Insights from FUNetix team:
FUNetix is on an ambitious mission to ensure every single American child learns to read and write. In a country facing a huge literacy crisis – where 25% of kids are completely illiterate, and 10 million children a decade leave school with no literacy skills – its product could be a complete gamechanger for children, parents and educators.
Funetix is an interactive tablet and desktop app for children and their parents. Its name is a play on the word ‘phonetics’: a style of teaching kids to read where small pronunciation symbols called “diacritics” show children the hidden sounds in every word. Children who struggle to learn English in a mainstream curriculum can learn with FUNetix in a matter of months or even weeks. The app is designed to be consumed in 12 hours and is aptly named “The FUNetix 12 Hour Reading App.”
Mr. R. Kali Woodward is the founder of FUNetix and the American Youth Literacy Foundation. He is also a former Spanish and Arabic linguist for the US army. Twenty years ago, he designed the FUNetix system for his own son who was struggling to read at school. He has since taught thousands of children to read by mobilising a passionate team of talented volunteer professionals.
Initially delivered as an in-person program using tutors, FUNetix scaled its reach by launching an app in 2020.
Introducing Loop11 to FUNetix
The FUNetix UX team used Loop11’s screen recording feature to view children and their parents using an alpha version of the app. This enabled them to identify problems and challenges, and refine the app to improve the user journey before launch.
"Loop11 has been a wonderful asset for us because we're able to continue to test even as the app has now launched. We can see real world kids and real world parents in real world environments, and how the app performs. And we can make adjustments based off of that."
By using Loop11, the UX team was also able to expand the scale of their testing. More than 20 families provided hundreds of hours of testing and feedback before, during and now, since the launch of the app!
Getting up to speed with Loop11
As a volunteer-led organisation, the FUNetix UX team changes over regularly. Most staff are new and emerging UX designers. Working with FUNetix and Loop11 is often their first opportunity to apply their skills to the real world. To ensure a smooth transition between staff, and to maintain momentum with UX testing, the original UX team documented a clear workflow for using Loop11 with FUNetix.
"Loop11 has been easy to use from the parent and user standpoint, and easy for us on the back end to capture the video, download the video and manipulate what we need using the admin software that Loop11 provides to us."
With Loop11’s intuitive interface, and FUNetix’s documented processes for running effective tests, onboarding new staff and running user tests is always straightforwar
Learning lab with UX at its heart
As well as understanding how a user navigates the app, the FUNetix UX team also needs to focus on whether children are achieving the intended learning outcomes. That is, are they learning to read? The design and mission of the app means that Loop11’s moderated and unmoderated testing are both invaluable for gaining insights.
"We really wanted to capture those little bits of feedback that you can only discover when users are in the middle of doing something on the app: when they’re frustrated by something, surprised by something, or when they like something or find something particularly entertaining."
The FUNetix team works in sprints and regularly tests with Loop11 to refine and enhance the app. Their ultimate aim is to optimize learning outcomes by continually optimizing the experience for kids, minimizing frustration for both kids and their parents, and smoothing over any friction points to allow for consistent literacy acquisition in just 12 hours.
The future looks bright for the FUNetix app
Today, the FUNetix app is downloaded all over the world. From solving an individual challenge faced by his own son, to supporting thousands of families facing similar challenges, the American Youth Literacy Foundation and FUNetix are an example of how personal passion and innovative technology can disrupt existing systems to solve national and even global challenges.