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TYPE: UX/UI, Web App, Case Study

ROLE: Concept, Research, Design

DURATION: Sep 2020 - Apr 2021

The Problem

Due to COVID-19, universities around the world have had to adapt classes to the digital world. As a result, many students have experienced the difficulties of learning through virtual meeting platforms, staying engaged, speaking up, and feeling a sense of connection with others.​ How might we create an online environment that reduces the barriers that inhibit students from speaking up and interacting with others in a virtual class setting?

The Solution

Bridge is a virtual classroom designed for Instructure, Inc. that makes connecting with peers and professors during classes more comfortable for students. Students can measure their own engagement and build their confidence in their abilities, while also giving professors insight into what they are learning.

Project Overview

For my undergraduate thesis, I explored how online classroom environments could be improved to reduce the barriers that inhibit students from speaking up and interacting with others in a virtual class setting. The idea for this project began when I started mulling over two challenges facing me and many of my fellow university students:

 

  1. I have experience with public-speaking anxiety and noticed that many of my classmates experienced the same thing. I wondered why we got so nervous before not only formal presentations, but also when just participating in class discussions or volunteering to answer questions informally.

  2. I and the majority of my classmates preferred to keep our cameras and microphones turned off during virtual classes and found it difficult to speak up and feel engaged. ​

I was the sole designer on Bridge (I drew concept sketches, created wireframes, and designed the final prototype), the sole researcher (I interviewed stakeholders, and conducted secondary research) and I created presentations and videos.

Throughout the project I was constantly looking back at my own experiences and those of my fellow classmates to design a solution that would actually solve our problem.

Secondary Research

Existing data on public speaking anxiety was used to determine a specific and relevant user group, university students ages 18 to 21.

Understanding the user

I started by conducting primary and secondary research to better understand the problem and the people affected by it.

Provisional Persona

Data from articles, research papers and personal experience was used to create a provisional persona to represent the target user group.

Summary

What I learned from conducting research

Through secondary research and interviewing stakeholders, I gained a lot of valuable information about students' experiences with public speaking anxiety and virtual learning. I also learned about educators practices, and how they've adapted to teaching online and engaging with students virtually.

 

I also was able to explore my own feelings about public speaking, and realized that it was a fear that for me started in high school and was exacerbated by the stress of getting high marks and getting into university, and the belief that I needed to be perfect.

 

Perfectionism is defined as the need to be or appear to be perfect, or to believe that it's possible to achieve perfection; and it is often mistakenly seen in our society as desirable or even necessary for success.

 

Overall, this stage gave me the opportunity to learn about public speaking anxiety from different peoples' perspectives and helped me understand the challenges my target user group face.

Data Synthesis

Data from secondary research and interviews with stakeholders was organized into an empathy map and affinity diagram to generate insights.

Defining the problem

I synthesized the research data to identify themes and connections, and define the core problem.

Concept Sketches

Insights generated from the synthesized data were used to come up with possible solutions to the problem. After ideating a variety of concepts, ideas were grouped and combined to create three designs from which one would be selected.

Ideating solutions

I came up with ideas to solve the needs of the target user group after identifying opportunities from the research data.

Site Map

Information architecture of the platform was organized in a site map in order to outline the structure and content of individual pages and visualize how they would be connected to each other.

Creating prototypes

I looked at the insights gathered from the research, competitive analysis and initial feedback to explore the structure of the platform and how it would be organized.

Next steps

Feedback from user testing was presented to peers and mentors as possible next steps for future development of the platform. 

Testing prototypes

I conducted user testing and presented the final prototype to stakeholders.

Design Process