designing the content management and curation system for teachers providing offline education

DURATION: Jan 2015 - June 2015

ROLE: UX / UI Design Intern

TOOLS: Illustrator, Invision, Axure

COLLABORATORS: the Learning Equality team

DELIVERABLES:  Invision Prototype | Axure Prototype | User Research videos

Learning Equality is a non-profit that seeks to enable universal access to high quality open educational resources, and to create tools that empower communities to author and share their own content. Learning Equality is committed to enabling every person in the world to achieve a quality basic education. I interned here as a user experience design intern, and was part of process of designing the experience and interface of the content management and curation process.

Content Curation: First Iteration Research & Design

the challenge

Designing how to share and organize massive amounts of content is difficult.

Our team had been tasked with designing the content curation experience, where teachers can add and share their own content to teach their students on this platform. This platform had to allow for small amounts of content, as well as as much content as Khan Academy has in a single account.

our approach and process

Qualititative User Research

We conducted qualitative user research on Noemi from War Child Holland, who has no interface to curate her own content directly. She currently organizes and teaches children in Holland.

Based on research, we identified that users (teachers) have 2 different curation styles based on how much content they have already and how much was planned in advanced.

We decided our design needed to cater to both styles because users will flip between the 2 styles.

Noemi mentioned that she was often unsure of how everything would fit together and would move her content around a lot. Therefore, we researched the different content curation styles. Based on user research, we decided to make the platform also catered to topic-driven curation style, which is why we created the workspace where users can dump their content in first.

Content Driven Curation

The user usually dumps all their content into the platform, then organizes it gradually through the whole process, often changing where it goes.

Topic Driven Curation

The user already has in mind the types of topics they want, and exactly where the content would go. The user usually organizes and creates the topics before they put in the content.

the outcome

After doing research, our team created prototypes and conducted design critiques.

First Iteration Prototypes

Second Iteration Prototypes    

Check out the interactive prototype created with InvisionApp! Follow the guided tours by pressing on the lighted blue circles.

create a channel

create a topic

use the workspace

Content Curation: Qualitative User Research pt.2

the challenge

Usability Testing: Does our design fit our users' mental models?

After creating our prototypes, we wanted to see if people understood what we had designed, and if it made sense in acheiving the goals of a content curator. We also wanted to see if it fit the mental models of content curators, or how people organized related things together.

our approach and process

Usability Testing: Qualitative Research Methods

Parallel Research

The user starts with a bottom up method, by grabbing all the related content items related to one single item and grouping them together

The user ends up with a vertical hierarchy when she is done organizing things together, and clumps together everything that is related

Talk-out-loud Method

people simply speak about their experience while using our current prototypes, while we watch for and listen to their pain points.

Parallel Research Method

to understand the mental model people have when organizing related objects by watching people do a similar exercise.

We conducted our parallel research method by giving users slips of paper with different kinds of content (ex: Introduction to Math, Calculus I, etc.) to organize and group together, in order to get an idea into what they would naturally do and how they would think during the activity.


Talk-Out-Loud Method

  • showing the end product always helps them with knowing how they should start building it
  • the wording of "topic" and "content" are unfamiliar to users-- possibly renaming to "folder" and "files"
  • a blank screen in the beginning is never great-- every user needs at least a first step guidance, or should include inline-help
  • take out redundancy-- it'll confuse the users

Parallel Research Method

  • users first separated by the overall idea first
  • users first thought of the general idea, took out the content, then separated them into even more smaller sections
  • users grouped content together first and then created topic names
  • users don't like a lot of levels-- only if there is a massive amount of content will they create more levels to organize
  • users usually created a vertical hierarchy to visualize their content

the outcome

We decided to make some changes to our design after doing research to help facilitate observed user behavior in organizing things and helping to fit mental models better.

  • using a workspace to facilitate the bottom-up process users exhibited
  • more first step guidance
  • renaming to fit mental models
  back to work