Post 19 – October 26

What We Did:

Pressing ahead with our plan to go to London, we’ve been planning our itinerary and recruiting heavily for research participants. On our agenda is: test the working prototype with users, collect footage for the final video (including university footage, street views, and African students), and perform some observational research in local African neighborhoods. We’ve started exploring storyboard directions for the video by researching other types of promotional videos and analyzing the visuals, narrative structure, and messaging.

As with last semester, we’re pulling out the big guns to find appropriate recruits. We want current or recently graduated students who got their Master’s degrees in London, came from an African country, and uses What’s App. We are asking all our friends and contacts to make direct introductions or referrals: 1-do they know any Africans living abroad 2-do they have any African friends from grad school 3-did they go to grad school abroad and have any African friends there.

Additionally, we held three remote interviews this week, with Tilahun from Ethiopia, Lelo from Zimbabwe, and Tofi from Mexico.

Some findings were:

  1. Tilahun fell into his Bachelor’s area of study because he tried what his friends did, and found that he enjoyed it as well. He only had one year to declare a major.
  2. Tilahun went to Copenhagen for a Master’s degree because his friends attended the year before. Since they had similar grades and profiles, he used them as a benchmark. He figured that he had a similar chance of getting in.
  3. Since Tilahun wanted to go an academic route, he consulted and followed the advice of his professors, noting that they too all had pHD’s.
  4. Lelo got into an international high school program in London and moved from Zimbabwe. The choice built his network and informed his application strategies for undergraduate.
  5. Tofi only applied to Master’s programs he thought were good enough to attend.
  6. Tofi had to take the TOEFL five times – he was asked about it for undergrad and every time he needed to study abroad. They expire.
  7. Open House at Carnegie Mellon played a big role in Tofi accepting the HCI program, since he liked the people he met and the faculty talks. His decision was based on more than just the program – it was the people and city as well.
  8. Regarding being matched with a mentee, Tofi was concerned about not getting serious students and wasting his time with them.

In terms of the actual design, we’ve been defining the user flow for both the mentor and mentee (welcome statement > quiz > tutorial > match and introduction) and building out the features individually (tutorial, infobank, checklist, status updates). The quiz gathers the information that sets the stage for the experience. Based on what stage they are in the application process, the user will pull relevant information from the infobank, be given access to advanced checklist options, and receive personalized weekly reminders. We are also structuring the infobank library around the stages of the application process.

Finally, we sent out a ‘suggested topic’ to our mentors in the simulation we are running with incoming MITI students. Mentors are to re-engage their active mentee today.


There’s a lot going on right now – in terms of planning, designing, and development. We’re trying not to drop any balls. Similarly, we’re trying to make sure the design and development decisions are happening in sync, so we don’t over-design or create flows that don’t make any sense. Trying to create everything in a limited and set user interface is also challenging – for now, we are addressing this by chunking the information we want to deliver and presenting them during different parts of the process so the experience isn’t one big infodump. Paring down the most important messages and conveying just that is part of the same challenge.

Next Steps:

We need to crystallize the user flow and commands so we can put together a script to test the usability. We also need to put more thought into the testing of our prototype – will we test just tasks, or will we test more of the premise? All things to think about for next week.

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