Smart Planner

Automated assignment deadline scheduler (Masters capstone project at Cornell)

The Problem

In his research, Fabian found that students undergo a lot of stress resulting in poor outcomes due to procrastination with completing homework and assignments and wanted to create a solution to help students better manage or even avoid this stress.

He wanted us to test his initial idea via user research and improve upon it.

My Role

User Researcher

Interaction Designer

Web app developer

Team

Sritapasya Kothapally

(User Researcher and Interaction Designer) and

myself

Advisor

Fabian Okeke (PhD, Computer science and behavioral psychology, Cornell Tech)

Initial Idea

To help students procrastinate in a smart manner and alleviate stress and anxiety created due to managing assignment deadlines.

How?

  • Create an app platform to enter all deadlines

  • Prompt to mark progress

  • Get deadline alerts

  • Get better at estimating actual time you need to get things done

Findings from User Interviews Round 1

We set up an initial survey to gather quantitative data about the students we were going to interview to learn

  • Which year were they in?

  • Which courses were they taking?

  • Which learning management systems (LMS) were they using?

  • Which actions were they typically performing on the LMS?

Then, we interviewed 6 students on campus or in their homes to give a walkthrough of the idea and gather feedback.

These were mostly Masters students using at least two learning management platforms (each Professor can choose from Blackboard, Piazza or CMS for course materials and homework assignment).

Below are some quotes from the sessions.

"The concept is good but I would not use it"

"I don't think I would have time to enter all deadlines manually"

"The application is not smart enough"

"I like it when I can access my data seamlessly across multiple platforms"

The Redesign

'Smart', 'seamless' and 'automated' were the overarching user needs that came out of these interviews. We also noticed that all the students received notifications in their Cornell GMail account through any learning management platform when homework was announced.

We proposed a redesign, a web application which would automatically read assignment deadlines and offer a one-click solution to add those deadlines as events with reminder on Google calendar.

Wireframes

  1. Automated view of deadlines (post login)

2. Adding deadlines to Google Calendar

3. Marking assignment as complete

4. Deleting completed assignment from the list

5. View of deadlines as events on Google Calendar (seamless!)

Redesign feedback and Evaluation results

At the end of the semester, we created a survey to evaluate our app.

  • 100% of the participants voted in favor of the automatic extraction of assignments and due date.

  • 100% of the participants voted in favor of the automatic planning on Google calendar.

  • 100% of the participants voted that the application is usable to them.

Future Work

  • Integrate more learning management systems

  • Auto-add deadline events

  • Add filter and sort to the list

  • Smart notifications

  • Ability to create deadlines

  • Iterate on visual design