Participatory design with families, teachers and experts
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Designing an innovative network of schools for the middle class in Brazil

How we helped Grupo SEB rethink education for Brazil's C class

Grupo SEB (Sistema Educacional Brasileiro) is one of the largest educational institutions in Brazil. It has more than 50 years of history and around 90,000 students impacted by constantly evolving learning models, cared for daily by the Group to ensure that each of these students has the opportunity to be the protagonist of a successful story.

This leading role in the sector has given the SEB Group a broad view of educational transformations over the years. This position has pointed to a gap that is somewhat obvious in its pain, but complex in its resolution: access to quality education for the lower income brackets. Families believe in growth through education and dream of their children developing and conquering their spaces, but the bill for an innovative and relevant education often doesn't fit into the budget. An ideal opportunity to take another step in the history of Brazilian education - the intention would be to generate a significant social impact and bring quality learning to all audiences.

Possessing a vast educational repertoire and aware of the size of the consumer's pocket, Grupo SEB's challenge was to really get to know middle-class families in order to find out where to direct efforts in building a network of innovative schools for this public. The constraints not only in the design but also in the ongoing provision of the service were present from day one of the project. Finding creative ways to delight within the viability of the business was the big question.

"If Luminova is just an alternative to public school, we've failed. It needs to delight in every aspect." - Thamila Zaher (Executive Director Grupo SEB)

We started the project with the premise of establishing a solid group unit between WHF and Grupo SEB, and assembling a cast that was appropriate for the size of the challenge: we brought together researchers, designers, architects and teachers, as well as specialists in education and agile methodologies.

To go beyond pedagogical theories, three research fronts were created: Families, students and teachers.

With the families, the main idea was to go out into the field to get to know their habits and desires. To accompany a family on their daily tasks - such as taking or picking up the children from school, a family trip to the mall - and there, in reality, to talk and discover the nuances of the service. With the students, to understand what this new generation wants and what motivates them. And finally, with teachers, the desire was to understand the profile of this new teacher influencer.

We spent a day in the lives of several families living in the pilot regions where Luminova was launched. In all the incursions we applied observation methods, interviews and logbooks with fathers, mothers, children and teenagers. In parallel, we also conducted focus groups and workshops with influential teachers to understand their practices and perspectives.

This work resulted in great insights into the service, habits and routines of the families. It was also possible to understand the value map and the very definition of successful education for families. A complete study that characterized an audience with which Grupo SEB did not yet have a history of working. With these insights in hand, we brought the group of experts together to design and prototype the future school.

The main result of the work carried out was the structuring, from scratch, of the service and experience of Grupo SEB's new network of access schools: Luminova. The school began its activities in 2019 with 3 units in the capital of São Paulo and a unit in Sorocaba (SP) with tuition fees starting at R$470. For 2020, the intention is to open another five units, and the expectation is to reach 25 schools in five years.

In addition to the direct business results, we can also highlight deliveries such as:

  • Study on education in the middle class;
  • Service drivers;
  • Service concept;
  • Student service day;
  • Family service day;
  • Teachers' working hours;
  • Environment Briefs;
  • Place Branding;
  • 26 solutions for the journey;
  • 13 prototypes;

The creation of an innovative, accessible school that dialogues with the neighborhood and the surrounding community is a challenge in a country like Brazil.

This movement impacts not only the community which, for the first time, has access to cutting-edge educational technologies and practices, but also sets a new precedent for Brazilian education as a whole: it is possible.

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Participatory design with families, teachers and experts

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