Higher education students, especially those who experience attention deficit, who are transitioning into online learning feel disconnected from their classmates and find it hard to focus in online lectures. They find it hard to maintain motivation so they can stay engaged and get the most out of their classes.
My initial concept (shown in the sketch to the right), was a plugin for asynchronous content platforms such as Canvas or Moodle. It was originally an enhanced version of the existing module system that exists on these platforms. My design was intended to encourage breaking up long lessons, tracking progress clearly, and being able to self-assess and give feedback on the module and class at the end of each section of the lesson.
However, I thought back to my problem statement and the user interviews, and I realized that the last two needs I identified above were largely unaddressed with this initial concept
The most prominent pain points revealed in my interviews were explicitly related to synchronous content (like Zoom lectures), not asynchronous.
My feature prioritization for the reworked concept and solution are as follows:
The goals of ReactKit are primarily to encourage live feedback and engagement during synchronous lectures, therefore increasing motivation in an online learning environment. The success of these features could be quantitatively measured by:
Success would look like a higher number of messages sent after installation of the plugin (more users interacting with each other or at least asking questions to the lecturer), and a higher number of clicks in the Zoom window after installation compared to before, with number of clicks on average being maintained across lectures (users are aware of the new features and using them, and are maintaining that engagement across class sessions)
Given the time constraint, if I were to continue developing this project I'd continue user testing and using the success metrics determined above to continue iterating.
I'd also like to explore options for other platforms like Google Classroom - Zoom seems to be main option for universities but K-12 remote learners seem to usually use Google Classroom.
I think there's also an additional opportunity to improve on the interaction component of online learning through the possibility of navigating a virtual space and/or making customizable avatars. My solution helps ease some anxiety when it comes to interacting in class, but there is still the larger issue of making genuine connections and having conversations with classmates that I think warrants further research and development.
Overall, if I were to approach this project again I'd seek a more diverse panel of user testers. My secondary research was focused largely on students with attention deficit disorders who were particularly struggling with adapting to online learning, however I don't feel I was able to adequately represent that target group with the user testing group that I had, although I did receive crucial and valuable insight from the testing group I had. I'd also take the extra step during secondary research to talk to experts in teaching for special needs to gain some more insight on known approaches to online learning, as I feel my knowledge was limited by time constraints as well as solely relying on looking up scholarly articles on my own.