JASON Learning

Unifying a fragmented sharing experience across the portal to enhance study experience

JASON is an independent non-profit founded in 1989 by Dr. Robert D. Ballard. JASON provides an LMS platform with curriculum and learning experiences in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) for K-12 students, and high-quality professional development for teachers.

My Role

Working as part of a three person team, my role was to lead the design for the learning app. I followed the British Design Council’s Double Diamond process with its four phases: Discover, Define, Develop, Deliver.

Key deliverables

A number of deliverables were required for the project, including:

  • Initial project plan
  • Competitive analysis
  • User flow
  • Experience map
  • Wireframes
  • App map
  • Clickable prototype
  • Presentation to the client

Design process

Competitive analysis

We started the project by understanding our client — JASON— and their competition. We analysed 8 competitors in the e-learning space, with three identified as direct competitors, offering both lessons and multi-device functionality. The analysis also showed we needed to design for the mobile and tablet rather than focus on web platform. Unique selling points were identified, with sharing pictures, ability to tag and leave comments for instructors not available in majority of the 8 apps; however, we needed to find out if users wanted these.

User research

Our user research consisted of four steps:

  • screening surveys
  • preparation of interview questions
  • interviewee recruitment
  • conduct of user interviews

A key insight from our screening survey was the devices that users were active on:

Results also supported our choice of platform with 89% of respondents using a mix of desktop and tablet. Results also highlighted the importance of handoff functionality, with 75% of respondents regularly using multiple devices for lessons.

In total, we conducted 15 semi-structured user interviews. A key challenge during this process was identifying users who were available at relatively short notice to conduct interviews.

Synthesising our findings

Our findings showed a couple of key pain points:

  • Discovery of new content
  • Tagging and commenting
  • Using platform on multiple devices
Happy young Asia businessmen and businesswomen meeting brainstorming ideas about new paperwork project colleagues working together planning success strategy enjoy teamwork in small modern office.

Another key finding was that nearly all users wanted much more than just lessons for example, they want to access all their books within the platform, they were looking for support material along with the lessons.

“I want easy access to all my books, this way I don’t need to worry about carrying them with me…”

This really helped us to empathise with the users and understand their frustrations when using current podcast apps as well as identifying those positive aspects as well.

Stepping into our users shoes

From our findings, we created the persona of Lauren, Dave and, Peter. Doing so allowed us to keep the user at the centre of the design process, ensuring we met her goals. We created two scenarios in order to frame the problem and focus on the user needs as we moved forward.

Jason Curriculum_Page_2

Ideating

Conducting two rounds of design studio, we explored some ideas for the scenarios, subsequently using a feature prioritisation matrix to refine what should be included in the MVP. This showed there were unwanted features that were very time consuming and costly. Adding support material was in this category and was therefore dropped from the design.

Navigation

We identified that users found the ‘Stream’, ‘Collections’ and ‘Search’ tabs in the current JASON platform very confusing. In order to clarify the app, we removed these, modifying the information architecture of the app to either move this content into other more logical areas or remove the content entirely. The updated app map is below:

Improving rapidly

From the design studio process and the app map, we created user journey flows.

JASON Workflow_Page_1.png

Sketches & Wireframes

We developed this into a paper prototype, conducting usability tests, iterating and testing repeatedly. This showed the ‘discovery map’ — our initial idea for helping users to discover content — was very confusing; this was problematic as research showed we needed to help users discover content. Owing to time limitations, we dropped it, working instead on a simpler alternative: a ‘task list’ for students. Testing validated this alternative.

Jason CaseStudy sketch_Page_05
The new task list for student, displaying content related to the current subject.

We developed a mid-fidelity digital prototype, conducting further usability tests and refining the design before moving it into a high-fidelity mockup. Examples of this iteration process are as follows, with the early designs on the left and the mid-fidelity versions:

Jason Curriculum_Page_3.png

Usability testing showed, for example, the switch mode was confusing. Removing it from this screen allowed us to implement a more important feature that increased user engagement: the ability to view and add comments.

Jason CaseStudy sketch_Page_03

Testing further showed users were unsure whether the correct part of the clip was selected; a preview button was added accordingly. Following its implementation, however, users were overlooking and missing the share button beneath it. In the high-fidelity version the share button became more prominent.

Solution

The design process described above resulted in a high-fidelity prototype of the app made using Sketch and InVision, with the preview element animated in Principle to display that functionality.

Outcome

The re-designed JASON Learning Platform was received very positively by both the client and users. Users stated the platform was not only simple and ‘clean’ but helped them feel more confident when finding content.

Results

The new design of the app provides users with the ability to:

  • Easily discover and read/watch to lessons
  • Preview lesson content to aid discovery and time wasted opening a lesson only to find it is inappropriate
  • Engage with content more deeply by viewing and adding comments
  • Engage with the platform on multiple devices
  • Use handoff functionality

Future recommendations

Moving forward, my recommendations for the future of the JASON platform include:

  • Onboarding process. This would be a key requirement to ensure that users didn’t feel disoriented by the design changes to their platform from adding media.
  • Create, share and save custom collections. With original and diverse content, the ability to share custom media collection would be a key opportunity for JASON inline with their core brand values.
  • Increase discoverability of other material. As mentioned previously, we dropped a feature that was aimed at helping users discover related support material. This or a similar feature could significantly enhance the experience for users when studying.
  • Prioritising comments. A method of prioritising comments and removing those that are spam would significantly help to enhance the experience of users and help to increase user engagement and trust.