DESIGN RESEARCH · SYSTEMS THINKING · PROTOTYPING
CCA Learning Resource Center: Experience Redesign
One of the wonderful things about California College of the Arts is the supplementary learning opportunities offered by the college's Learning Resource Center (LRC). The LRC's mission is to "help students connect to the people, tools, and techniques that can help them learn best". The LRC team is made up of about 30 students and 6 faculty members who offer coaching to any CCA student to supplement their learning in different topics such as academics, software, and math/sciences.
The objective of this project was to gain an understanding of the experiences of LRC coaches and students, and find opportunity areas to improve them. I decided to focus on academic coaching as this is the most popular topic of coaching. From examining the pre-existing system, I focused on maximizing the use of time between coaches and students during coaching sessions.
Project type: Individual
Duration: 3 weeks (Spring 2019)
Tools: Sketch, Invision, Keynote
Talking to Coaches and Students
I spoke with 3 academic coaches and 3 students. Through interviewing them, I learned that the LRC is a valued resource. Coaches enjoy helping students greatly and take their jobs very seriously, while students find the LRC immensely helpful with learning how to correct mistakes and improving their reading and writing skills.
"I enjoy being able to meet new people and learn new things."
"I feel good being able to help people through my skills and work."
"Coaching is a flexible, fun job."
"I want to use coaching again, it was very helpful."
"Coaches help me solve my problems. It's like I'm sick, and they're my doctor."
"This is a very popular service - coaches are never available!"
Understanding the Current System
I created a stake-holder map from the LRC coach's perspective to determine the most influential actors of a coaching experience.
I also realized that students who use the LRC coaching services typically fall into 2 categories.
I captured the frustrations of the current coaching experience through storyboards.
From my research, I pulled out a couple key problem areas.
My research initially brought me to many back-end, logistical problems.
However, due to the nature of the project, I decided to focus on the front-end experience, the interaction between coaches and students. I had created general journey maps for both students and coaches previously, and I decided to combine them into a more refined journey map, highlighting shared pain points to uncover opportunity areas.
One of the biggest problems is the unavailability of coaches, resulting in students having to plan far in advance to book their appointments even though the help they need is often immediate. Although coaching time is also limited and valuable, sometimes a lack of preparation or miscommunication between the coaches and students can cause the session to not be as efficient and effective as it can be (see the last two problem areas for further explanation).
This leads me to my design opportunity:
How might we help students and coaches minimize confusion about coaching and maximize use of time?
I did a brainstorming session and narrowed down my ideas into 3 possible prototypes.
In considering feasibility and the “front-end” experience, I decided to prototype and test 2 of the 3 ideas:
General Availability and Prep for Students.
For each prototype, I tested with 2-3 people (both students and coaches).
General Availability Prototype
The general availability calendar makes it easier to see coach availability and gauge how busy the LRC is, as it displays the available times of all the coaches. Students no longer need to click into each coach page to view individual coach calendars.
The calendar is also suited for the "one time student", as these students book appointments based on whoever is available.
The general availability calendar is very helpful and time-saving.
There can be clearer and more details in the calendar, such as coach specialties and location filtering.
Prep for Students
Students who come prepared to their appointments are more likely to make the most out of their time with the coach. There is currently no preparation information.
I wasn't quite sure in what method and which step of the booking process I could communicate this information to students, so I decided to try the appointment-booking page on portal. The goal was for students to read this information so they know how to prepare before making an appointment.
Students actually tend to not read info on the Portal website.
This is not a very effective place to provide prep info. The purpose of using the Portal page is to make an appointment, not to prepare.
After testing and feedback, I decided it would be possible to combine and integrate the two prototypes to create a re-designed experience of preparing for and booking an appointment focused on minimizing room for error and maximizing coaching time.
1. Choose type of coach
I added an additional design by changing the flow of choosing a type of coach. Initially, all three sections were listed on the page with the corresponding coaches below the titles. This led to many instances where students booked the wrong type of coach.
By making it necessary to select and click into a type of coach and having each type of coaching displayed side by side instead of scrolling vertically, there is less room for error.
2. Make an appointment
The 3 main features of this page include:
1. Filter by location
Sometimes students don't read/misread which campus the coach is located on. Filtering by location reduces room for error.
Students can then request an appointment either through feature 2 or feature 3:
2. General availability calendar
Again, good for the “one-time-student”, someone who books appointments based on availability. The calendar can also be filtered with the location filter.
3. Individual coach pages
The individual coach pages still exist for the "consistent student", who usually prefers booking appointments with the same coach.
3. Receive Confirmation and Preparation Info
I moved the preparation information to the confirmation email that coaches send to students. From my testing feedback, students are much more likely to read the email than the website, as the email confirms and provides important logistical information regarding their appointment.
LEARNINGS & NEXT STEPS
Since I work as a coach in the LRC, I thought this would be a very valuable opportunity to redesign a valued experience and also possibly implement my solutions. For this project, I really wanted to be able to analyze a system and capture and communicate it effectively. With the feedback from my testing and the help of my peers, I was able to focus the information I communicated and create my designs with intentionality. Since this was a project about experience, I also learned and explored different mediums of conveying current and future user experience states and to reference them while designing and iterating.
To continue this project, I'd like to continue testing and iterating my design. From the feedback I received, there is also an opportunity to be more bold with the preparation information to further ensure that students prepare - e.g. requiring students to physically indicate that they have read the information (e.g. a waiver or a checkbox).
I have shared this project with the Director of Learning Resources, and we have implemented feature 1 (choose type of coach) on the actual site. We will continue to work to bring about more changes to improve the site, amongst other experiences within coaching.