The initial stages of the project involved extensive research to better understand the user experience of myCourses. I started with evaluating the existing site structure and interaction flows, and conducting a competitive analysis. In addition, a user survey was conducted of the two user groups: students and faculty. After the survey, a group of students were interviewed to better understand their usage and the issues they face using myCourses.
What do the users currently feel about MyCourses?
Students frequently use only 3 out of the 12 features offered by myCourses. Users are also not fully aware of the various features available, partly because their professors don't use those features.
Inefficient communication & collaboration tools
60% of surveyed students and 40% of surveyed faculty do not use the messaging/mailing system offered by myCourses. Several students also expressed difficulty in interacting with the existing discussion boards and recommended the need of a robust communication system that would allow them to contact faculty and set up office-hours appointments through myCourses.
Inefficient navigation system
Accessing course content and assignment submission is inefficient. The most common complaint was the fact that students have to scroll down to access their courses, and the organization of content in the content browser makes it hard to find information.
A significant number of complaints came not from the site structure itself, but the failure of faculty to update and organise content and put up due dates in the calendar and dropbox.
After the survey, I asked myself - What is the purpose of myCourses? Of course, it is a course management tool and to that end it should provide students with the information they need with as little friction as possible. But students engage with this academic tool every day, so it should also do more than just inform.
This redesign is built on the idea that myCourses should act as a companion. Along with giving students the support and information they need during each semester, it should help them progress in their classes and aid their mental well being. The interface should be stress-free, fun and engaging.
Ongoing Onboarding Model
This model aims to achieve two main goals:
1) Welcome new students to the website and make them comfortable with the new experience.
2) Make students aware of the features myCourses offers and how they can use those to improve their workflow and productivity.
myCourses welcomes students and makes them comfortable with the new experience. It briefly tells them what myCourses is about and then asks them to go onward to their dashboard.
Students receive a quick, short email that informs them about the major features of myCourses, such as access to course content, task list, chat system and dropboxes.
Personalized Dashboard Messages
Students get personalized dashboard messages on the homepage. These range from messages that help students schedule appointments with their professors to just giving them recognition after a stressful week.
For the first 10 days, myCourses will familiarize students with the basic functions it offers such as course content, course updates, task list, and user guide. Tips will pop up during users' sessions at contextually relevant moments.
First Key Action
For the rest of the semester myCourses will gently nudge students in form of these tips to improve their work flow and time management.
Learn more about what myCourses offers through this handy user guide.
Intuitive Access to Course Content and Deadlines
The focus was to make it easier for students to track their upcoming assignments and deadlines, while ensuring they are rewarded for their hard work and progress. Other than reorganising content on the homepage, I introduced a dedicated task list and re-imagined the assignment submission system.
Upcoming Task List
A dedicated task list at the top of the homepage helps students keep track of upcoming assignments and course updates, increasing their productivity and organization. Students can upload assignments directly from the task list for efficient submissions. They can also check off completed tasks, add custom tasks or reorder existing tasks based on priority.
Dropbox is the assignment submission system on myCourses. Smart dropbox creates a dropbox for each assignment the faculty uploads, eliminating the need for faculty to input the same information twice - once for the assignment and then for the connected dropbox. This removes the issue of missed or incorrectly named dropboxes. Students can easily find these assignments/dropboxes on the 'All Dropboxes' page.
Dropbox Submission Modal
The Dropbox Submission Modal is accessible through the task list, homepage and course page. It enables easy access to assignment-specific dropboxes. Students can see assignment details and past submissions, drag and drop files or upload through their google drive or myCourses locker. What if they don't have a file? They can submit text or a link as well.
On submitting files on time, students get a summary of their submissions to review along with a message congratulating them for submitting their assignment on time.
When a student submits an assignment that has a higher grade weightage they get a more rewarding message like this dancing star.
Give a helping hand
How can myCourses help students when they are not doing well? With the use of relevant copy, illustrations and features such as custom reminders and progress reports, myCourses can help get students back on track.
Overdue tasks will be marked in red, with a different icon in the task list.
Dropbox Submission Message
If a student submits an assignment late, the dropbox summary message will change accordingly. Students will also get an option to contact their professors since they submitted the assignment late.
Set a Custom Reminder
Students can set up custom reminders for assignments in myCourses, such as an essay due at the end of the semester.
Check your Progress
Students can check their progress through the semester and make sure they are on track. Highlights tells the student what courses they are doing well in and what courses they need support with.
Engage in conversations
There was a need to create a support system that facilitates easier and faster communication between faculty and students. I created two communication channels - a private chat, and a commenting system.
Built-in Chat Functionality
Students can contact their professors or peers through the built-in chat system in myCourses. They can mark important messages from their professors with a star, find that one important file the professor sent, and even give a topic to each conversation. Topics are just like subjects in emails and help give easy context to the conversations.
Full Screen Chat Window
Find all files shared
Give and Get Feedback in Real Rime
Students can comment on any content put up by the professor in real-time, asking questions or keeping professors accountable for updating content. They can even select and comment on specific areas of an image.
Using email notifications for action
Relevant and timely notifications are key to get people on a schedule. Of the surveyed students, 40% of surveyed students spent 5 - 30 minutes per visit on myCourses. When students are away from myCourses, they can choose to get a daily activity summary outlining the recent updates and upcoming deadlines.
myCourses On the Go
Students get an email notification reminding them that they have a due date in 15 minutes with no submissions made yet. This interaction explores how the student can quickly submit a link to dropbox from their mobile before the deadlines passes.
Create a new Task
Chat Pop up
Full Screen Chat Window
HOW DID IT GO?
It was incredibly rewarding to take on a problem and create a solution for an application that my classmates and professors now use every day. Redesigning myCourses pushed me to create a whole design system from start to end: an ongoing onboarding experience, several core pages and a mobile interaction.
Moving ahead, I would like to envision a better end of semester experience for students once they have successfully finished all of their assignments for the term. I'd also like to explore how myCourses could better help the students’ academic standing, if they’re not able to finish the semester on a positive note.
Take a deeper dive into how I got to the final solution from concept to prototype.See the process