Study Planner App

Concept Prototype + User Research – 2015

“Create Your Study Plan. Build your future.”

This was a passion project I undertook with Christopher Pollard, a project manager from VTAC (possibly my brother too), and we ended up presenting a prototype to La Trobe university. We both felt strongly that higher education needed a smarter enrolment interface to enhance the experience of those that had to use it.

The Problem

The current enrolment system and resources available for planning subjects in flexible degrees is difficult to use and wastes valuable student and university staff time.

Verifying the problem – User research

We constructed a small survey relating to the current enrolment process for Australian Universities. The purpose of the survey was to gather views on the current system, how it could be improved and how people personally work out the structure of their degree. The questions were designed to be answered by several main parties: current or past students, university administration officers and academic staff. The reason we interviewed University staff was that they deal with students who are inquiring about enrolment or having trouble with choosing subjects.

We had responses from a variety of levels of academic people. The results confirmed that there was a problem with the current system with a large amount of students, and even academic staff.

People found the current system’s experience of enrolling in subjects is tedious and involves a large learning curve.

it makes for a very long process. It makes it confusing, there is no where to see a clear guide.”
“Handbook is too difficult to navigate. If you don’t already know what you are searching for you cannot do an effective general search. E.g. If you want to know all currently available”

Staff are asked questions such as:

How do I enrol into an elective?
I don’t know what to choose.
How can I do this major, what subjects do I need to enrol into

 

Students now tend to have more flexible degrees and need visualise what their personalised study journey is going to look like. The enrolment system and the online repository of subjects do not assist very well with the planning of studies and experimenting with possibilities. Students were mostly using self made spreadsheets and written notes to keep track of subjects.

“It is really hard to know what electives there are.”

“It was very important to understand the later years of the degree as I later discovered that I had not met pre requisites for subjects I wanted to do. If I had known of the existence of that particular subject sooner I would have done my first year differently.”

 

Our solution:

Put the enrolment system and the ability to plan together in one simple and usable environment that helps visualise the structure of the course.

Our application was designed to allow a very simple approach to enrolment, giving the user the ability to easily find out all the subjects that are possible and plan a major. This would also reduce the amount of time student services spend explaining the online enrolment process with students.

Functions of the application

– Searching for subjects

The previous process of finding subjects for enrolment was heading to the handbook to find a subject code and then inputting this code into the enrolment system. We wanted to bridge the gap between natural searching and enroling. There could be multiple ways to search for subjects so that students have the flexibility to do it their way.

  • Choosing a degree and seeing what was available
  • Searching a name
  • Searching a topic, like “Chemistry”
  • Choosing a major
  • Searching the code
  • Related subjects and prerequisite links.
  • Electives, filtering subjects that had to be outside the major or the degree
Searching through a major
Searching through a major
– Exploring possibilities

On top of being an actual enrolment system, we wanted to give students the ability to visualise what their study journey COULD look like. Once they selected a degree and a major, it would pre-populate the grid, then they would be able to add more subjects to the rest of the fields. The grid would give you a clear view of the nature of each subject, any empty slots and which subjects are in a certain semester. Upon a closer view of each year, the user could inspect each  subject, its important details and choose the option of switching to another subject if possible.

Alternatively another popular way that students plan their studies in a flexible degree is by starting with a black slate and choosing subjects of their liking for the first year, then seeing where that leads them. The planner would allow them to input the subjects and then really see what majors that would allow, and if any prerequisites would be missing, so the student could be more informed of their 2nd and 3rd year.

Another addition to the full view of the study plan is career examples, giving the student an idea of common paths that this study plan could lead to, allowing them to think past the degree.

Degree View
Degree View
Looking closer at a year and a subject
Looking closer at a year and a subject

 

iOS development and design

I learnt iOS development for this through Treehouse online learning and it was just built for the purpose of showing a prototype during our pitches . If we were to truly integrate this application with a university, then it would be a web application.

The colour scheme was made to match the university design system, in this case La Trobe university.