Profiling Oppia’s New Profile Page
Welcome to an inside look at Stanford’s Team Oppia! From October to December 2015, Raine Hoover, Travis Schafer, Divya Siddarth, Santos Hernandez, and myself were honored to be this team in the CS+Social Good class.
Mission: Revamp Oppia’s profile page.
Prior web-programming experience: Limited.
What we learned: Where do I even begin?
Here’s a quick introduction to Oppia. Oppia, named after the Finnish word meaning “to learn”, is a free, open-source learning platform. It outpaces many other online education initiatives by focusing on one-on-one tutoring experiences. Simply try one of its lessons, called “explorations”, at Oppia.org, and you will experience lessons that teach through a series of questions that cater to their learners’ unique responses. The explorations are crowd-sourced, meaning that anyone can become a teacher on any topic. As a result, Oppia is an educational Wikipedia of sorts, one that can seriously change the face of online education.
Similar to Wikipedia, crowdsourcing has amassed a significant amount of content for Oppia. At last count, Oppia has over 4,200 explorations and over 125,000 users. Yet, also like Wikipedia, this crowdsourcing questions the quality of the content. A lack of credibility is damaging to any site, let alone an educationally-focused one. Our team sought to address this dilemma through a redesign of the user profile page that had three overarching goals:
- Give credibility to our contributors
The new profile page would demonstrate contributor impact.
2. Incentivize contributors to create high quantity, high quality explorations
Higher visibility of contributors’ explorations encourages accountability.
3. Allow learners to discover other explorations from contributors they have enjoyed learning from in the past
Higher visibility of contributors allows learners to identify the content sources.
Soon after we started our project, it became abundantly clear that significant steps had to be taken prior to any kind of implementation. Compared to the other three CS+Social Good projects, ours was unique for having a pre-existing codebase. This called for careful planning to ensure seamless software integration, design consistency, and scalability. First, we created wireframe design mock-ups of the new profile for user-testing. We spent two weeks on design revisions in response to user feedback. Finally, we included the final mock-ups within a detailed profile design specification document that was reviewed by the entire Oppia team.
Here are our results.
The original profile page:
The current, live profile page:
The new profile page features two separate sections, three tabs, user statistics, and user contributions. Feel free to go to www.oppia.org/profile/kerryxwang to explore the new features that are discussed below.
The top section of the profile contains users’ personal information and includes two brand-new features: interests and first contribution date. Users can now add their subject interests to their profile; we hope this will encourage collaborations between contributors with mutual interests. In addition, the date of our users’ first contribution, defined as either the publication of a new exploration or the edit of a published exploration, is showcased on their profile. This provides some information on the contributor’s level of experience.
The bottom section of the profile contains users’ contribution information. The first tab contains three statistics: user impact score, number of created explorations, and number of edited explorations. While the latter two statistics are self-explanatory, the impact score was defined specifically for this context. It incorporates the average rating and number of playthroughs for each of a user’s explorations in one numerical indicator. Previously, the numbers of created and edited explorations were not being tracked, but we believed that the publication of the statistics could both incentivize contributors to contribute more and also indicate contributor experience.
Our team strategy was to split up the profile into many, smaller projects that were completed independently, and we are proud to have had our work come together to form the complete page. In addition to the technical jobs, several of our smaller projects were supplemental design projects. As Oppia is constantly improving, we wished to lay groundwork for future improvements. Thus, in parallel to the implementation of the current features, we developed three prototypes for future implementation.
One prototype is a design for a more informational and user-friendly statistics tab.
Another future improvement is the gamification of the profile page. We created Author, Contributor, and Explorer badges that users can earn as they contribute to Oppia.
Lastly, as applications are increasingly becoming mobile-friendly, we created mobile mock-ups of the profile page.
Our team is extremely grateful to have learned so much through this project. As a team, we started with very little web-programming experience and a varied background from product design to human biology to journalism. Throughout this experience, not only did we learn about design and software engineering, we learned a lot of valuable intangibles. These include navigating a large codebase, using Github, and learning the software engineering process. Our new Oppia profile page is up and running, and we are ecstatic to see its growth! A second redesign is already in progress, building on the work we have completed, so look out for a relaunch in the upcoming months.
Oppia truly is the epitome of learning for all, as it is a learning space for both its users and its creators.
We would like to give thanks to Sean Lip, Amit Deutsch, Jacob Davis, and Xinyu Wu for their mentorship and support. In addition, this project could not have been possible without Manu Chopra, Lawrence Lin Murata, and the rest of the CS+Social Good team.