CourseGarage is India’s first MOOC platform directed at introducing high school students to potential career paths. It is a repository of multi-media co-curricular courses created by internationally renowned instructors. Course Garage also invites successful professionals to teach practical concepts and share their experiences via video lectures. The project introduced me to challenges of K-12 learning when advocated via virtual medium.
Course Garage approached me with a clearly defined outline of the product idea and a tight deadline for it’s implementation. Targeting high school kids meant there was a clear demarcation between users(students) and customers(parents). It was a challenge to create a unified experience that was fun to use for kids and responsibly thoughtful for parents.
As a first step, I conducted semi-structured field interviews with 5 students to get a peek into their aspirations, tastes and interests. I paid special importance to their environments, technological know-how, browsing habits and influences. Following this, I interviewed their parents to gain insight into common responsibilities, challenges and frustrations. These studies were used to develop personas that served as benchmarks for future design decisions.
Using qualitative data derived from user studies, I created personas of potential users. Afterwards, their story was mapped with different product phases. Design and communication opportunities at each stage were identified.
Concurrently, I looked at published research on how to motivate students to be experientially involved in the learning process. One of the most influential study was “Conceptualizing and measuring the optimal experience of the e-learning environment.” by Davis, R., & Wong, D. (2007) (Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 5(1), 97‐126.) A stated negative relationship between perceived ease of use and intention to use in e-learning environments provided interesting avenue for design thoughts.
As a next step, I gathered requirements from all stakeholders. These were synthesized to create a simplified sitemap.
Being on a restricted budget, the client wanted some quick inputs on interaction patterns and user interface. Therefore, I used the lowest fidelity medium- pen and paper- to sketch out my thoughts. These sketches contained interesting ideas and observations. For example, special attention should be paid to developing community learning and sharing experiences. Also, creating strict schedules for each course might bring accountability in learning while sending regular progress reports to parents can ensure emotional involvement. Later, these ideas were used to create the final interface.
CourseGarage was launched on August 2013 in selected schools across India, Sri Lanka and Uganda where it's user base grew by an impressive 6% every month. The idea was enthusiastically received by both students and parents. Unfortunately, it proved difficult to build a financially feasible business model and the product was withdrawn from market in December 2014.