Reimagine Remote Education

- Designing a personalized learning experience from home


New School SF is a tuition-free K-12 charter school currently serving K-8. The core values of the school are Inquiry, Equity, and Personalized Learning. 50% of the incoming students will be eligible for the Free or Reduced Priced Lunch program.

We were approached by New School to understand how the school calendar and schedule could potentially be redesigned to improve academic equity, especially the summer slide that happened after school breaks.

Our final design includes with a new school calendar model that will be implemented in the school and a new take-home package system that can supplement remote learning during school breaks.


Kristian Simarian

team nü

Kush Dave
Monica Poddar
Tess Hannel
Wilson Wu


Aligning Project Scope, Research+Interview+Case Study, Steering Project Direction

poc at New school sF

Shernice Lazare


6 months


Stakeholder Analysis, Remote User Research, System Modeling, Service Blueprint, Figma, Miro

team value

Research with Empathy
Strive to understand where families are coming from and what their goals are.

Frame with Inquiry
Synthesize data with an open mind and without bias.

Design with Intent
Create purposefully, armed with research and insights.

Test with Patience
Prototype with families' best interests in mind and keep iterating.


We approached the project with a dedicated plan of research, ideation, and prototyping. Our process started with discovering the stakeholders' values, continued with defining their needs, and landed with prioritized design prototypes.

comprehend the situation

We started the project by understanding our partner through various systematic thinking tools.

Stakeholder Analysis: 
To identify key stakeholders in the school network and the information flow regarding function, finance, emotion, identity, and meaning.

Iceberg Modeling:
To uncover the hidden mental models by laddering the structure, pattern, and event-level above it.

Waveline Mapping:
To outline the key variations through the emotional journeys for three types of families.

research overview

We utilized a combination of various research methods to gather a comprehensive understanding of all stakeholders' perspectives.

Comparative Analysis:
3 Case Studies of Modified Calendar

2x2 Mapping Exercise:
For New School SF Leadership Team

2 Expert Interviews
6 Staff Interviews
3 Parent Interviews

remote collaborating

COVID happened in the middle of our research and we were forced to shift our collaboration completely online.

The seemingly difficulty did not stop us from pushing forward our project. We quickly adapted to the unprecedented situation and continued the research via different tools like Figma, Miro, Zoom.

synthesis research data

The data gathered from all our research provided a solid foundation for insight generation. We used affinity mapping for each stakeholder group and sorted the quotes into themes.

After multiple rounds of iteration, we arrived at our four main insights and one opportunity statement.

Key insights

Academic Equity

An effective approach to academic equity that represents New School’s principles of autonomy and agency should be based on choice and flexibility, instead of imposition.

Remote Learning

Without the physical environment of a school, teachers are redefining what it means to give and receive feedback — for both themselves and their students.

Learning Over Breaks

Varying expectations about vacation make it difficult for New School to implement a systematic approach to learning over breaks.

Modified Calendar

A calendar redesign should also be focused on exploring ways to effectively use the break time to supplement student learning.


"How might we extend the New School’s approach of personalized, inquiry-based learning into school breaks in order to improve academic equity?"


Migration towards a balanced calendar contains hard work on many aspects. We as a team of designers decided to focus on ideation the breaktime utilization as part of our proposal.


Modular and personalized intersessions during break times from school.

A comprehensive tool for teachers to create and manage intersession learning plans.

A custom take-home package for each student to enable their intersession learning plan.


We used a storyboard to communicate the idea visually to our partner at New School SF.

theory of change

Desired Outcome

Ease the academic slide for students during breaks.


For students: Personalized intersessions and take-home packages

For teachers: Tool to create and manage intersession learning


Better feedback from teachers during break time

Social-emotional learning + Inquiry-based learning + Better collaboration


Better student engagement during remote learning

Improvement in student performance across grades and demographics

proposed calendar model

Our team also assisted in designing a the new calendar model presentation that conveys the key research learning for parents.

proposal for new school sf

Summer 2020

Co-design and develop take-home packages prototype

Fall 2020

Evaluate packages

Explore alternate calendar options

Co-design in-person intersessions


Implement the redesigned calendar in New School


Inspire city-wide and nation-wide schools with our calendar model


The project faced critical challenges from COVID not just on our modes of working, but also on our project focus. While the initial goal was to redesign the calendar, we targeted specifically the take-home package and the packages ended up critical for the remote learning situation amid COVID. The process was a huge learning experience for me in terms of conducting remote research and also rapidly shifting gears against challenges. These insights are undoubtedly beneficial to a designer in a rapidly changing world today.