Design an intermediary social platform to connect rural students who lack access and exposure about their interests/skills with those who are part of their communities and want to give back by sharing their knowledge about these interests. We called this platform Roots. It will offer rural learners:
The ability to discover and exposed about things in and outside their community.
Physical and digital access to people who have similar expertise/interests and
An opportunity to connect with mentors from their  own communities to promote social capital and cohesion.

Project Guide:Dr. Neha Kumar
Duration:Oct 2016-ongoing
Type: Individual Project (in progress)



Project Journey




(5-7 Experts Interviews |  3 Teachers+3 Volunteers+ 3 rural grad students )

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Need for Role model/mentor : “You can be what you can see”

One of the things that would really help students is to see success and having someone they could go to. I know one kid who is so smart but he is going to drop, unless someone shows interest to believe in him.”

Need for tutor and skill sharing.Mentor Support for efficient teaching

The primary school teachers are paid still they are not interested in teaching. He feels they actually don’t know how to teach.My background is Special Education and I don’t know much about technology.”

Wanting to give back to one’s own community

“I want to do something for my own village. I want to earn money in Mumbai and then go back to open Asha in my village.”

Need for physical world exposure and experiences

“I would like to teach Indian culture and history and show Mumbai to them as most of them would never come outside.  First time organizing the Lego League. Taken to the national zoo. Exhibit at Ohio about designing cars.”

Presence of champions/leaders who cares is really an asset for the community

“Some of the kids  calls me Dad. I want to support them and I want the best for them ”“I just want to support the kids and don’t want to do it for money”

Virtual presence could be deemed as Important

“If I tell them then they won’t pay attention, If someone across the platform is telling them something about anything, then that person is important.



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Initial Design Ideas

  1. Connections based on Similar Geographical region, Language and Shared Experiences.
  2. Online chat based communication system.
  3. One on One/Small Group Mentoring.•
  4. Learning Resource Manager.
  5. Field Trips
  6. …….……
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Asset Based Design Research( Low Tech Evaluation Approach)

A qualitative design approach to explore the feasibility of e-mentoring and online learning systems in particular using existing platforms like (WhatsApp, Google Hangouts). Understanding the effectiveness of virtual one-on-one and group mentorship across cultures/borders.

  1. Engagement
  2. Effectiveness
  3. Challenges and pain points
  4. Mentor/ Tutor/Mentee perceptions

***Its' an ongoing project, will be updated as the subsequent phases of journey are completed

Other Works