A smartphone app to help students in groups collaborate
Students working in groups use many different applications to communicate. For a six person team, some of the members may use WhatsApp, others iMessage, Google Hangouts, and so on. Additionally, the problems are compounded when important messages are sent in a group, and a few people miss it due to the deluge of messages after it. Recalling who was using what, and making sure everyone stayed in sync, making decisions, and staying on schedule are the problems we tried to address with this project.
We met with 8 student groups, and sat in with their meetings as a part of our user research. Contextual Inquiry helped us understand how the students used tools to collaborate. We further interviewed participants after the inquiry session to gain a thorough understanding of their offline collaboration habits. Some of the students met for projects, some met just to study together and help each other out. The project former types of groups collaborated more than the latter.
Contextual Inquiry helped us understand how virtual collaboration fed into in-person meetings.
Understanding the data
We used Affinity Diagrams to group together similar findings, and Sequence Models to see a step by step process of when they get to the collaboration tools.
Based on our research data, we did some exploratory brainstorming sessions to narrow down on our final solution. The methods we used were Visioning Workshop and Wall Walk.
In Wall Walk, each of us on our team writes down our insights on a sticky note and puts them in an appropriate cluster. Then we "Walk the Wall" of insights to generate ideas. Next, based on a vision we gain in this previous seesion, we quickly write down our ideas on a whiteboard to get a rough picture of what our solution might be like.
Our solution was an app called GroupTime that is made exclusively for students groups. GroupTime is a collaborative tool that aids with online group collaboration by incorporating some of the most commonly used features that we observed. The different apps the students were using were mainly for communication and accountability. We designed our app keep these findings in mind.
Main features of the app:
- Group Todo Lists: A group todo list that lets you view your entire group task lists and due dates
- Desicion Center: A decision center that allows user to vote, make decisions and get results faster
- Chats with IM to SMS: Communication not dependent on internet access
- Calendar: Ease in scheduling tasks/ knowing who is responsible for what