Case Study: Creating a Parent Portal for Google Classroom

THE BRIEF

The challenge: Propose a feature that could be added to an existing application. As an educator, the first thing that came to mind was Google Classroom.

Teachers and parents have collectively ruminated on why parents do not have access to view their child’s grades in Google Classroom without signing in to their child’s account. There is not direct parent to teacher access in Google Classroom.

My proposal: Create a parent portal where parents and guardians can not only view their child’s grade, but they can also send the teacher a direct message, and view all of their child’s assignments.

USER RESEARCH

I used the Lean Survey Canvas to distill survey questions that would garner information about how parents are keeping track of their child’s academic performance. I received 7 responses from the survey, and conducted 5 interviews with parents & guardians with school aged children. I did this step before jumping into business analysis because I wanted to validate if there was a need for my feature.

From those surveys I learned that about 52% of those who responded could not easily access their child’s grades, while about 42% were neutral about it. I also learned that for 85% of the respondents, it was important to remote access to their child’s grades.

Using the affinity diagram I learned that there were 3 major pain points:

  1. Needing the student login information for their child in order to log into Google Classroom.
  2. Navigation is not intuitive for parents once they have successfully logged in.
  3. Parents/Guardians having to sign out of their personal Google accounts in order to log into their child’s Google account.

With the Value Proposition Chart I was able to plug in the pain points in order to connect them to what my product could offer customers.

BUSINESS ANALYSIS

After completing the user research, I moved on to business analysis. Using a competitive feature analysis and market positioning map, I found that:

  1. Parents use multiple platforms just to keep tabs on their child’s academic progress.
  2. The main competitor for my proposed feature is a platform called Powerschool that offers a Parent Portal with extensive features.
  3. The downside to Powerschool is that it requires school districts to revamp their entire system, which is costly.

Once the feature analysis was complete, I began brainstorming possible features for my proposed Google Classroom Parent Portal, then used the MoSCoW method to prioritize them.

Google Classroom does send out email summaries of a student’s assignments to parents/guardians who have signed up to receive them, but they are vague and only list the assignments. There are no live links to take parents to the actual assignments. Instead, parents have to log into their child’s student accounts, and click around to find any grade or assignment information which is reflected in the task analysis I completed.

THE PROBLEM

Using my user research I created the persona Busy Bella. Bella is a freelance writer who has a special needs 11 year-old daughter named Kayla. Bella needs single-point, and remote access to her daughter’s academic information. However, Bella is frustrated because she does not have adequate, real-time access to this information.

By completing a user journey for Bella, I was able to pin-point multiple design opportunities for my product including:

  1. A landing page with simple icons for assignments
  2. Easier navigation
  3. Direct messaging to the teacher from the application

The problem: Parents/Guardians need independent, remote access to their child’s grades.

The hypothesis: Providing parents/guardians with independent, remote access will increase product which will result in satisfied users.

I used an empathy map to formulate how I might improve parent/guardian independent, remote access to Google Classroom.

The user’s job to be done is to check their child’s grade using their own account so they can quickly access academic performance and needs.

IDEATION

In order to determine a possible solution I used mind mapping to develop a concept sketch which included a simple navigation bar, easy sign up, as well as grade and assignment information screens.

I also developed a site map for the app feature to organize the screens. Flowing this step, I used a Use Case to iterate a potential user flow for my feature, which also included potential alternative user flows, before developing a final user flow for checking missing assignments.

THE LOW-FI PROTOTYPE:

The goal was to test the usability of my prototype. Testing date from 11 testers in Maze showed that 4 screens needed revision

The goal was to test the usability of my prototype. Testing date from 11 testers in Maze showed that 4 screens needed revision

THE MID-FI PROTOTYPE:

After I reviewed the testing data from the Low-fi prototype, I made the following revisions:

  1. Change Assignments screen from list view to card with list
  2. Allow users to add more the 1 student to their profile
  3. Create a screen for single assignments
  4. Use overlay instead of new screen for assignment details

Maze tests showed there were 2 screens that needed revision due to a 50% misclick rate. For the email sign in screen, the confusion may have been caused by an inactive “Sign in with Google” button.

I found that there was a substantial discrepancy between Maze data and the usability interviews I conducted, which showed less confusion about where to click on each screen.

THE SOLUTION

In developing my High-fi prototype I had 3 goals:

  1. Activate the Home, Assignments, and Grades bottom navigation icons.
  2. Allow users to select either the “Sign-up option”, or the “Sign in with Google” option.
  3. Successfully incorporate my UI elements

THE HIGH-FI PROTOTYPE:

I noticed that the misclick rates were because testers did not open the different assignments, which may be because my directions in Maze were unclear.

SUCCESS & FAILURE METRICS

  • The Task “Create an Account” was 100% successful
  • The Task “Add a Student” was 83% successful
  • The Task “Check Grades” was 8.3% successful (possibly due to inadequate Maze testing directions)

KEY LEARNINGS

  • Many parents are either not “tech savvy” or don’t want to spend extended amounts of time trying to navigate a website
  • Maze data is not 100% reliable
  • UI Components save time when creating prototypes

SURPRISES

  • Google still does not offer a Parent Portal feature
  • Parents have to use multiple services to keep up with their child’s academic progress (Class Dojo for messaging the teacher, Aeries to check grades, student’s Google Classroom Portal for assignments

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Leesa Williams

Leesa Williams

Wife and mom of four, aka CIRCUS RINGMASTER.