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San Francisco 

Unified School District 

Advanced Design Research

Project Brief

San Francisco Unified School District's advanced design research project is a volunteer project. As the learning process goes virtual, we recognize the hardship encountered by students during the lockdown. Our goal is to identify factors that negatively impact students in distant learning. We create practical solutions to facilitate their studies.

This project grants us significant insights as it pushes us to reach out to people outside of our own social circles. We show our empathy to the students who are hungry for knowledge and we put forward three practical solutions to help their needs.

High-level Timeline

September 25, 2020

3 weeks

Team Members

Wen Zeng

Weidi Qi

Rachel Poonsiriwong


Design Research

My Role

Design Researcher

Learning About SFUSD

We first identify SFUSD’s mission statement, the goal, and the vision that they hold in their educational aspects. Recognizing their needs is crucial for us to help them reaching their standard.


Mission Statement

SFUSD provides every student the quality instruction to meet the modern standard of equitable education.

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High school students in the SFUSD network readily realize their full potential under the nurturing environment. They also develop a sense of independence and strong reasoning skill. Upon graduation, the students are ready for college and career as they are well-trained in terms of skills, capacities, and dispositions.


  • Access and equity: Equal opportunity for every student to have access to high-quality education and activities.

  • Student achievement: Highly engaging and joyful learning environments in all SFUSD schools to support students in finding their potential.

  • Accountability: Keep the district’s promises to students and families and ensure everyone joins in the community to study.

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Finding out their COVID-19 Pandemic Measures

After recognizing and researching the SFUSD’s missions, we identify their measures on optimizing their online learning during the lockdown. We then summarize their tactics in the following categories:

  • SFUSD Family Resource Links

Provides families with helpful online resources to solve student's problems in distance learning.

  • TK-2 Learning Tips Via Text Message

Parents can text SFUSD to get weekly messages on fun activities and tips on helping kids during distance learning.

  • Donations of Goods and Services Support

Received and deployed dozens of in-kind donations to support students and families during extended school closures. 

The Problem Statement

Although SFUSD attempts to establish practical measures in the face of lockdown, we unearth their obstacles and concerns by interviewing their staff and associates. We categorize these issues into three areas:

Problem 1: Tech Accessibility 

Each student has their particular devices to access the internet for distance learning, but the variety of the device might have trouble for the same quality in their study performance. For example, some students do not own electronic devices that are capable of a smooth experience in distance learning.

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Problem 2:  Inaccessibility to identify individual student’s need

The lack of research data makes it hard to standardize the teaching experience and school activities offered through online learning.

Problem 3: Inadequate mental support to students

Many students experience a higher level of stress during the quarantine. Some even feel lost upon quarreling with their family members.


Research + Ideated solutions

After defining the problems, it is time to do the research and generate the best possible solution to solve current problems. Our method to find solutions is by researching other school district's methods and inspecting how they deal with the educational problem during the pandemic. We review different school districts' websites and collect the following solutions that might help to solve the issues.

San Diego Unified School District

Technological support  

  • Free Chromebook and wi-fi program, and free technology maintenance


Communication between parent and school

  • Focus on improved communications with the community from an academic standpoint

Their Solutions 

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The List of The School Districts 

Chicago Public Schools

High-Speed Internet and Devices

  • Partnership with Chicago Connected to provide  high-speed internet to 100,000 low-income families


Mental health support

  • Virtual events to reduce stress and anxiety, programs to cope with trauma and grief.

South Bronx (District 7)

Technology tutorials for parents 

  • Learning how to install and use Microsoft Teams and Google Classroom  


Wellness program

  • School weekly newsletter to help people enhance health and physical education at home

And we ask ourselves...

"How might we ensure a cohesive and wellness-centered learning experience for students during the COVID-19 pandemic?"

The Crazy 8 Method

With this Crazy 8 method, each of us postulates eight solutions to solve the problems. Alongside with the researches we made, we can quickly find the best possible solutions from among the eight options.

Our Crazy 8

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Final Solutions & Summary

After devising our individual solutions with the Crazy 8 method, we vote for the best solutions and combine it into one, in which we named it …

Copy of VICIK_10_4_2020_SFUSD PROJECT FI

Three-pronged, connected approach

Solution 1: Collective intelligence for effective resource distribution towards students in need. 

  • Design a survey for students to identify their issues in distance learning and prioritize the assistance based on urgencies.

  • Based on the survey, SFUSD can reach out to partnered organizations/charities to distribute the needed resource for targeted students in need. i.e., laptops for the group that doesn't have sufficient devices, free wifi spots for the group which does not have stable internet accessibility, etc.

  • This solution efficiently solve students’ problems and allocate the right public resources accordingly.


Solution 2: Ergonomic and Behavioral Guide. 

  • Designed an ergonomic guide that facilitates the students’ online learning environment by devising an inexpensive strategy that employs minor changes.

  • We designed a behavioral guide to identify potential mental issues encountered by students, and encourage them to seek help or to positively change their lifestyles.

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Solution 3 : Free laptop & Wi-Fi

  • Reach out to local tech companies, and negotiate to check if they offer any form of technical assistance—i.e. by providing free Wi-Fi and laptop loaning.

  • If there are no freely accessible resources, the school will draft alleviating plan based on individual students’ family budgets. Then the school will contact the provider to negotiate the best possible discount for the student.

  • Cox and Mediacom could be considered the internet providers to collaborate since they all participate in the connect2Compete program, which offers affordable internet to K-12 students.

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Storyboard Based on Our Solutions

Copy of VICIK_10_4_2020_SFUSD PROJECT FI


Our team feels rewarding through helping the SFUSD in this research project. This research aims to improve the students’ online learning experience during the pandemic. We have successfully identified the problems encountered by students, and have devised solutions accordingly. Based on the Crazy 8 method, we are impressed to unearth countless ways to help the students in need. Through this productive strategy, we look forward to discovering more problem-solving techniques in our future projects.

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