Top Things to Consider in UX Design for EdTech Products
When designing for EdTech, UX designers need to keep in mind both the educators and students. Learn what top design considerations you need to know.
Although technology in education has been around for years, the more recent advancements in technology and the increasing need for virtual learning options has opened the door for a plethora of uses. And in EdTech, UX plays one of the most important roles in the success or failure of your software.
Designing for EdTech products considers many things. UX designers have to think through a lot of questions about their users to design apps and software that can accommodate a wide variety of audiences, including both the student and the educator. In this article, we’ll explore the top things software teams need to consider when making a product for EdTech.
Designing for Audiences with Different Education Levels
When designing for EdTech software, the education, and technology level of users can affect the design and UX needs. Your users may be college students in their 20s who quickly adapt to new technology. Or the software may be used by kindergarten students who have experience with their parents’ tablets or phones, but don’t even know what a login means. The pursuit of education spans users young and old, tech-savvy, and technology illiterate.
The thing that’s most important to think about when designing for your audience is to ensure your UX matches your users’ skill level. Making it easy for users to jump in and start using the software right away, no matter their skill level, will ensure a high user adoption.
Let’s take a look at a few example use cases to understand what UX designers for EdTech need to consider.
Mobile Apps for Learning New Skills
You likely have several of these apps on your phone. Apps like Duolingo for learning new languages, Fender Play for learning how to play the guitar, World Geography Quiz to test your knowledge on countries and capitals, and Kahoot that allows you to create your own quizzes to play with others are all examples of educational apps that are used by a variety of people.
Adoption rates can be affected by whether or not users actually understand how to use the app and can easily go through the modules. If they are overly complicated, users will quickly download one of the hundreds of other apps in the app store. Apps that have users with a variety of tech-savviness need to be designed to make it easy for all users to use. You may find through user testing and analytics that some users are lost or confused with your interface. In this case, greet new users with a simple onboarding interface that guides them through how to use the app. Including only a few options with large buttons and simple phrases on each screen keeps it simple and easy for anyone to understand what they should do next. When there are too many options up front or a lot of setup is required, then a user may get lost and abandon the app.
EdTech Used in K-12 Classrooms or Virtually
With an increased need for virtual learning options, EdTech UX has been at the forefront of making sure students and teachers are keeping up with curriculums when protocols quickly change to remote learning. Technology has also been incorporated into daily classroom learning with many students having access to laptops or tablets for in-person classes and to complete their homework. Digital learning allows students to go at their own pace and ensures they soak in as much as possible.
When designing software for K-12 students, a variety of skill levels need to be considered. First graders are more enticed by illustrations, audio, and interactive graphics than adults. The app needs to look fun. But it will fail them if the overall app look and feel is not partnered with an experience that uses simple language and easily guides them through straightforward steps. Having too many options on a screen at a time or incorporating too many pop-ups can be confusing to a younger child. The same goes for children in communities who have less access to and may not be as experienced with technology.
When my oldest son was 4, he used a pre-k learning program. It was online and the content was phenomenal. But I remember one experience where he was trying to do what he thought the program had asked and nothing was happening. He exclaimed, “The computer is being mean to me!” His innocent complaint showed the gravity of the situation and how it interrupted his learning experience. But this memory speaks to the importance of thinking through all possible states a UX design should address if a young learner doesn’t do something exactly how you expect them to.
UX Design for Higher Education Products
For most college students right out of high school, technology is second nature. This audience allows EdTech products to be more robust platforms with personalization and lots of functionality. But just because an app or software has more features for users who know how to use technology, doesn’t mean UX should take a back seat. The design still needs to ensure users can easily find what they need and that everything functions in a practical way — whether it be locating study materials for the right course, checking their grades, or interacting with their professors.
UX design in education can also help students even before they become students. Interactive quizzes can help prospective students find the right major or course by guiding them through a series of questions to match their interests, personality traits, and individual skills to the right program. Once I helped design the UX for an interactive quiz to help visitors on a major university’s website find the right certificate program to advance their skills. The interactive quiz not only allowed for a better user experience as students were guided towards the certificate program that would best meet their needs, but it also increased enrollment. A win-win for the university and the students!
Filling the Gap to Help Students Learn in Their Own Way
The 2002 No Child Left Behind law was put in place to hold schools accountable for student performance and to help Americans to be more competitive in the global landscape for years to come. The law was intended to fill the gap between poor and minority students and students who had more educational opportunities in their community. Although it has since been replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act that scaled back the federal government’s involvement in education to give more control to states, the same end goals still apply. Performance and accountability are still of top importance for all schools and students.
UX design can help governments and educators gather the data they need to make informed decisions to help students perform better. They can collect information about learning styles that work best for individual students, the pace that different students learn at, and where the gaps are in their education. Then, machine learning can be used to evaluate data to make decisions to improve their curriculum or offer alternative programs and learning formats for students struggling with traditional classroom learning. It can also help governments to determine the individual needs of schools to help support them in improving overall student performance.
UX for Admin Tools
There are two sides to any platform — the interface that the majority of end-users see and the admin side that sets up what the end-user can access. Especially in education, user experience on the admin side of any software is just as important to consider as for the end-user, the student. Designers often spend so much time on the front-end of the software that the backend for admins often gets overlooked. It’s important for teachers and administrators to be on board and excited about technology to encourage user adoption. If teachers don’t use the software, they won’t encourage their students to either.
In EdTech, there are many things to consider for UX on the admin side that will help both teachers and students to get more out of the software. Let’s explore each item in detail.
Can admins provide access to certain modules for some students and different modules for others? And how easy is this to set up and adjust as needed? Whether students are broken out into groups or need personalized learning plans, the technology needs to allow for individualized learning. Consider a platform like Coursera that allows students to learn at their own pace and even choose which courses to take. Admins can set up these options to allow students to take an individualized approach to learning.
Automation & AI
Does the software feature automation options? Automation allows teachers to free up time doing busy work like scheduling homework assignments so they can focus on teaching. Other automation uses AI to assist in grading exams, which can be very time-consuming for teachers.
Consider the various ways teachers and administrators share content with students. From sharing documents to videos to interactive exams from various platforms, product teams need to consider potential integrations with other platforms and to ensure all file types are supported.
Different students learn in different ways. Even the same student can benefit from multiple formats of learning. While video can be a helpful visualization learning tool, including a written transcript of the content can also help to allow users to consume the content how they prefer, easily reference certain sections, and review sections later.
Sometimes the medium of learning lends itself to specific formats for materials. For instance, virtual classrooms over video conferencing can be a necessity for some teachers but can bias toward visual learning resources. Developing software that allows teachers to use varying formats to help their students learn, no matter the class medium, is essential to understand when designing education software.
Feedback & Interaction
The more data and feedback that can be collected from students, the better teachers will be able to adapt their lessons to improve learning. Creating an easy way for teachers to gather and review feedback is essential. But it must also be easy for students to participate in or they won’t do it. These feedback mechanisms can help educators to adapt the material to focus more on the important points if students aren’t grasping them. And software can make this process much easier than it has been in the past.
Data is only helpful if it can be easily understood and interpreted. Graphs and charts that visually tell a story can help educators easily see the information that’s most important for them to know about their students and teachers. Taking advantage of the analytics technology that exists could help provide administrators with insights previously unavailable to help them improve their educational experience.
Now that you’ve learned what you need to consider in EdTech design, are you ready to begin your next project? Meticular has worked with universities, educators, and businesses to design EdTech products in a variety of learning environments. Let’s chat about your project needs and how Meticular can help design your next EdTech software!