Kiddom, is an edtech app that offers a digital gradebook and real-time reports for teachers and students.
When Kiddom was adopted as an all-in-one system for schools, Support-Success heard from clients that it was essential to share student grades with parents. However, there was resistance at Kiddom to take on new users and features without data and direction. We set out to investigate the viability of this new project we called, Guardian Access.
As a Support-Success Specialist and UX Design Intern, I planned and lead user research sessions with parents from Marshall County School District with Melissa Giroux, Success Lead.
I gathered the feedback to share in a comprehensive report with internal stakeholders (CEO, Product, Engineering, Design) and mocked up MVP wireframes to gather data and provide suggestions for low-effort, high reward opportunities.
I broke the hour into mini sessions:
- Discussion and Survey: big understandings of new users
- Card Sorting: prioritizing new features
- User Testing: feedback on paper mock ups for iterative changes
After collaborating with Product and Design, I developed the objectives and questions we would explore.
I like to be creative with these approaches and use some techniques from teaching in order to deepen the conversation.
Some key understandings:
- Parents expect to have real-time access to their students' grades. We are behind other Learning Management Systems (LMS) who include parent access.
- Parents do not understand the teaching jargon and would need help to understand mastery-based grading
First, we asked the parents to fill out a survey to gather their thoughts and dig for details in the discussion.
In this session, we sought an understanding of big concepts: "Why is communication between home and school important?" or "How does the school currently share student progress?"
- Parents prefer most reporting information via email. However, when gathered, the frequency changed according to the feature:
Features Ranked Most Important:
- Clarification of " mastery" (online report)
- Insight into what’s happening in the classroom (alert)
- In what areas is my child struggling/excelling? (message, notes)
- More specific details on my individual child (9 week reports)
In an adapted form of card sorting, I had the parents discuss:
"If you were to design your ideal reports, what would it include?
They listed needs, wants and the preferred method of communication for features in pairs* and then ranked them in importance.
* Pairing them according to grade-level facilitates consensus and gives insight into levels of access that may fall according to grade-level needs.
- Parents need support to understand educational jargon and mastery-based reports.
- Comments are universally appreciated. It gives personalized information on their child and how they can best support their child.
Now that they thought of their ideal communication, I tested out some printed MVP reports for user feedback.
In preparation of the session, I designed four different reports: two that were a minor update of the current reports and two others that provided images, comments, and more detailed information to support mastery-based learning.
For parents that were not able to attend the sessions, we made the same survey available online and urged the principal to send out the link to all parents.
In about a week, I gathered the results into a report that summarized the findings but also linked to the data and comments.
Note: While we had additional feedback sessions with students and teachers the next day that are included in this report; however, I'm keeping it focused on Guardian Access.
All-in-all we had feedback from over a dozen parents across all grade levels validating some opportunities and opening the door for others:
- Timely communication between school and home supports the guardians’ need to provide academic and social-emotional support for their children.
- Guardians do not understand Mastery, academic jargon, and are hesitant to ask. There can be better support/communication from the school and Kiddom to explain reporting methods proactively and ongoing.
- Parents appreciate clear visual language to understand a complex idea of Mastery. At a glance, they want to understand how their child is doing. They greatly appreciate suggestions on how to support their child and greater access via portal when digging deeper.
It looked like email reports would only be a temporary solution. If we were to support the client's need, there would need to be a separate portal for parents.
As a design intern, I combined existing patterns with my research to mock up a MVP of Guardian Access as a mobile app.
As a member of Support-Success, I developed a booklet to help explain Mastery-Based Grading for parents.
We ended up not getting buy-in from the CEO and Product in 2018 to launch this access due to a new feature for curriculum management. However, as recently as 2019, Kiddom launched Guardian Access for Android and iOS.
While my designs were not used in the final app, I worked collaboratively with the designer, Dennis Chung, to share my research and feedback; thus, saving the company time and resources in the end by validating approaches for the MVP.
I gave myself a design challenge of an hour to complete the wireframes above. At the time, I was working on the new project for grading and didn't have the capacity to flesh out the whole experience from sign up to accessing an assignment.
Looking back, I wish that I included a place for comments, messages, assignment details and settings. I treated this truly as a minimum viable product, but I should have included the next steps that will ultimately complete the experience.