interaction design @ Coursera

Working with a team of designers, product managers, engineers, and researchers to increase course completion for an online learning platform.


the challenge

Our primary goal was to increase the course completion and progression rate (CPR). How do we guide students as they work on a course, complete a course, and move to the next course? 

 

my role

Interaction design & research lead

 

PREDISPOSITIONS & RESEARCH

Predispositions

Before we got started, we needed to know what had been tried before, what the engineers felt was feasible, and what (if anything) they were unwilling to try. We used the process to air assumptions, biases, and desires. While we put these predispositions on the shelf for the design sprint, we would bring them back at the end to put constraints on concepts.

Research

We reviewed the academic literature on university completion methods, as well as our own body of primary user research and analytics on learner behavior and motivation, to gain a shared understanding of who we were designing for as well as what has been tried before.

The team sorts through predispositions and insights.

The team sorts through predispositions and insights.

Insights

We used affinity diagramming to organize our research data and bring insights to the surface. There were too many insights to tackle all at once, so we focused on two and determined design principles based on them:

  1. Students need to get oriented to the platform and know their schedule
  2. Students need to be able to monitor their progress toward their goals and the deadlines of the course

Uncovering research insights with the engineering, design, and user research teams.

journey maps & concepts

Before moving from insights to concepts, we first articulated what our learner journey looks like. Then we got to work sketching ideas for solutions. We framed each problem statement as a series of job stories and rapidly generated concepts individually for each theme before coming together to talk through and refine the concepts as a team.

Job Stories

  • I understand what I will be doing and how it relates to my goals
  • I know how to be a student on this platform
  • I understand what is expected of me
  • I know what I need to be working on right now
  • I feel motivated to continue
  • I understand what is expected of me at all times
  • I see progress and how it relates to my goals
The two primary parts of the journey that we focused on:  1) Initial course discovery to enrollment. 2) First assessment attempt to completion and starting the next course.

The two primary parts of the journey that we focused on:  1) Initial course discovery to enrollment. 2) First assessment attempt to completion and starting the next course.

Brainstorming solutions to problems discovered during the insights gathering phase.

Brainstorming solutions to problems discovered during the insights gathering phase.

Sketches exploring solutions to learner problems as articulated in job stories.

Sketches exploring solutions to learner problems as articulated in job stories.

wireframes & storytelling

To pitch the final concepts, we created an end-to-end learner story that articulated the results of the design sprint, and shared this with the wider engineering and product leadership teams. It was the first time this style of storytelling was used at the company. The holistic approach to the project was well received, and product and engineering broke the project down into smaller parts to start building. We focused on the course dashboard first.

My role here was to frame the narrative and work with the other designer to create the necessary wireframes to bring the narrative together.

Onboarding

Onboarding

Course Homepage

Course Homepage

Logged-in Homepage

Logged-in Homepage

Completed course!

Completed course!

evaluative research & iteration

Next, the team created some basic prototypes to use for evaluative and validation testing. While research was underway, engineers started building out the infrastructure and APIs needed to pull the data and support the design direction.

"I can look through the weeks and get a good idea of how much time is expected. It helps me in terms of arranging my day." - Participant

"I can look through the weeks and get a good idea of how much time is expected. It helps me in terms of arranging my day." - Participant

Outcomes

User research and engineering constraints guided iterations. The result was a significant increase in course completions - the second largest in company history.

The current live course week view

Live Coursera grades page