Innovative interface that enables students to flip through a virtual book and form mental maps of content.
Problem » Strategy
While conducting research for Aplia Text, we mined usage data from online textbook platforms looking for patterns. One of the key insights we gained was that students do not read online in a linear fashion and then do their associated homework. Instead, most begin by answering as many questions as they can of their homework. They then look through their textbook to round out their knowledge. We summarized students as “doers, skimmers and scanners”.
After a few iterations, we realized that a table of contents simple wouldn’t solve the problems students were having with finding relevant course material, nor was it very engaging. Inspired by the “album view” in iTunes, we created a navigation widget we called the “flipbook”. Students can flip through thumbnails from the book by scrubbing through with the horizontal scrollbar or by clicking on pages in the stacks on both sides of the flipbook. Rolling over individual pages reveal key concepts found on that page.
I contributed to research, designed and built the XML-reading Flash widget. I also oversaw the backend development work that went into generating the XML and thumbnail creation engine.
After a soft launch in summer 2009, Aplia Text was launched with over 100,000 students fall 2009. Initial response from both students and internal stakeholders has been extremely positive. Students consistently rank the flipbook navigation widget as one of their favorite features within all of Aplia.