Young people entering the world of work today face perhaps the most complex and fast-changing labor market in history. The gig economy, robotics, AI, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles… All these advancements mean young people will need to navigate their way through a lifetime of roles, continuously adapting and learning.
Become Education is an Australian company creating imaginative and engaging tools to help young people prepare for 21st century careers.
In this blog post, we’ll see how Become Education use graph visualization, powered by KeyLines, to equip children with the skills and knowledge to design their own lives.
While careers have changed dramatically in recent years, careers counselling has not. Many schools rely on a one-size-fits-all approach, taking place late in the students’ school years, using static information.
The vision behind Become Education was a process that put the student in the driving seat. Using an app, they would explore careers, and build plans that they could develop and adjust throughout their lives. A framework for their lifelong learning.
Co-founder and CTO of Become Education, David Wilson, explains:
“We wanted to encourage children to use their skills, motivations and ambitions to explore careers and get personalized advice. For that to work, our approach had to be engaging as well as enlightening. We wanted to build an experience that encouraged curiosity, helping them to explore the vast network of career opportunities out there – without information overload.”
David’s experience as a full-stack developer and information systems designer led him to graph technology – a genre of tech optimized for densely connected data.
For the application to be useful, it had to be accessible to children and adults. That gave the Become Education team some specific requirements of their graph visualization solution:
David realized that these requirements, along with the need to maximize their development resource, made a software development kit (SDK) the most suitable solution:
The KeyLines SDK allowed them to build a quality visualization tool quickly, get the application into schools faster and spend more time generating rich data.
The application is being used by schools across Australia in the BECOME.ME Program, and they are now launching globally.
KeyLines has been used to provide an interactive way to explore a vast taxonomy of 64,000 different job roles. There are three ways to start that journey:
The initial loading screen shows a number of industries as starting points for further exploration.
This approach begins with a high-level overview before honing in on increasingly specific job roles. The student can then learn more about select specific jobs of interest, and save them to their log to review later.
To help the students navigate the graph, the Become Education team have used some smart UX design:
Combined with smooth animation, these techniques make it easy to navigate the 64,000 job roles and 1,300 categories.
This approach suits those with a specific role in mind, allowing them to perform a search to return a graph or related job roles, with information about each:
The neat graph layout helps to show clusters of related roles, without obscuring the picture with overlapping nodes. Also, using a square for the original node helps the student find their way around the graph.
The final approach allows the student to filter the graph by school subjects before starting to explore:
This clever use of filters removes a huge number of options, allowing the student to quickly find their way to the most relevant roles.
So far, feedback has been positive. David Wilson explains how one tough customer was won over:
Prior to usability testing I typically give parents an opportunity to explore the app unobserved. This helps them evaluate what I want the child to experience. One mom was certain that the application wouldn’t work. She took a couple of pages of notes explaining that our data was too big and the network presentation would be frustrating.
Two hours into the test session we brought it reluctantly to a close. Two hours of laughter and discovery with the children exploring while in a timeless zone of focus – certainly not a chore. Mom learned several things from her kids (including navigation) and was happy to report that the 10 year old declared “that was extremely interesting!”
As for their experience with KeyLines:
“For us, our investment in KeyLines was money wisely spent on a fantastic tool, backed by incredible and proactive development and support team. Kids and teachers love it as much as we do!”
The team at Become Education have big plans for the future. Future versions of the application will include enhanced filtering and exploration techniques, as well as a richer data model and more accurate and specific results.
The goal for the application is to become a powerful, personalized careers advice platform and recommendation engine, powered by ArangoDB, KeyLines and machine learning. We’ll keep you updated!
You can learn more about Become Education at www.become.education