We began this project as a course project with a very simple and broad initial brief -Design A Video Conferencing system for an Indian School who have now shifted their base online because of the pandemic.
We proceeded forward through a series of steps to make some sense of this brief, contextualize, and act on it to prototype something that may help schools improve the quality of their online classes and sessions.
Armed with this vague idea of what our product has to be, we moved ahead to conduct a few interviews with our primary and secondary target group, to understand the underlying problems through Contextual Inquiry.
We employed the Master/Apprentice approach to fully understand the system and concerns from the teachers, parents and administrators, while we could easily gel in with the students as partners to understand their point of view.
We set a few goals for ourselves to keep in mind as we began to analyse and interpret the data from various interviews. These were:
- Figuring out Key Breakdowns in the whole system
- Observe intricacies in the current interactions and compare them with those of an offline school
- Finding approaches to recreate the experience of an offline school
To understand the system better from the eyes of both our primary users, we drew up two quick work models, one from both viewpoints. We were able to identify a few key major breakdowns from the same.
Then we further continued the process by doing a bottom-up affinity mapping on a Virtual Whiteboard and were able to list down detailed insights, major breakdowns and a few design ideas to try and tackle those issues.
After finishing a few passes on the affinity mapping, we collated all our key insights which we could then refer to as the design actionable opportunities.
- Most of the current tools are not optimized for a classroom setting, and thus people have to use a mix of various different tools.
- Students are undergoing much more stress than before, both physical and mental.
- The aspects of schools apart from pure academics are largely ignored due to lack of tools, e.g. Extra Curriculars/Informal Interactions.
- Parents and teachers are trying to support the kids, but it’s not an easy task.
- Teacher-student, teacher - teacher and student-student interactions, have decreased by a lot
- Quickly learning how to use online tools hasn’t been easy for everyone.
- Provide a better monitoring system to parents, teachers and students.
- Setting up an Invigilation system to conduct exams to prevent students to cheat or copy answers.
- Setting up a system to Increase informal interactions amongst both students and teachers alike.
- Creating a disciplinary system to control and regulate student activities during class.
- Be mindful of health concerns and work on ways to minimize risks.
- Making an easily accessible and intuitive system for non-tech savvy people.
- Setting up a Community platform for troubleshooting, with due rewards and incentives to active participants.
- Better Input systems for academic data to aid quizzes and assignments.
- Easy, accessible and integrated content creation tools for teachers to quickly prepare for class.
The primary user group that our product is aimed at is students who are currently studying in grades 6th-10th in the middle class - upper-class schools, from all genders.
The inclusion criteria are simple, someone who has access to an internet-enabled device, camera and microphone, and is attending a school who is switching to an online mode for the time being.
We defined five personas from our contextual inquiry and affinity map, keeping major breakdowns, insights and demographics in mind; as a model of reference for us to define our User Experience Goals.
Vartika is a student in grade 10th. She is a high performing student and an extrovert and used to love going to school, to meet and interact with her friends. She is in a CBSE school, in the city of Mumbai. She reads a lot and loves to take part in debates, and has also won a lot of awards in various competitions. She takes part in all the Cultural Activities and is a very active student, both in Extra Curriculars and Academics.
Now, with the onset of online schooling, She misses all these other aspects of school and feels that the online classes are not productive at all since she doesn’t really get to interact with anyone and just has to keep listening to audio all day. She can’t wait to go back to her school, bunk a few classes to actively catch up on all these missed activities!
User Experience Goals
With this, we defined our primary user group as students who are currently studying in grades 6th-10th in middle-upper class schools, from all genders. The inclusion criteria are simple, someone who has access to an internet-enabled device, camera and microphone, and is attending a school who is switching to an online mode for the time being.
Keeping this in mind, we set up our User Experience Goals which form the backbone of our final Design Ideas and implementations.
- The User must be able to connect with friends, and imitate school interactions.
- The User must not miss out on the experience of other school activities like competitions and events.
- The User should stay engaged with the classes and stay updated on all relevant school notices.
- The User must be able to join and stay in class on time, without any hassle.
- The user should face minimal health issues while using the product for prolonged hours.
- The User should be able to retrieve information lost due to technical errors.
Use Case Scenarios
In order to convey and visualise our design ideas, we created use case scenarios for our primary user group. These scenarios include major breakdowns users faced, and how our design fits into their life.
You were late to class the third time this week. You are unable to keep track of all the classes, assignments and often end up missing out on useful notices and announcements.
The home screen welcomes you with a clear timetable for the day and takes you directly to the classroom if the class has started. Also gives you a quick overview of any assignments or notices.
You miss running into people during recess breaks and gossiping for hours with batchmates, seniors and juniors alike. Also, now you cant just go to the staff room and clarify any doubts you may have
The Campus Mode Screen allows you to join up any group and begin talking. There are two separate rooms, one for your own class, and one is the canteen area which is accessible to everyone. You can also request the teachers to have a private talk with any of the teachers in the Staff Room Area.
You want to gossip/discuss with your friends during class, but you cannot as if you turn the mic on, your voice would be heard by everyone in the class, including the teacher.
Our App allows local rooms for smaller groups of students in class, termed as the Chit-Chat mode, wherein students can talk to their neighbours(randomly assigned per class) for some time.
You just don't feel productive during an online class.
We added a feedback/progress tracker and introduced a few achievements to motivate students to stay more active in class.
The prolonged exposure to screen and sitting in one position leads to fatigue and health problems.
The app would encourage you to rest your eyes by doing a few exercises and remind you to turn on the blue-light filter. It would also remind you to stay hydrated and fix your posture.
You don't enjoy the online experience of other class activities.
We added this mode to simulate the experience of class activities wherein one student is presenting/performing while the others listen. The others can use audio and visual queues to express their claps and appreciation for the presenters. Special Speaker or Celebrity sessions can be facilitated through the same.
Here are my teammates' Behances! Check them out too!