For this project I was responsible for the research, information architecture, interaction design and testing, and one of my colleagues made sure it all looked nice visually and fitted the specs we used.
research and ideation.
To find out what teachers needed to create the study activities they need, I asked a lot of them to explain to me how all of their different study activities worked and why. All the features and settings they named I wrote out on post-its and sorted them to see what similarities there are between study activities.
Below you see the creator of an interactive video activity. Note that the only thing we really ask for is the actual video and all the other parts are optional and therefore hidden away. This makes creating an activity very easy but at the same time potentially very powerful, teachers can make it as complicated and extensive as they like. This means that new users don't have to spend lots of time and effort to learn how to use the platform but can explore at their own pace while still being able to use the platform for their courses.
In the center, there is the essential module visible, in this case, that’s adding a video. On the bottom of the module, you see a bar with settings that can be expanded. This is where the non-essential settings can be found. In a previous iteration, this bar was white but it turned out that that made it look too much like part of the standard creation flow and teachers kept opening it. To visually separate it more from the module it's now grey which makes it look more like it doesn't have to be viewed. On the left of the module the numbers that indicate the order of tasks can be seen connected by a line with on the bottom a floating action button to add more modules to this activity.
Our creators are usually experienced by teachers as easy to use and intuitive. They feel like when you have successfully created one activity type you can create them all, which means a simple yet powerful experience has been achieved.
For teachers using an online component for their courses, it all starts with thinking about how and what, and then creating it. At the same time this is often perceived as the hardest and most tiresome part. Learning to use a platform is seen as relatively difficult and translating their vision into the interface tricky. Next to providing a consistent and easy experience across all study activities, we needed to provide enough flexibility to allow for tons of different setups, since no two teachers teach the same way. To make sure the learning curve is as flat as possible I designed the creators for every study activity to be as similar to each other as possible -- learn to use one and you can use them all, and to hide all features that aren’t used by 80% of users. This resulted in teachers praising us for how easy it is to create study activities in our platform, despite us having many different tools. It made using our tools having a big advantage over using tools from different suppliers because with us the teacher only has to learn how to create something once.
study activity creators.
This revealed that every study activity has one main task without which there is no study activity, and there are lots of optional things that can be added. For instance, an interactive video activity can't exist without a video, but it can exist without description. Or an assignment can't exist without assignment description, but it can without groups or a deadline. This formed the base of the concept that revolves around the base element, to which all kinds of different modules can be added. For instance, an assignment can be made into all kinds of different ones by adding modules for things like handing in or peer reviewing. Each module would, in turn, be made up of its most essential parts and optional parts hidden inside an expandable settings sheet. For instance, a module for peer reviewing can't function without review criteria and a deadline, but settings like how many reviews each student has to do or whether students can see others' reviews can easily be set to a sane default which most teachers won't want to change, which means they can easily be hidden.
Testing which settings to hide and which settings to even provide I did user tests during which I asked teachers which setting they would remove if they could choose one, and which setting they would keep if they had to remove all but one. After this was built and released we also did some minor iterations based on the usage data we observed and feedback from users.
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