Just Like Us is developing a learning platform for teachers with Catalyst

Just Like Us is working for a world where LGBT+ young people live improved lives, free from bullying. We empower young people to champion LGBT+ inclusion within their school communities to create environments where all young people can thrive. To do this, we work in partnership with schools, their staff and pupils to deliver our three programmes: talks and workshops, Pride Groups and School Diversity Week.

A new part of our work will see us further support LGBT+ young people by providing resources and training to school staff, which will enable them to deliver LGBT+ inclusive education in their schools, which will meet curriculum requirements and counter anti-LGBT+ bullying.

We’re proud that we have had the opportunity to scope out this exciting development through the support of the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST). We began on their Explore programme – to investigate delivery challenges and prototype solutions – and have just completed Catalyst’s Development programme.

During CAST’s Explore programme, which we took part in over summer 2020, we reached the conclusion that LGBT+ inclusive education is not delivered consistently in UK schools, to the detriment of LGBT+ young people across the country who are more than twice as likely to worry daily about their mental health. Through focus groups and prototyping, school staff revealed they did not have an accessible and easy way to obtain high quality LGBT+ inclusive resources, which are curriculum-based, unique, relevant and intersectional. Those school staff also revealed that LGBT+ training would enable their colleagues to talk more confidently about LGBT+ issues, leading to lasting cultural change in schools.

We crafted two user needs statements which informed our participation in the Development programme:

  • As an educator...I need to access high quality LGBT+ curriculum resources so that I can engage my pupils

  • As an educator...I need to access high quality LGBT+ training online so that I can expand my knowledge

We identified that users would value and use the following to meet their needs:

  • An online database of curriculum-linked LGBT+ inclusive educational resources which they can use to meet their pupils’ educational needs; and

  • Online LGBT+ training to enable them to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to talk about LGBT+ identities with pupils and create a lasting culture change in schools.

In the Development phase, we had the goal of conducting further research and testing remaining assumptions about both the above, with the support of our digital partner, Sienna.

With Sienna’s help, we further prototyped and tested both solutions with users, which enabled us to gain further insight and feedback that will allow us to produce a detailed brief. This brief will specify the design, content and functionality for a dedicated area of our website that will contain the online resource database and learning platform.

It was great to work openly and collaboratively with not just Sienna but the wider cohort. For example, using Miro and HackMD, we have documented all our thoughts and insights as we go to both keep a record and be able to track the progress of the project. Regular check ins, start up and wrap up sessions with the Catalyst team have made all the difference - particularly the support of their Open Working Lineup (OWL).

Sienna has been invaluable. They created a low fidelity Figma prototype designed to test the usability of a flow from selecting a resource to downloading it via a login or signup system. This prototype also allowed feedback for features such as bookmarking, tags and sharing. Using that, Sienna created even more in-depth prototypes that they’ve tested with users, validating prototypes to test different ideas. In our approach to the programme, we chose to do two cycles of prototype creation and usability testing to allow for informed iteration and validation.

Sienna and Catalyst’s support has allowed us to complete the Development programme with synthesised results alongside documented insights, recommendations and lessons learned.

Some lessons we’d like to share include:

  • Work openly where you can to learn more

  • When providing resources for a given group it is important to know that the format of what you provide is going to work for them, e.g. is your product compatible with their operating system?

  • Validate ideas through usability testing with real users early and often (even low-fidelity prototypes or testing existing services can provide insights without spending a lot of time/money/expertise building them)

  • The importance of asking open ended questions for more qualitative feedback. Don’t ask leading questions!

  • Think from the user's perspective as much as possible - break features down into user journeys and stories

As we look ahead to the third act of our digital journey, we hope to pull together all our learnings from Explore and Development to enable us to develop a new website and build an integrated online learning platform and resource database.

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