Canvas Redesign

Problem Statement

How can we improve the student collaboration experience in Canvas to help team members collaborate, manage and deliver conveniently?

Canvas LMS is a popular application widely used among college students and instructors in the US. However, in terms of how it can facilitate the team collaboration, there are still a lot can be improved. The refined version helps student distribute work, keep track of progress and submit the assignment without hassle.

Individual Project

UCD Process

Methods Used

Interviews, Competitive Analysis, User Task Matrix, Syle Matrix, Journey Map, Thumbnails, Heuristic Analysis, Site Map, User Flow, Prototyping, User Testings

Tools Used

Axure, OmniGraffle, Illustrator, InDesign

Timeline

4 Weeks

 
1. RESEARCH

Survey, Expert Interview, Interview, User Task Matrix, Competitive Analysis, Style Matrix

Research Goal

Different research methods were used to investigate:

- What are the interactions and barriers that students are currently experiencing when having a group assignment?

- What features most frequently used? 

- How are the existing project management applications doing?

Research Methods
Survey

Survey results offer a quantitative view of student's existing behaviors using LMS system. Here is a bar chart representing a question about "How important is your tablet/laptop to your academic success?", with 0 being "Haven't used recently" while 5 being "Extremely important".

 

 

  • Platform-wise speaking, laptop outperforms tablet in helping students to gain academic success.

  • In the open-ended question session, it shows that students are confused by the group projects interfaces and submission options.

Expert Interview
Findings

To understand how UW LMS works with expert insights, I conducted an expert interview with Tyler Fox, a subject matter expert (SME)
with a wealth of data related to university member’s needs and behaviors while using the UW LMS.

Tyler Fox

Findings
  • Canvas is a open-sourced platform that can be easily integrated with plug-ins like dropbox, google docs, chat rooms...

  • Canvas has a steep learning curve that requires a lot of efforts into users training.

Semi-structured Interviews

Interviews help surface an in-depth understanding of current behaviors and pain points with follow-up questions. I interviewed two participants that had experiences with group assignments in canvas before.

Findings
  • Confused about if canvas really did send a notification to my teammates or not.

  • It’s good to be able to notify the team work distribution.

  • Good to know if your teammate has submitted assignments or not.

Competitive Analysis
Findings
  • Confused about if canvas really did send a notification to my teammates or not.

  • It’s good to be able to notify the team work distribution.

  • Good to know if your teammate has submitted assignments or not.

User Task Matrix
1. RESEARCH

Survey, Expert Interview, Interview, User Task Matrix, Competitive Analysis, Style Matrix

Research Goal

Different research methods were used to investigate:

- What are the interactions and barriers that students are currently experiencing when having a group assignment?

- What features most frequently used? 

- How are the existing project management applications doing?

Research Methods
Survey

Survey results offer a quantitative view of student's existing behaviors using LMS system. Here is a bar chart representing a question about "How important is your tablet/laptop to your academic success?", with 0 being "Haven't used recently" while 5 being "Extremely important".

 

 

  • Platform-wise speaking, laptop outperforms tablet in helping students to gain academic success.

  • In the open-ended question session, it shows that students are confused by the group projects interfaces and submission options.

Findings
Expert Interview

Tyler Fox

To understand how UW LMS works with expert insights, I conducted an expert interview with Tyler Fox, a subject matter expert (SME)
with a wealth of data related to university member’s needs and behaviors while using the UW LMS.

Findings
  • Canvas is a open-sourced platform that can be easily integrated with plug-ins like dropbox, google docs, chat rooms...

  • Canvas has a steep learning curve that requires a lot of efforts into users training.

Semi-structured Interviews

Interviews help surface an in-depth understanding of current behaviors and pain points with follow-up questions. I interviewed two participants that had experiences with group assignments in canvas before.

Findings
  • Confused about if canvas really did send a notification to my teammates or not.

  • It’s good to be able to notify the team work distribution.

  • Good to know if your teammate has submitted assignments or not.

Competitive Analysis
Findings
  • Confused about if canvas really did send a notification to my teammates or not.

  • It’s good to be able to notify the team work distribution.

  • Good to know if your teammate has submitted assignments or not.

User Task Matrix

To identify the most frequent tasks in Canvas, I segmented users into three categories, depending on how much time they spend on the platform. Tasks are drawn from research findings and existing features.

Finding
  • It shows that the interactions taken place before (distributing work) and after submitting assignment (notifying team members) are of the highest frequency.

Style Matrix

To find out the best visual language, I analyzed existing project management tools to compare the pros and cons of listing view and panel view. The interfaces are placed on a 2*2 matrix, with target visual direction I’m going with.

Findings
  • Generally, when the tasks can be sorted, list layout is more appropriate.

  • The Panel layout is ideal when it comes with the feature to drag and drop tasks from one column to the other one.

Design Implications

After triangulating the research findings from different methods, here are the design implications on what the end product should focus more on:

  • The platform should be on laptop, designing for web.

  • It should tackle the interactions taken place before, during and after submitting a team assignment. 

  • It could consider integrating other tools into Canvas.

  • t should consider list view rather than panel view.

 
 
2. IDEATION

Journey Map, Thumbnails

Ideation Methods
Journey Map

To break down users’ journey into component parts to gain insights into problems that may be present or opportunities for innovations, I analyzed the full experience of submitting an assignment.

Thumbnails

To quickly generate numerous ideas without concerning about the feasibility at this stage, I draw out as many ideas as possible in the form of thumbnails within 20 minutes.

3. PROTOTYPING & EVALUATION
User Flow
Paper Sketch

Mapping out the interaction of submitting an assignment in a user flow helps to sort out the feature list and interfaces order.

Before going about doing wireframes in Axure, I sketched my initial design ideas on paper.

Wireframes

Before designing the UI interfaces, I made several wireframes of the key interfaces for usability testing.

Usability Testings

To know if the wireframes make sense to the end user, I conducted a pilot test and two usability testings with UW students who are Canvas users with at least one team homework assigned in this quarter.

Key Findings
  1. [3/3] Since the external files are uploaded on the page with assignment submit button, it makes people think the file link would not be uploaded.
    "I thought I just upload a file and it will never update again." - P2

  2. [3/3] Participants were confused about the flexibility after one of the teammates has been assigned to submit the deliverable afterward.
    "Everyone can assign who to submit?" - P1
    "What if that teammate forget? Can I help him or her to submit?" - P2

  3. [2/3] The timeline view misses the sense of today. 

  4. [2/3] The DESCRIPTION text below the main task is confusing.

 
4. OUTCOME & NEXT STEPS
Usability Testings

Based on the findings I’ve surfaced in usability testing, I iterated the wireframes and  polished them into UI interfaces with Adobe Illustrator.

Future Work

Another round of user testing regarding the high fidelity interface should be considered to test the visual language. Additionally, Team communication is an important part of teamwork. To better communicate across multiple platforms, applications such as Slack that are widely used could be integrated into Canvas to create seamless collaboration experience. For example, notifications in Canvas can be pushed onto Slack to gain instant notice.

 

© 2019 by Yitao Wang

  • LinkedIn - Grey Circle
  • Instagram - Grey Circle
  • Twitter - Grey Circle
  • medium
Snip20161029_30.png