Online Education Platform Revision
A revision of the online education platform that was used by all primary and middle schools in Wuhan during the pandemic.
Storyboard, User Research
May 2020 - June 2020
The revision added live commenting, a function that divides class videos by content, and children mode for users that do not have adequate reading and understanding capability because of age and lack of learning.
At the beginning of 2020, when COVID-19 spread in China, in order to ensure the safety of people, the home quarantine policy was implemented in all regions. All schools switched to online courses while various online educational tools and platforms were used. All the schools except colleges in Wuhan used an application called "education cloud platform".
This platform got a large number of complaints from many students, parents, and teachers. Most were talking about how inconvenient using this application is. So I wonder, how can I redesign the platform to improve the user experience?
Under the home quarantine policy, all the schools implemented online courses. Schools use normal platforms like education cloud platform, Tencent Class, Dingding, and so on. Some other online streaming platforms like Tencent QQ and Bilibili are also used.
Teachers are arranged to either teach via videos or teach via live streaming.
Students take classes at home. Primary and middle school students have their adult family members with them as supervisors. They also submit homework online via various platforms.
By browsing comments of this application in the apple store, I found out and summarized the problems below:
There is no “Remember Me” function so every time the users have to type in the username and password; sometimes a registered account is shown as “doesn’t exist”; the wording is not clear so the users don’t know which account to use.
The place where the homework is posted always varies; inconvenience and incompleteness of information post; no searching function.
The order of documents will change after submitted; the submitted exams sometimes had problems; the solution of the picture uploaded will be influenced.
Frequent failure of sending notification
There is only letter grade but no scores, which is inconvenient to some teachers.
The answer sheet is too complicated to fill in and the set up is problematic.
I interviewed 2 people, one has a little brother who's been using the application to take classes and another is a college student who wants to complain about the current online teaching method.
Q: What do you think is the biggest problem when your little brother is using the platform to take classes?
A: For me, it’s that I don’t have an account so I cannot know how he’s doing if I am not with him. Also, all the classes are videos of a single teacher and there’s no immediate interaction, so my brother will not pay attention to the class if there are no others present.
Q: Is there any inconvenience when you were using Tencent Class?
A: Yes, because it is not exclusively for our class, there are a lot of other online courses, so we cannot directly get into our classes when open the app. I think the live streaming classes on bilibili are great because we can send our comments and they will show on the screen in an obvious way. In this way, our teacher can react immediately. However, other platforms cannot do this and sometimes teachers even cannot see our comments.
User Pain Points
From all the research above, I obtained the following user pain points:
There isn’t a comprehensive platform that meets all the needs so they have to switch between multiple platforms back and forth.
Their interaction with teachers is not as efficient and immediate as it was at school.
The failure of notification disturbs the completion of homework and exam.
They cannot do a convenient and safe upload.
They cannot know how their kids are doing in class immediately and accurately.
They worry about online teaching would decrease the quality of education and the time teachers spend on students.
They don’t have the ability or time to use a complex and inconvenient platform.
I got a total of 14 responses.
From the responses I knew that:
The interaction is delayed, not obvious, and inconvenient is a relatively large problem to the respondents.
For the function that can help to learn
The popular options are all for improving the fluency and level of convenience of the interaction, such as drawing on the screen and displaying comments on the screen.
For exam and homework
The majority of respondents care about the in time and even in advance notification of the dates.
So I come to this core pain point that I want to solve:
The interaction is not immediate, inconvenient, and not obvious.
The notification is not on time.
This is John, an 11-year-old, 6th-grade student.
He used his phone to take classes at home.
His mom was by his side to watch him taking classes as the teacher required.
But when mom’s out, he immediately quit the interface and started playing.
He was caught playing by his mom who suddenly went back home.
Mom was worried since he was not paying attention.
Also, the teacher is not familiar with John.
John also doesn’t like taking classes at home because he cannot play with his friends.
This is his least favorite class: Math. The teacher was not as considerate as the one who taught him at school, so he wasn’t asked about whether he understood the class content after the class.
Mom noticed that instead of being solved by teachers, all the problems were ignored by John.
John doesn’t like the online classes because there’s no classmate talking or answering questions.
User Journey Map
Students in primary and middle school who take classes at home because of COVID-19
Teachers who teach at home
Parents who want to know how their kids are doing in class
Students learning via phones and tablets at home
Teachers teach at home
Parents use phones to check kids’ learning status at anywhere in anytime
Students learn without any disturbance
Teachers teach as conveniently and directly as it was at school
Parents can better let kids study at home
Present with Pinyin
Live words interaction
Important date notification
Better interaction experience
Adaption to real-life experience and keep online advantages
More sense of security
Teachers and students teach and learn as usual.
Complete homework and do the review in an efficient and convenient way
Interact with students in an immediate and direct way
Get to know how children are doing in a fast way and be able to talk to teachers in an easier way
After the revision, the platform will improve the interaction experience, make the learning and teaching experience as close as it was at school, and meanwhile keep the advantages of online classes. Furthermore, it also adds functions that can help parents keep track of their children’s learning status. It will bring more sense of security to users.
User Work Flow
To alleviate the delay of interaction caused by inconspicuous comments, according to what the user had mentioned in the interview, I decided to add live commenting in this revision. The comments will directly show on the upper part of the screen on the app interface. For PC users, especially teachers, to show the comments and meanwhile not disturb their teaching, I think the live commenting can be shown as bubbles at the lower corner of the screen. Everything about how, where, and when the comments will be shown is editable for users.
Divide class videos by content
To maximize the advantage of online classes, in this case, the capability of rewatching class videos after class, I added the feature that breaks a single class video to multiple parts by the content of the part. In this way, students might be able to find what they want more conveniently when studying for tests. The list of those divide points can also be available at the page of the list of videos, so users do not have to play the video to see them. I was inspired by the function of “only see them” in a Chinese video platform called iQiYi.
Considering that some of the users are children who may not be able to read and understand all the characters because they haven’t learned that yet, I added children's mode, which will switch all lists with Chinese characters into a form that PInyin (an easier representation of Chinese learned by children) is the main text and characters are the secondary. In this way, when their adult supervisors are not available, users can try to operate the app on their own. Moreover, under children's mode, the primary functions will be companied with image explanations. On the message page, the voice message function will be placed as the primary option.
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