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The solution

Aha! Space

A space to get things done.

In Aha! Space, you will experience a very unique yet effective study environment where everyone in the room following the Pomodoro Technique of 25-minute work and 5-minute break repeatedly. There is a big stopwatch on the wall. The faint natural sounds help students focus on the work during the working time, and relaxing music during break-time informs students to break. This happens in both the individual-work space and group-work space. Having everyone around you concentrating helps to discipline yourself, and having everyone take a break at the same time also works to study without getting tired. This time structure shared with people around creates a sense of belonging and an environment for students' spontaneous interactions. Through a straightforward mechanism of providing time-based guidance and a little bit of social pressure, the service has a productive learning experience and social connection.

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Aha! App

Boost study performance together with peers

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The project showcases the power of online co-creation, how students can mutually support mental wellbeing , and how simple service intervention with less complexity and cost can effectively help students. We are happy to contribute not only to the Aalto students’ wellbeing but also to the future development of Aalto University.

Key learnings

Online interactions under pandemic have broadened the opportunity for collaboration and co-design.

When working with a brief, it’s important to don't follow any early assumptions of a solution​ and to evaluate the human need first

Tools to create and facilitate workshops online due to the covid situation

October - January 2021, London

With "Aha! App", you can do your own Pomodoro cycles with your selected background sounds. The app gives you different types of tips before you start working and during break time that helps you keep focused and relieve your stress and relax. The app not only allows you to use the Pomodoro Technique on your own, but you can also synchronize the time with the physical Aha! Space. Then you can see how many people are working in the physical and virtual Aha! Space using this single timer at the moment. You can also add your friends within the app and open a virtual study room to work with them. These functions make you feel like you are working in the same space with your fellow students, creating a sense of belonging even in virtual space.

Achievements

For the future development

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