The Out of Eden Learn platform is a unique online space that supports young people to interact, share stories and be their authentic selves in a safe environment. It is different from other social media in many ways. Most notably, participants create pseudonyms and at no point share their real names or pictures of themselves. Young people report that on Out of Eden Learn, they don’t feel the same judgment and pressures they encounter in other online spaces. Participants are also offered specific tools to support respectful and meaningful dialogue across the platform.
As part of our iterative design and research process, we periodically re-examine our platform, curricula, and community norms to see how they might be enhanced to advance our evolving project goals. Recently, we worked with Yeti, the group that has taken over supporting the Out of Eden Learn platform, to see how we might improve our platform features and functionalities. In this blog post we are excited to share several major changes we have made, and the thinking that led to them.
The platform changes were motivated by our interest in supporting students to enrich their interactions in two key ways. First, we hoped to see students encounter a wider range of posts – looking beyond the most recent posts at the top of their activity feed. We also hoped to see them engage in more sustained dialogue with students from other classrooms. With these two key goals in mind, we designed and implemented the following new features:
Participants are now able to “bookmark” specific posts. This function allows students and educators to save posts, easily revisit them, “follow” certain users and more easily keep track of their ongoing conversations with other participants. Our hope is that with the ability to seamlessly find and revisit specific posts, this feature will support young people to continue conversations with one another.
Participants can now search for specific user names/keywords among all of the posts for a particular activity. This function will support users to “follow” one another while also providing opportunities for young people to uncover themes and connections across all of the posts. The search function will also encourage participants to search for posts that focus on themes or topics of particular interest to them.
The new sort function allows participants to easily encounter a variety of posts without scanning through all of the posts. Users can sort posts by location (A-Z and Z-A), by most recent post first, by oldest post first, and by random sorting. This function will automatically sort the posts in a random order, offering students the opportunity to engage with and access posts they may not have otherwise seen, hopefully leading to increased and more varied interactions.
This function mimics the continuous scroll feature of popular social media sites like Instagram and Facebook. Whereas before, Out of Eden Learn participants would have to click through multiple pages of posts, they now can simply scroll through all of the posts for a particular activity. This will make the experience of browsing through posts smoother and more efficient.
To get an inside look of how these new features work on the Out of Eden Learn platform, we invite you to watch this short video.
We hope that students and educators alike will find their interactions on Out of Eden Learn enriched by these small but important design changes. As always, we are excited to follow their journeys.