🎯 Mission: improve the Lexplore UI for teachers so that they can make decisions that improve the reading skills of each individual student.
🏗️ Process: The design team did a comprehensive research study, particularly focusing on the work practices and challenges of teachers. Several teachers were interviewed in-depth to gain a better understanding of their work, needs, challenges but also Lexplore usage. Personas, user journey mapping and impact mapping enabled the design team to map out the user and business needs and frustrations.
🪄 Results: we conceptualized several ideas with the aim of transforming Lexplore from a nice to have tool to a must have tool.
Using AI and eye tracking to improve school children’s reading skills
Lexplore is a Swedish EdTech company that uses artificial intelligence and eye tracking technology to assess the reading skills of elementary school children.
Teachers use Lexplore’s web based interface to manage their students’ eyetracking results and reading comprehension progress.
The design team’s work centered around the following question asked by Lexplore in relation to their web based platform for teachers:
”How can we present information that helps teachers make individualized decisions that strengthen the reading of the individual student?”
As our research will show, it’s always necessary to challenge initial research questions as they come with implicit assumptions and the problem and solution. The design team decided therefore to begin the project with broad research to understand teachers and their work life.
Our research revealed important facts about the working life of Swedish teachers:
- 82% of teachers feel stressed because of the documentation requirements.
- 80% of teachers believe that the documentation requirements contribute to reduced job satisfaction.
- One of the major reasons why teacher feel like they have to extensive document their work is that they fear being questioned by the parents of their students.
- 40% of Swedish teachers consider quitting their jobs because of the documentation requirements.
The research taught us that Lexplore must not become yet another tool that teacher have to use to document their work. Lexplore must be cautious to not add more to their already heavy and bureaucratic workload but rather reduce their burdens.
Interviews with teachers
By interviewing teachers and special education teachers, some who use Lexplore at their schools, we gained the following insights:
- All schools work a little differently with reading development and special pedagogy.
- Not all schools have a special education teacher. The teachers use different IT systems, work methods and materials in their work with the children.
- The teachers believe that too much documentation is required and that a lot of time is spent on non-pedagogical administration.
- It becomes challenging for the class teacher to meet the needs of all students as they are at different language levels, may have learning difficulties and have multilingual backgrounds.
Based on our extensive research and the key insight that the Lexplore educator admin is used many different types of school staff, we created two personas to represent our main user groups: teachers and special educators.
Teachers feel encumbered by too documentation and paperwork. They want to focus more on teaching and use more modern teaching methods instead of doing administrative work, breaking up fights or being on recess duty.
Special Educators Persona
Special educators want to have better communication with teachers regarding individual student’s needs. They also want to give each student an individualized education plan to meet their unique needs and capabilities. What special educators find problematic is when many students aren’t performing at the level they should be at for their age. Special educators have to extensively document their students but the documentation requirements aren’t always clear.
The design team made a customer journey (using the teacher persona) to create a shared understanding of what teachers do to improve their students’ reading skills. The purpose of the customer journey is to highlight the challenges and possible solutions that teachers face during this process.
One insight we gained though our research is that while there are national laws and guidelines dictating what teachers and special educators must do when it comes to the reading skills of elementary school students, actual implementations of these laws and guidelines can vary tremendously. Capturing this complexity in a customer journey is a difficult balancing act because the model can become misguiding if lacking in detail.
The design team created an impact map to established the business goals of Lexplore and how they correspond to the goals of actors such as teachers and special education teachers. The impact map then suggests several solutions that meet those user goals.
The impact map makes sure that any design that the design team suggests to Lexplore is aligned with the needs of the business and users by focusing on a major visionary goal for the entire company, i.e. the best service that develops children’s reading skills.
The design teams final design suggestions to Lexplore was to offer the following functionality:
This project highlighted the importance of questioning any initial assumptions or framing we might have regarding the mission. The design team went beyond the mission statement by doing proper research, directly involving teachers through interviews, and gained important knowledge and perspectives that radically changed the direction of the project.
As designers we have to respect the depth of the knowledge and experiences that professionals such as teachers carry with them. While it would be foolish to assume that we can absorb all that information by just doing UX research, doing the research is absolutely necessary in order to empathize with users, understand their pain points and design better solutions.