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Google Classroom Upgrade
Help Teachers Make Digital Lessons
Educators are facing even greater challenges during this global pandemic than they typically are. Looking at one of the most common learning management systems, Google Classroom, I aimed to find areas that could be improved in order to provide a more powerful tool for educators and students.​​​​​​​ 
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Improving Education Tools
Six teachers, all current users of Google Classroom, participated in multiple research sessions. Initial user interviews revealed a few key areas to focus in on:​​​​​​​

1. Class Comments: There are multiple ways for students to comment, as well as send a message to a teacher. Despite this it is sometimes unclear to teachers when and where students have commented, and there are currently no visual notifications to alert them of new comments from within Google Classroom.

2. Scanning for Students: With almost every adult having a smartphone it's easy to take for granted how inaccessible a tool like this may be for students. While remote students still need to be able to print out and finish worksheets, but many don't have access to a proper scanner or smart phone. To account for this a scan feature should be integrated, imperfect though it may have to be.

3. Media Capture: Teachers currently rely on a grab-bag of independent apps and browser plugins to create videos for their classes. Many school districts even implement multiple Learning Management Systems, creating more confusion around which tools can be used with which classes. A tailor-made tool, accessible from within Google Classroom, could help streamline the creation of more advanced content.
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Designed for a Range of Users
With a group of research participants who represent a wide variety of specializations - visual arts, music, science, math, english, Spanish and computers - I created two personas to represent the needs & experiences I saw for teachers. Additionally I created a persona to represent students as they are clearly the other integral user group.
Teachers: The focus of this design effort is really to improve the usability and tools available through google classroom. These personas represent two kinds of needs and savviness with technology. Mrs. Taylor is focused in the arts and has an inherent need for visual communication, she's also a bit less tech-savvy so needs any new features to have a shallow learning curve. Mr. Oakes naturally is more on the technical side, so he'll be looking for more advanced capabilities but mostly just wants to save time.


Students: Since google classroom is a bridge between teachers and students I wanted to include a student persona to ensure that user group would be considered where appropriate. This persona is based on an interview with one student (insert age/grade) and context provided by the teachers.


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User Flows
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Use flows for teachers highlight their different needs, but also how their workflows can align. Mr. Oakes is looking to be able share content on his screen and follow up with a built-in interactive question to ensure his students are actually watching the video & understand it (a highly requested feature). Mrs. Taylor mostly just needs to be able to record herself directly and quickly edit out any sections she doesn't feel are beneficial to share.


The important aspect for Gary's user flow is that the google classroom interface is different for students, so the placement of the feature will need to have a unique implementation. 


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Understanding User Perception
Treejack: Used to capture where teachers think the messaging feature should exist within Google Classroom. This was intended as a replacement to the comment feature that is currently present. The results were muddy, there was no clear consensus on where this feature should live. Believing that this implies a classic messenger style feature is incompatible with the current site I opted to add some simple improvements to the comment feature.​​​​​​​

Card Sort: For general prioritization of media capture features, meant to aid in defining layout within that undefined space. This showed that having the ability to record video, both from a laptop camera as well as other devices, as well as to trim it were unanimously considered the core "basic" tools.
Information Architecture: This is a representation primarily of the existing google classroom sitemap. The “capture” feature would be a new addition to google classroom and would cover media creation tools and a scanning tool. Comments is highlighted to show how it’s position in the architecture is potentially problematic.
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Prototype & Feedback​​​​​​​
An interactive prototype, encompassing the media capture tools and improvements the Google Classroom comment feature, was built and tested with users (shown above). Here's what they had to say about it:
The comment feature needed some slight visual tweaks, improving the legibility of the numbers:
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Refining Video Capture
One of the biggest take-aways from the usability tests was that the video capture feature was not easily understood. The functionality was there but users seemed to have trouble grasping how to operate the tool. A revised design, with some changes to functionality, was quickly mocked up and tested against the original version in an A/B test. This served as a means to judge if the revisions were headed in the right direction. Users overwhelmingly preferred the new design, or at least felt they comprehended it's use better.
 To ensure the new design truly met users' needs, and improved on the learning curve, another interactive prototype was built and tested with users. Results showed that the tool was easily understood across age ranges, an issue with the previous version. 
Google Classroom Upgrade
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Google Classroom Upgrade

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