SOFTWARE FEATURE REDESIGN • UX DESIGN • UX RESEARCH
Providing accessibility to our curriculum library through simple selection of activities for instructional practices.
CLIENT: Learning Ovations
TEAM: UX Designer, Literacy Outcomes Specialists, CTO, Lead Developer
TOOLS USED: Adobe XD, Paper & Pen
TIMELINE: 4 weeks
Learning Ovations' current software system, A2i, has a lesson plan feature that provides limited choices for teachers to choose from. It is in a calendar format and is deemed as overwhelming for teachers to review 25 different lessons for the week for an average of four reading groups equating to 100 lessons per week. This only allow teachers to only select one activity per instructional practice for one group. Many times, teachers find themselves struggling to finish an entire lesson in one day.
In my approach, the prototype displays in a lesson menu format which allows teachers to explore a realm of endless lesson activities. In our new Lesson Menu feature, we are giving back the control for teachers by allowing teachers to choose which activity to teach with their students. Meanwhile, we are providing teachers the ability to add as many activities for a specific group and instructional domain.
THE LOWDOWN ON A2I
A2i is a web-based individualized student instruction program used by teachers across the nation to individualize their instruction through small groups, providing differentiated amounts of instructional time to spend with their students. One of the main components in our A2i system that drives student outcomes is the Lesson Plan. In Dr. Connor's research, teachers who utilize our lesson plan feature received better student outcomes than those who didn't.
As I was hearing these problems, I recorded some of these teacher quotes to define the problem and explored solutions.
Our team of literacy specialists were all hearing very similar problems and we knew that there has to be a change for something better. We identified that teachers need control of their own lesson plans. After all, teachers are the experts of their own students and we wanted to provide teachers with some responsibility on how and when to use their own lesson activities. After conversations with our stakeholders and development team, we gathered our 'Lesson Menu' team which was composed of our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Lead Developer, and me as the Literacy Specialist/Designer.
Before I dived into mocking up sketches and ideation, I took a look at a few of our competitors. How do other edtech companies allow teachers to create lesson plans? How do they streamline that particular experience to make it easier and convenient for teachers to use? I knew that as a teacher, I used my own created lesson plans, which was so troubling to make every week.
POWER TO THE TEACHERS
I took a look at two specific online lesson planning tools: Planbook and Planboard (by Chalk).
Both platforms were favored by teachers through the ease of use and the freedom of control. This was starting to become a reoccuring pattern and I realized that we have to be respectful of teachers' time in the classroom.
As a teacher, there are so many things to do in a day. Both sites however lacked the feature that A2i had already optimized: selecting pre-made lessons from their own district's curriculum.
QUESTIONS AND NOTES
I started off by taking notes of ideas that can improve our lesson plan. There were a lot of factors I had to consider:
My run-down notes as I was brainstorming about questions for the new lesson menu
STICKING WITH BRAND GUIDELINES
In my second revision, I added accordians to shorten the page length and added a container for the four different instructional domains. When collapsed, teachers would see their different groups with four subheaders to indicate each of the instructional domains. Teachers would be able to quickly find their groups' information without looking at a bunch of different lessons at once, which teachers have found overwhelming.
I went with using accordians here to reduce screen space and to make it not look so lengthy. It is easier for users to look at and the boxed containers allows them to focus on one group at a time.
CREATION OF GROUP COLORS
One reoccuring issue we ran into was the limited of colors we could use for the groups. In an average classroom, teachers create 4-5 instructional groups. However, what if there were classrooms that wanted 8 groups? We would then have to find different colors beyond the five group colors.
My CTO and I then collaborated to form a color palette that would work for up to 10 groups. We used new Tableau 10 color palette as a foundation to build our new A2i color palette. By using the already existing Tableau 10 colors, I adjusted the hue and saturation to bring in new variations of colors that would better match our brand guidelines.
CURATED COLOR PALETTE
This color palette was used in our brand guidelines and we matched it directly to the teachers' dashboard regarding each groups' information. When collapsed, teachers can see each group and click the bar to uncollapse view. This organizes information with ease.
OH, THE POSSIBLITIES YOU CAN TAKE!
Teachers are now able to select and add activities for each group as they see fit. By providing this control back to the teachers, they feel less overwhelmed by the abundance of activities offered for them. The accordian helps visually with providing just the information that the teacher wants to look at. I also allowed teachers to check off the activity if they have finished the lesson or remove the lesson if they no longer needed it. Once the lesson has been checked off as completed, it will be logged into a Completed Activties list on a separate screen, where teachers and administrators can look at.
WE'RE LIVE, BABY!
We took this site live in November 2019. Overall, first impressions was the ease of use and teachers love feeling like they're in control (as they deserve to!) of their own classroom and instructional practices. By providing this power back to teachers allows them to plan their day with ease and long gone are the pressure of making sure they finish their lessons in a day.
After we took this site live, teachers appreciated the freedom and flexiblity to add their own lesson plans to this new menu. They noted that they would like to see their students' names under each group while planning. Our older lesson plan does this, and we thought that feature was no longer needed because we assumed teachers would know their groups. This helped me learn that this is why usability testing is so important to conduct, even after all the ideation work is done! We are planning for this feature in our next iteration of the product.
USING THEIR OWN RESOURCES
As much as they loved the curriculum library of resources, they wanted to be able to fill in their own resources. If a teacher wanted to have generic "Reading Time" or "Journal Time", they want to be able to see that on the lesson menu. In this round of iteration, we included some universal activities that teachers can add. However, if they have different ideas of their own, we do not have a way to track those ideas. In our next iteration, that would be a great consideration so teachers can use their own resources as well.
COLLABORATE WITH TEAMMATES
None of this would have been made possible without the help of my entire company - from literacy specialists, to directors, to the development team, and most of all to teachers! Collaboration and active listening is key in making the dream work.
BE FLEXIBLE TO GENERATE GOOD IDEAS
Playing the role as a Literacy Outcomes Specialist and a designer, I was focused on making sure the end users received the best experience. There are so many different ways I could've done this and asking for constructive feedback from teammates allowed me to become a better designer through reiterations and implementing changes.
DIG DEEPER INTO THE "WHY"
I learned that by truly experiencing the real context in which users use lesson plans, I was able to empathize with how the user's motivation to use this product and also what drives them to use it this way. By observing how teachers plan, I was able to come up a final and clear solution.