IXL is an immersive K-12 learning platform that is used by 6 million students over 190 countries. IXL products are personalized and aligned to the Common Core State Standards. Students can benefit with unlimited interactive questions in over 7,000 skills across five subjects.
Suggestions to IXL Products
· When students finish the practice, they can report which question(s) still make them confusing, and the report will go to teachers. This is important because currently there is no indicator showing which wrong answer is made because of random mistake, and which question is a knowledge point that students truly struggling with.
· Can teachers edit the questions based on their own needs? I would suggest IXL has this function so teachers can change the questions a little bit and students can have more personalized learning experience.
· Better integrate with Google suite! In my user interview, a teacher talked about how convenient for him to import Google Classroom into Khan Academy, and switch seamlessly to other online Google tools. I think IXL should add this function.
· Currently there is no channel for students to communicate with teachers when they are practicing IXL skills, I include this function in my feature design. This is important because better interaction can build a better learning ecosystem.
· I am not sure how IXL monitors the students’ pause time. I would suggest a button to let students click to pause and take a rest if them want. In this way, the dashboard can reflect how long a student spends on actual practicing.
· In the practicing skill page, the dashboard in the right can be more intuitive, especially in lower grade level. For example, using a processing bar or graphic shape.
Assigning homework is the most common activity that allow teachers to check students’ learning progress and communicate with students and parents. Therefore, this feature aims to create a seamless experience for all relevant stakeholders and maximizes the information flow in the ecosystem.
A journey to identify users and their current experience
In order to find out how teachers and students are currently using technology to assign/receive homework and what are the challenges/needs they have, I conducted 3 interviews and below are the interviewees’ background:
- Two teachers: Both are middle school math teachers in the Bay Area. They just start teaching career and they are familiar with integrating technology in classes.
- One student: He is 8 years old, currently in Grade 3. His favorite course is Grammar.
The interviews focus on their current experience when assigning/being assigned homework, their challenges and needs. Below is a sample script for interviewees:
What are users' needs?
After talking to the teachers, I realize that although parents are not primary users for this feature, they have common needs in the homework assign process and it has been recognized by teachers. So I analyze the raw data and synthesize into the chart below.
How do assignment work for different users?
Within the needs in mind, I spent some time researching IXL learning website. The assign homework feature does not exist in IXL product, but I found some features that IXL is offering that can be connected with the assign feature. Below is the user flow for all stakeholders: teachers, students, and parents. The rationale of the flow is integrated with user testing data and existing product features.
*Grey boxes present existing flows in IXL products, green boxes present new flows in this feature, and blue boxes present outcomes in this feature.
When I was sketching the screens on paper in a quick and dirty way, I kept asking myself the following questions:
- What would the screen look like?
- How will the user interact with this screen?
- How to help the user avoid making mistakes?
For example, the teacher’s assigning homework screen is a hard one. I try to minimize the information that presents on the screen, but I also try to cover as many options as possible. Finally, I came up with a screen that has default settings but also give teacher the flexibility to change the setting if they want.
User interface overview
After sketching and quick iterations, I came up with a set of final screens in high fidelity. The screens present a complete user experience for assigning homework and the process involves all stakeholders. I matched the color scheme with IXL existing products, and use similar style such as buttons, drag menus, and charts that can be seen on IXL website.
Due to time constrains, I made the most important functions interactive, and there is room for improvement in the overall user experience. For example, I designed simple functions for parents because I did not have access to parents’ accounts. I am sure if given more information, the screens for parents can be designed in a more interactive and intuitive way.
Teacher screens detail view
Teacher interface: Assignment page
The reason that I create a separate page for Assignments is because teachers need a centered place to see everything that is related to assignment: assignment list, student progress, and notification about assignment. This page is also the entrance to browse materials to assign.
Teacher interface: Set up assignment details
For teachers, errors could occur when setting up the assignment. For example, they may not notice they need to change a class, or assign to only parts of the class instead of all students. Taking these into consideration, this feature provides default setting for the current class, all students, Sunday deadline, copy to parents, minimum practice time 5 min, minimum SmartScore 90. Teachers need to change set up manually, but the default settings guarantee the assignment can work in most cases.
Teacher interface: Progress page
After an assignment is created, teachers can go to Progress and check students’ learning activities. If students have finished the assignment, there is a green label under their names, and teachers can leave comments to them. When students have not finished, teachers can send reminders to both students and parents.
Teacher interface: Leave comments/send reminder to students and parents
In order to save teachers’ time, this feature has some pre-written comments and notifications that teachers can use as templates. For example, if a student answer all questions correctly and finish on time, the template will be praise to students. Teachers can choose whether to copy this message to parents or not, but the default setting is copying every message to parents.
Teacher interface: Notifications
Student/parents screens detail view
Student interface: Get email notification
Student interface: Do assignment
Parents interface: Get report about kid's learning progress