I created Glassroom from concept to clickable prototype with a lean User Experience (UX) methodology and UX techniques. My design partner, Anu, and I worked within a small timeframe of 2 weeks to showcase a viable solution to a current educational problem faced by design students. This experience made me realize just how important it is to involve and consider the user in each aspect of the design process.
"If you want to design something exceptional for people, then get them involved in the process" - RT
Behind the Scenes
What keeps students up at night?
While conducting surveys with 20 students, ranging 18–34 years old, we learned that other students are struggling to find help when teachers are not available. Anu, design partner, and I began to explore this problem space in-depth. From the data collected, we discovered that students preferred learning online because they can learn on their own pace and can receive personalized attention. Students valued feedback more from teachers and peers than from outside experts and their friends.
After completing the surveys, students, who had trouble learning online, expressed that many websites were distracting and not interactive, and there was no one to immediately ask questions to.
What's the problem?
There was one statement that we repeatedly heard through one-on-one interviews and online surveys from students…
There is a lack of “human-to-human interaction" when learning online.
After surveying and understanding learners’ pain points, we identified the problem we are solving:
The lack of design help for students from experts when teachers are unavailable.
How did I give this product a consistent look and feel?
I created a mood board that visually displayed possible color schemes, font styles, sizes, and weight, icons, and symbols to better design a product that complemented learning and technology. This mood board was a live document that changed throughout the product development process. The board was shared with other user experience designers, visual designers, web developers, and the business team.
Studying Learners' Behavior
Key Insights from Iterations
I tried the mobile-first approach, and failed. Testing lo-fidelity prototypes with students, I noticed they preferred to do collaborative design work on desktops or laptops rather than mobile devices. Glassroom requires certain screen real estate to support all these features in a session: drawing on the work board, chatting through text with peers, and meeting with tutors through a webcam.
During the second iteration, a user wanted to inform the TA of her learning needs and was not open to adding her sensitive information to the description box. To resolve this issue, we added a checkbox field with a security symbol to ensure users can communicate their learning disability in a secure fashion.
We noticed users hesitating before clicking the “connect now” button. While thinking aloud, the majority said they want the option of searching for another TA or cancel search instead of immediately being connected to a TA. To fix this issue, we added a 5-second countdown and a cancel button.
How was this product simple to use for learners?
By using a closed card sorting technique, I watched how 5 students placed keywords into already-created categories and learned, by asking them to think aloud, their thought process during this exercise.
For example, “get feedback” and “find assistant” were placed in the “learn” category and “lectures” and “presentations” were more commonly placed in the “class resources” category. Identifying these patterns informed where students will most likely find information within the product.
Conducting Market Research
Once I clearly understood the problem by listening to students speak about their learning experiences with teachers, peers, and online programs, I began brainstorming possible solutions to this problem. I did a comparative feature analysis of various technologies to identify what types of features were available and what was missing in the most widely used learning products today.
While creating the chart, I discovered that the majority of products lacked a design tool that allows student and educators to co-create and edit diagrams and visual interfaces. A shared work-board — this feature could be the differentiator amongst the compared products.
Establishing the Design Language
After completing the prototype of this product, I would like to continue testing it to identify what is the most essential feature. I am curious whether students would use a mobile application as a companion to this web-based learning application. For example, I can create a companion touch-screen application to Glassroom that allow students and teachers to make edits or annotations on the work-board using a stylus or finger.
Glassroom can be implemented into teaching institutions where students can benefit from expert, on-demand, online help. For example, a design bootcamp may have tutors go through a training program to get certified and teach it's students. Tutors from various time zones can provide immediate help to students when teachers are not readily available.
Interested in working together or have questions/ comments? Feel free to connect.