In 2015, I worked with a startup at UT building an app to allow students to collaborate outside the classroom. The primary purpose of the app was to enable students to communicate with other students & the professor easier than they could using a Facebook group. I was responsible for the UI & UX of the app so my job was to design and prototype the iOS & web versions of the app.
Professors and students are typically required to use multiple, typically clunky, apps on a daily basis. Professors usually have to manually enter large amounts of data about their courses to get up and running each semester, and students sometimes have to remember multiple sets of credentials because professors do not always use the same software. To address both of these problems, I designed the sign up & onboarding of the around Canvas, which allowed UT students to signup and login with the tap of a button using OAuth.
Most students are enrolled in anywhere from 4-7 classes per semester. Finding & joining Facebook groups for each course is a challenge, so I designed the on-boarding process where the user could easily join groups based on their schedule that was imported from Canvas.
As part of the onboarding process, students were encouraged to invite their friends to join and collaborate. Nobody likes getting more email, especially automated emails from apps you may have never heard of. To lessen the annoyance, I included detailed descriptions of why recipients were receiving messages from the app and who was inviting them.
As a heavy Slack user, I realized how powerful real-time communication can be, but also how overwhelming it can be. To address the constant need to keep up with the conversation, I organized posts into threads. Communication was still real-time (with notifications of new posts & comments), but more organized so students could refer back to conversations at a later time to address cases such as “I saw a question about this homework problem two days ago, let me see what other students were saying about it.”
Working in the educational software software space was new for me and a great learning experience. Coming up with design solutions for users who do not always value well thought design (large education institutions) was challenging, but I am extremely proud of the progress made. The app is currently in development.