One Focus is a mobile application where teachers can take control of the digital devices of their students restricting access to their phones except for students with ADD/ADHD needing it.
My team and I were tasked to select a social responsibility topic, and develop a problem statement for one facet of the issue that can be impacted positively by a mobile app. Additionally, propose a prospective sponsor for the app, whose brand we can leverage in the visual design.
The start of this adventure begins when four adventurer’s meet in a tavern…wait, this isn’t how the story actually went but in needing to tell the story of this project I thought it’d be a silly and fun hook. This is what actually happened:
I assisted in the design of the teacher facing side of a brand new mobile application that the teachers can use to control mobile devices in their classroom. The solution me and my team reached was to allow teachers to control the student’s devices while allowing access to the students who need digital devices for assistive learning. My team and I reached this conclusion from interviews with our users, researching the current market for similarities, and multiple iterations until we were able to condense the problem.
- Teachers always had a difficult time keeping their students engaged especially with personal devices on the student
- Classic teacher solution was to confiscate all phones at the start of the class
- ADD/ADHD students usually had a waiver to use digital devices to assist their learning
- School districts may not train or let teachers know those students can use digital device leading into conflicts unless the student or parent is on top of it
- Digital devices are permiated throughout the school learning experience but needs to be controlled in a limited manner to allow for optimal engagement
- Teachers used their own personal techniques and management systems (sometimes restricted by school district) to organize how they shared content (this is important later as it made us realize my team and I didn’t need to address this behaviour)
From the interviews that were conducted, engagement and focus of students in a classroom was one of the more heavily impacted parts of teaching. Further, ADD/ADHD students needed special care but a teacher did not have the time or training sometimes to notice their needs.
- Most services only focused on content and content organizations like Teaching Management Systems (TMS)
- Services that did block, only blocked for everyone and everything but not on an individual basis
- Many services focused on communication with the teachers instead of taking the control of digital devices in the classroom
- Looking to save time the focus moved to having a class roster for individual blocking
- Another feature that would be easier to implement became the block everyone on the class roster with one click (this becomes the title of our product)
- Quick block so the utility and ease of use of the product when the teachers need to take control of the digital classroom so the students can focus on the teacher instead
And now, the problem: giving teachers control of student’s focus by minimizing mobile phone distractions.
Now our adventurer’s had a quest to complete to save the townsfolk from the annoying dragon…in reality we finally had a direction we are going towards with many solutions in mind.
- At the start of the design process I had too much broad scope, the design becomes a lot more fine tuned with each iteration
- As more testing and research was being completed I looked to focusing on one aspect other services may not have had;Preventing content from being used in class to those who did not need
- Allowing control of the classroom’s digital devices meant less time spent on trying to keep a track on managing student focus
- Wording for the final solution was important; The design went from paywall to locked to finally Focus Mode
- Visibility became important after many rounds of testing and so the button slider became larger
- On boarding was a big focus as testing revealed people did not understand what the application did
Hindsight is always 20/20 they say, and in the practice and execution of UX design I find this always to be true. If I had a time machine for every decision I would have the perfect UX product. But I do not, instead I have the knowledge I gained from this project to adapt and overcome into a new and better me as a designer.
We come to the conclusion and insight of our adventure, the dragon slayed, the treasure brought back and we should rejoice! But wait I realize that the story continues and we could have done better.
TAKEAWAYS & LEARNINGS
- I was able to gain insight into the whole of a design process while observing it from a lane that was not mine.
- I was able to influence decisions within the group and practice the art of each task without having to be responsible for it. For the responsibility of my own deliverables I gained valuable insight into what I was blocking in the long run for my team and what I gained and could have done better.
- Initially when I thought I knew partially how to do a usability plan, now I can safely say that I would change to be a lot more open ended in my tasks but still keep some rigidity. I would rethink some of the questions I have written to ask the user so I get a clearer picture. And the tasks would be a lot more general so I can test the idea, not the functionality of the button.
- Looking back I would organize and label the slide deck a lot better to show the iterations. I would show the iteration so that I could explain my story better just like I am explaining it here. I want to gain a more visual eye so this was a great experience in trying to tell a story well. At the start I thought having all this insight to my other teammates processes, ideas to brainstorm off of, and help them with their tasks when asked was diminish my involvement with the project. Instead it increased my involvement and insight with the solution we wanted to solve.
- Zooming out (eagle eye view) and zooming in (bugs eye view) is a hard balancing act. I now know better when to be looking at the details closely and when to zoom out to keep the big picture in mind. As a designer this is a crucial skill I am learning to avoid the pitfall that is being too close or far from your idea so you can deliver the product.
- Project management of other designers is a skill that is not taught anywhere. Being forced into the role I have gained better time management for myself as well as the people I worked with. I also gained more empathy and skill to teach/help/communicate ideas to other team members in a way they learn best.
- Miscommunication can happen very easily both in design of your product as well as your team. Being clear and consice on ideation is very much needed.