The Blackboard 9.1 software is adopted by the Carnegie Mellon University to help course management and documentation. But it fails to provide a seamless faculty-student interaction.
The research was based on the Contextual Design methodology proclaimed by Beyer and Holtzblatt. After literature review, I conducted two contextual inquiries with CMU faculty and two semi-structured interviews with the CMU’s Blackboard Admins. I gained domain knowledge and understood typical problems that the instructor face while using the software. Based on the synthesis of user research data, I envisioned few concepts for prototyping and ideas to improve the existing interface of the system. One of the key findings of the research was the huge number of product features making the software un-usable and requiring a steep learning curve. The prototype was evaluated by think-aloud user test and the introduction of Dashboard view was found to increase user efficiency.
User research: Two contextual inquiries were conducted with instructors who regularly use the system. In addition, one unstructured interview was conducted with two local administrative staff members responsible for handling the Blackboard support for CMU.
Work Models: Over 40 pages of transcripts were coded and analyzed to synthesize the data collected during User research. The insights and findings were documented in visual diagrams called Work Models.
Affinity Diagram & Brainstorming: The synthesized user research data and findings from the Work models were documented in affinity notes to find meaningful trends in the research. Trends identified from Affinity Diagram helped in creating ideas during Brainstorming. The top 20 Ideas were posted on an Impact versus Achievability graph.
Prototyping and Usability Testing: Based on the ideas generated during Brainstorming several hi fidelity prototypes were created and tested with the users.