LecTut | Product Design Case Study
An application to bridge the communication gap between Professors and Students at IIT Roorkee.
IITs and many other technical institutes face the issue of a communication gap between undergraduate students and professors, i.e. there is no consistent platform to share information or lecture notes and presentations. Professors tend to teach utilising a plethora of teaching aids from presentations to textbooks. With LecTut we aim to bridge this communication gap and make the sharing of files for lectures, tutorials or reference material easy and effective.
Analysing existing solutions
There were already a couple of existing solutions addressing the aforementioned need and I spoke to students from almost all the branches to analyse the ways in which their professors communicate with them and the problems that they face with these methods.
Insights derived by analysing existing means of communication
- Every professor uses a different method and this makes it even harder for the students to keep track of different files and folders.
- There is a need to eliminate the issue of middle-man and increase the efficiency of communication.
Defining the Scope
- Creating an online platform dedicated to provide direct communication between students and professors and to eliminate these issues is feasible.
- A website was more favourable over a mobile app because students prefer to study and store files on their laptops and hence prefer to download it directly onto their laptops. Moreover, Professors also keep files on their laptops and it is easier for them to upload on a website.
Aim: To gain more insight into the problems that the student community faces, I interviewed 20 students across branches and years.
Initial hypothesis: Based on my own experiences, I hypothesized that students find it extremely hard to look for notes and spend a lot of time trying to do so.
Conclusion: My initial hypothesis was correct but I also gained a few other insights such as how students often suffer because of miscommunication or ineffective circulation of notes.
Aim: To understand the grievances professors had with the existing form of LecTut and the problems they face while sharing notes with students. I interviewed 8 professors across different departments.
Initial hypothesis: Professors don’t use LecTut because they can’t use it for instant communication and prefer WhatsApp because of it.
Conclusion: My hypothesis regarding lack of instant notification on LecTut was correct but professors also had a couple of other issues such as not wanting to share notes with other faculties and not being able to find how to join a course.
Sketching initial ideas
I started by using a pen and paper to draft my initial ideas and discussed them with students and professors.
After discussion with students and professors, I came up with a list of features that could solve the problems that students face as well as help address the grievances of professors
Features and Solutions
Automated Library Structure
Students can share the message link from LecTut directly
Option for a post to have selective viewership
Included an option of “Post Selectively” which will allow a professor to select which faculty members in the course could see the post and whether the post can be seen by all students or just the students enrolled in the course.
Email-based notification for important messages
Every student has their Channeli accounts linked with Gsuite ids and a large majority uses it on their phones which notifies them when a professors marks a message as important.
CTA button on the Landing page of professors
Structure of course chat
Usability testing of Solutions
To verify the effectiveness of my solutions, I asked various students to use the prototype. After that, I discussed with them if they felt that their problems were solved or not by my proposed solutions. I received a positive response to all the solutions to the problems from the student's side.
In cases where I was considering multiple ways to approach a solution, I asked different professors to use prototypes of each and observed their pain points with each solution. I also discussed possible alternate solutions with them after they initially tried a specific solution. Based on the insights gained, I moved ahead with a given solution. For example, I tested my hypothesis regarding separate buttons for posting and posting selectively. Most of the professors were able to identify the use of post selectively when there were separate buttons and they were more comfortable in this case.
Creating a Logo
LecTut is an app aimed to bridge the existing communication gap between undergraduate students and professors and to make sharing of information and documents easier.
Keeping this in mind, I designed a logo that could convey the sharing of files and documents.
Since many professors were uninitiated to LecTut, and we were launching new features in the application, we brainstormed ways to introduce them to the updates. I considered posters, videos and mailing. In the end, we decided to go with mailing a presentation every professor (because of its reliability in reaching every professor) and including user onboarding in the application to introduce all the new features.
Scope for future developments
Mobile application: To facilitate instant notification and make LecTut readily available to users, the next logical step is to launch a mobile application for the same.
Adding a calendar to the dashboard: Once professors become comfortable with using LecTut, we can integrate the academic calendar with LecTut so that professors can plan the entire semester in advance and mark day-offs on the calendar which can be instantly notified to the students by default.
What I learned
How to define the scope of a project
The most important thing I learned from this project was the importance of defining the scope of the project at the beginning and the things I should keep in mind while doing so. Since the projects at IMG have a strict deadline due to administrative considerations, I had to consider all the constraints to come up with the most viable product.
Improved my approach towards problem-solving
While working on this project, I applied a problem-solving approach wherein I identified and validated the problem, conducted user research to gain insight about their pain points, worked on multiple solutions, tested them and then moved on to incorporate them into my UX and UI.
Working with Developers
It was important to maintain a tandem with the developers. We held weekly team meetings to ensure that everyone stays on the same page. We also had weekly design meetups where we updated every one of our progress and gathered feedback.
Thanks for the claps if you liked my work. That would encourage me to keep on working harder and write more. If you found my work interesting and would like to strike up a fun conversation, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org