Reconnecting teachers and students in the digital classroom.
Research: User Interviews, Comparative Analysis, Affinity Mapping, Persona Creation, Guerilla Usability Testing
Prototyping: Storyboards, User Flows, Hierarchy, Wireframes, Clickable Prototype
When classrooms were forced to move online, it is estimated that classroom engagement plummeted to 60%. (Barnum, Bryan 2020) Digital learning poses barriers that are not faced in a traditional classroom setting. The creation of MyClass helps mitigate some issues teachers and students were facing primarily through the use of tailored student and teacher profiles and easy real time communication.
What are major pain points that are associated with distance/remote learning?
The target audience is people who are impacted by distance learning. These people are either teaching or learning remotely using sites like Canvas or Google Classroom. This audience has some experience with distance teaching/learning and participated in the first wave and are now preparing for the new school year to begin online.
To conduct my interviews I held 35 minute meetings via Zoom. For this project, I interviewed four people from my personal network. Of these interviewees three are teachers and one is a graduate student. The objective of these interviews was to better understand potential barriers that are faced during online learning/teaching.
Subject: Pod Teaching, All subjects
Subject: Computer Science, Work Experience
Area of study: Physical Therapy
After completing my interviews, I had three memorable points to focus on:
Technology in the form of apps and Zoom meetings are being heavily utilized across classrooms regardless of the grade being taught or the subject.
There was an emphasis on the lack of “connected” feeling.
Getting to know new students or shyer students is difficult.
After completing my interviews, I conducted a plus/delta, task analysis, and feature inventory of the two frequently mentioned applications, Google Classroom and Canvas. Through this analysis I was able to determine, that each platform had created an effective digital space to share lecture notes and daily tasks, but neither had yet factored in the need for easy interaction between peers or students and teachers. Each site featured some comment capability, but both were lacking real time updates and easy one to one interfacing.
I mapped out each comment and categorized what my interviewees said using Miro. Some of the categories include: Methods for Class Interaction, Class Collaboration, and Delivery of Feedback.
Location: New York City
“If I had a way to get to know my students better, that would make my experience as an online teacher so much better.”
•low interaction/engagement from students due to external barriers (no tech, limited knowledge of tech, lack of wifi)
•camera is intimidating to students, limiting the face to face interaction
•difficulty determining when a student needs help in an online setting or has a question
In the morning I log onto my class Zoom meeting for the day and allow students into the class from the waiting room. I then deliver the lesson for the day, sharing my screen with students so they are able to see the PowerPoint slides, videos, or visual cues for the lesson. The lesson is also shared in our classroom if students want to look ahead or follow along on their own screen. After the lesson, I leave time for students to ask questions about the assignments.
In the afternoon I grade previous assignments and plan for the next set of lessons. I will also pause for a lunch break in my kitchen. After lunch I hold office hours for all of my classes. Students are able to drop by for a quick question or work on assignments with peers.
In the evening, I log out for the day and leave my computer and virtual classroom for the day.
•a way to learn about new student’s (their preferred learning styles, favorite items, etc.)
•an easy way to communicate with students about assignments
•a way to provide assistance to students via real time messaging or commenting
•to better connect with students in an online classroom setting
•communicate effectively with students about upcoming assignments/past due assignments
•provide individualized assistance to students
Problem Statement 1:
Sarah needs a way to get to know her students because she wants to be able to build relationships within her online classroom.
Problem Statement 2:
Sarah needs a way to effectively answer individual questions because she needs to be able to assist all of the student's in her online class with assignments.
In the storyboard a teacher is facing the challenge of transitioning her classroom online. As she begins the process, she notices a lack of connection and engagement with her class. Students are complaining about having difficulty finding assignments and response time to questions. In need of a better way to engage with her class, she downloads MyClass. The app enables her to better communicate with her students and get to know them throughout the school year, just as she would have in her classroom.
Task Goal: A new user creates an account as a teacher.
Card Sort Analysis
After conducting a 30 card open sort with five users from my network, I was able to determine what was important to users and how they wanted the app to be organized. The top ten categories were: System Settings, Help, Communication, Display Messages, Email, Create Account, Login Information, Student Information, New Account, and Online Classes.
I used this input when finalizing the hierarchy of the app before I moved onto to the prototyping stages.
To create the higher fidelity wireframes for this project I used Adobe Xd. Theses wireframes are designed to fit the dimensions of an iPad or tablet, which is the main type of technology students are interfacing with and teachers are planning for.
I conducted usability by guerilla testing my prototype with five people in my household. I had them complete three tasks and observed their actions and commentary as they used the prototype.
After conducting the first round of usability testing, there was an 84% success rate for completion of the given task scenarios. Some comments made to improve the original design included:
•Making the home screen resemble other login screens by having one larger log in button and a smaller new user link
•Create drop down menus to minimize the amount of buttons present on a screen
•Ensure a "go back" option is visible in all screens of use
The initial prototype of the app had an 84% success rate with the five people I tested it on. Of these five people two were college aged students currently taking summer classes online.
When I had the original idea for this app, the reward system is what set it apart from existing online classrooms and teaching tools. Positive feedback and some type of reward (sticker, candy, smiley face drawn on an assignment) are an integral part of in person classrooms that act as a motivator and a way to build rapport with students. For future testing, I would want to flush out the reward system fully and run trials with students to see if this has more of an impact on their learning.