NUMBERLY

Numberly is an online maths tutoring platform that supports its students' professional and personal development by integrating study and socialization in a mutually beneficial way. This 1 month design sprint was conducted in collaboration with Trish Ryan and Lucy Allen as part of University College Cork's MSc in Digital Design & Development 2020. All deliverables shown are my own work and my contributions to the project.

SUMMARY

Numberly was created based on provided user data in the form of interview transcripts and end user surveys. Numberly's e-tutoring platform provides equal ease of access to academic materials and to other users, equally encouraging interaction with academic work and the community. By mediating types of student-to-student and student-to-teacher social interaction in a content-focused way, Numberly empowers students to meet their academic goals more enjoyably and more effectively.

DESIGN QUESTION

How can

we provide online tutoring services​

In a way that

encourages networking and study in a mutually beneficial way

so that

students meet both their professional and personal development goals?

RESULTS

Design Research References (Personas & Use Cases)

Wireframes & Usability Insights

"Works Like" & "Looks Like" Adobe XD Prototypes

USER INSIGHTS

Surveys & Interviews (qualitative & quantitative data was provided as the starting point for this project), revealed that ROI for both students and tutors is equally based in social resources as academic ones.

Emphasis1 On 1 Interactions

Students place greater value in one on one interaction (student-to-student, tutor-to-student) resources over group interactions. The sense of value comes from the perception that one on one interactions are more effective and personalized than individual work or class wide experiences.

Social Opportunities Are Equally Valued to Academic Resources

Access to social development resources (class chats, one on one mentoring) is valued as an important part of effective learning. This is due to the social and cultural value of building connections as well as the positive emotional connection they add to the education experience.

Real Time Interactions Create Deeper Investment

Students claimed to be more likely to attend lectures and video sessions where they are asked to actively participate in real time.

USING SOCIALIZATION TO FURTHER EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE ONLINE

In order for Numberly to meet users' academic goals, online educational platforms must also provide avenues that nurture their social goals, without distracting from their academic activities. Our goal become to create a platform that provided ample socialization and interaction opportunities for users, but always within the context of the educational material and study activities. Before ideating, we conducted various design activities to capture the insights we gained in a narrative, including personas, user journey maps, and mind maps (the latter are not pictured as these deliverables were created by my colleagues). These rich design deliverables provided qualitative references to ensure our future design decisions were meeting our users' needs.

PRIMARY USER PERSONA: Grace

Grace logs in to Numberly for a live group session with her Maths tutor. She follows along watching them solve the homework together. When she has a question she enters it in the chat and her tutor sees it immediately and answers during the video. She also sends a private message to one of her virtual friends in the course, joking about last night’s episode of Love Island. At the end of the session her tutor puts up a poll in the course chat and she votes for next Tuesday at 7 pm as the time for the next live session. When the session is over she submits a 5-star review for the video and tutor quality. Wanting to warm up before she takes this week’s quiz, she challenges her virtual classmate to a few grinds (practice tests) on the material covered so far. When she goes to do the weekly quiz, she is pleased with the immediate 10/10 grade she receives at the end. Her profile shows she is the highest-scoring in the class. The next week’s material has not been uploaded yet, so she logs off of the application.

USE CASE

GOALS

Achieve 520 on Leaving Cert

Maintain Honours in all of her courses

Score a try in each rugby game of the season

TOUCHPOINTS

The above persona and use case were translated into the following user flow, which acted as a guide for the first round of prototypes. Grace's (primary user) flow was chosen to highlight key touchpoints where Numberly constructively melds learning and socialization together. The main stages of the flow were intentionally vague to allow for experimentation in the early phases of UX design.

STUDENT USER FLOW

  1. Log In​​

  2. Tutoring Live Session

  3. Math Grinds

  4. Weekly Quiz

  5. Log Out

RAPID PROTOTYPING

Paper prototyping and wireframing (Balsamiq) were used to test initial versions of the user flows. We were able to quickly test the efficiency of various layouts and ways of organizing the various sections of Numberly's interface. The following videos detail potential paths for Grace's user flow.

USER TESTING

Testing weas performed repeatedly with these low fidelity prototypes in order to "fail early and often". These tests were performed with current university students. Testing included first-click testing, navigation/tree testing, and action-goal prompts asking users to complete tasks to navigate through the user flow. From the testing data we were able to glean the following qualitative insights:

While students valued the simplicity of the navigation via large icons, the home page needs to feel less cramped and more aesthetically mature.
An easy "return to home" button or profile icon should be available from any feature of the app, without losing easy ability to focus on the task at hand (live session or quiz, etc.)
There must be ample visual queues to indicate when a student is chatting one on one, to the whole class, or directly to the tutor in order to address fear of sending a message to the wrong person.

The final prototype was designed to address these issues, as well as test a potential visual aesthetic for the software. 

HI-FI PROTOTYPE

The project resulted in hi-fi prototyping for a web version of Numberly. Stock images were taken from pexels.com, and icons from flaticon.com were used strictly for demonstration purposes. A Minimum Viable Product for Numberly would need to include databases for user information/lecture backlog/quiz and grade storage, payment processing for tutors, and live video hosting. The video below demonstrates the user flow for our primary user persona, Grace.

WHY GRACE LOVES NUMBERLY

BUILT FOR TECH SAVVY USERS

Clear icons with minimal text are implemented using familiar web design standards. In this way, the tech-savvy students, aged secondary school and up, are able to navigate easily without the use of hidden menus. By offering all inputs on one home page, navigation mistakes are negated and the interface clearly answers, "what can I do?" within the application.

BUILT FOR FOCUSING

Intuitive, single-mode user flows ensure students can stay focused while completing quizzes and grinds. Real-time chats are only enabled during class tmes, encouraging students to discuss the material and engage with their tutors in real-time, in the context of the lesson. Outside of live lessons, students can only send requests to participate in maths grinds together, encouraging relationship and skill building together.

BUILT FOR MATHS & CHATS

A large variety of resources are available in an intuitive side bar navigation, where students can easily view their personal information, log out, and quickly access the home page from wherever they are in the application. Live lessons, maths grinds, class-wide chat, and direct message to tutors encourage students to seek out person-to person help resources for the study material. Written resources, individual quizzes, and recorded lectures allow students to study individually.

REFLECTION

CREATING PLATFORMS THAT MEET INDIVIDUAL STUDENT NEEDS

The data provided for this project provided insight into what students perceive to be valuable in an online tutoring platform, but there was insufficient information regarding how students social interactions currently meld into their academic experience (either in-person or online). Our designs ultimately made assumptions about which types of interactions to try to control, limit, or encourage, when in reality we could not prove that those types of interactions exist, or how beneficial/detrimental they are to the effectiveness of tutoring.

Ethnographic research of both in-person and online tutoring, along with further student interviews would provide the qualitative and quantitative data to determine how students interact and whether that positively or negatively affects their learning. This would then determine which interactions should be limited or encouraged in order to provide the best learning experience. Perhaps there could be a little survey at the beginning of a students' membership asking how they value or desire certain types of interactions, since not every student is the same. Their responses could determine the settings the application begins with, for example, where in-class chat options are available or hidden during live lessons.