myCourses is an online tool allowing users to access course materials, take exams, submit assignments, and more. I worked to improve myCourses to better support students and professors in everyday life.

Client


MyCourses
Fall 2017

Role


Research
UX / UI
Prototyping

Contributors


John Pascarella

How can myCourses better support students and professors in everyday life?

Goals


To begin, I set expectations for how the academic experience would be improved.

Rebuild the assignment workflow.


Multiple features such as submission dropboxes and course content will combine into the single Homework section, allowing for easy assignment management.

Foster easy and productive communication.


myCourses will introduce a new, more modern Slack-inspired communication tool. Students will be able to discuss with just classmates, classmates and professors, or individual peers.

Reorganize and consolidate.


Instead of forcing users to switch between pages, features will be optimized to be right where users need them, when they need them. All of the tools to start and finish work will be within arms reach of each other.

Research


To determine what real-world users need from myCourses, I surveyed a group of nearly 20 students. Here's some key characteristics about myCourses I discovered.

Universal


Roughly 80% of users access myCourses on a daily basis.

Unclear


Many users requested features that myCourses already offers - even everyday users are not aware of some major features.

Confusing


An overwhelming majority of users feel myCourses is poorly designed or difficult to use. Nobody described myCourses as "easy to use."



Disconnected


Users strongly prefer professors to use myCourses for consistency but many professors choose different, easier-to-use services.

Non-portable


Students complained that myCourses' mobile experience is difficult to navigate, and inexplicably lacking major features.

Necessary


Most users feel that myCourses has a positive effect on college academic work.

Integrated & intuitive



A productive myCourses user needs to be absolutely clear on the different assignments, the requirements, and where they can submit their completed work. They need everything in one place, within arms reach. On a course page, students can view all current assignments. While viewing an assignment, students can easily read instructions and submit work on the same page.

Communicative



Many students value communication and collaboration, and want an easier way to discuss courses and assignments with classmates. Now, a course discussion group is available on the side, and can be collapsed or expanded, giving students an easy place to reach out for questions or feedback. Tools such as polls allow easy and compact communication in large class-sized groups.

Visual Language



The mood of the design is inspired by simple, clean materials and architecture. This translates into an interface that is treated like an environment instead of a flat screen. I wanted to capture the feeling of being in a clean, productive environment like a coffee shop, and bring that into the user experience, making the student feel calm and motivated. The execution of this style relies on metaphorical UI layers and individually moving parts to reinforce a sense of material and depth in the UI.

Conclusion


How has the student's experience within myCourses changed with this new design?

Students can communicate.


By creating Slack-inspired discussion groups that are integrated directly into each course, students have an easy way to contact all of their classmates, particularly in situations where they don't personally know their peers.

Completing work is simple and fast.


Everything needed to finish assignments is available in the same place. Assignment pages explain the homework, and submission dropboxes are directly in-line with the descriptions. No more juggling pages!

Mobile usage is no longer a hassle.


One of the users' biggest complaints was that myCourses mobile is useless. Now, students can communicate, check assignments, and even submit work just as easily on their phone as they would on their computer.

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