Bonnie Eisenman – Assignment 2

Name: Bonnie Eisenman (bmeisenm)

I’ve placed my post below the “read more” link for convenience’s sake.

1. Observations

I conducted my observations before Theory of Algorithms lecture on Monday, February 18th and Wednesday, February 20th; and before Imagined Languages on Monday, February 18th. I arrived to the locations of these classes about fifteen minutes before classes started. I observed the actions of the other students and the professors, and interviewed some students as well. Subjects interviewed include David Bieber, Alex Baker, and Patience Haggin.

Observations include:

  • The early students: some of them arrive long before class, having come from the library or from lunch. For Algorithms, the prior class often gets out late, so people shuffle awkwardly outside the door for a while. Nobody really talks.
  • My professors showed up to class significantly early; all of them used the full ten minutes available. They appeared to do things like try to get projector systems working, set up lecture slides, review lecture slides one last time, drink water, etc. None of them spoke to students while I was observing. Several times it seemed like they struggled to get the projectors working.
  • I interviewed some students about what they’d done before class, what they usually did, etc. For some students I asked these questions before class; for other I asked afterwards (I wanted to interview those who had been running late, too). Observations I gathered:
    • Printing between classes is difficult because everyone is trying to do it
    • Not getting lunch is really awful, but the lines in the dining hall can get really long — multiple people mentioned this
    • When classes have attendance sheets, it’s great if you can fill it out before class
    • It takes a lot of people the full ten minutes (or more!) to get to their next class
    • Pre-class is a really popular email catch-up time
    • Some people are really paranoid about getting to class on time
  • General observations:
    • Some people shopped online
    • Some people make their LaTeX or Markdown templates for taking notes
    • Surprisingly few people talked to each other
    • Lots of email-checking
    • Some reddit
    • Most people get out their books, notebooks, etc.
    • Lots of fidgeting, people looking stressed

2. Ideas

  1. Food trucks offer lunch to rushed students!
  2. Courier service offers before-class delivery of print jobs
  3. USG survey before lecture, to get feedback on ideas
  4. An app that offers everyone an article on interesting topics during each between-class period to provoke in-class discussions.
  5. An app that turns last lecture’s .ppt slides into a screen saver, so people can review them while you wait for class to start.
  6. An app to order food (REAL food, not bagged lunches) from the dining halls / eating clubs, to be picked up between classes.
  7. An app to register your attendance that requires you to answer some quiz questions from the last lecture.
  8. A Markdown app that learns what kinds of templates you make at what times of day / week, and automatically prepares your note-taking template.
  9. An app that learns what time the prior class usually gets out, and alerts you when you should probably leave for class based on that data and location.
  10. An app that activates when you re-open your computer that encourages you to sit back and focus on your breathing and posture.
  11. An app for lecturers that tests all functionality of a laptop’s connection to the classroom system — sound, display, etc.
  12. An app that launches when you re-open your computer and launches a site like Duolingo or flashcards — learn a little bit of a language every day between classes!
  13. A minigame that the professor can create before class that asks recall questions from the previous lecture.
  14. A program that determines the fastest route between your classes to help you save time.
  15. A program that integrates with ICE and/or Facebook and suggests routes that are more-or-less good to get to class, that maximize your chance of running into friends.
  16. A meta-app for iphone that shows you a different game every time between classes, giving developers more exposure AND giving you more fun!
  17. A site where professors can immediately contact OIT / access help articles relevant to their classroom if something’s not working.
  18. A way to send something to the printers immediately, and then swipe your prox to pick it up (so you don’t have to wait to print it).

3. Ideas chosen for prototyping

An app to order food (REAL food, not bagged lunches) from the dining halls / eating clubs, to be picked up between classes.

I picked this idea because many students have no scheduled time for lunch, but could easily pick up a lunch between classes if only they didn’t have to wait in line.

A site where professors can immediately contact OIT / access help articles relevant to their classroom if something’s not working.

I chose this idea because I’ve had many classes where it took the professor a while to get the technology in the room to function, and it would be helpful to be able to get immediate help from OIT.

Prototype 1:


The landing “page.”

List of available options to order.

Select time to pickup your food, and a warning that this costs a meal swipe.




New landing screen after you’ve placed an order for the day. Appears after placing an order, and upon relaunch of the app.


Settings page for entering necessary info and choosing which locations to order from.


How I envision food pick-up could work: a table near the card-checker in the dining halls, with a place to swipe your prox, and labeled take-out boxes.

Prototype 2:

Homepage displays links to potentially helpful KnowledgeBase articles, a search box for the KB, and a button to start a live chat with OIT. All of this knowledge exists but is somewhat difficult to find currently.

Page displaying a specific KB article.

Livechatting with OIT. Can also upload images to help diagnose the problem.

Getting feedback:

I went to the Gothic Tradition (I class I had been shopping earlier in the semester) on Thursday morning to get some feedback. I chose this class because it takes place from 11-12:20; perfect timing for trying out my first prototype. I approached students before class started and asked them to try it out. I first showed them the paper prototype and then explained how I envisioned them picking up their food at the dining hall.

The good: many people were excited by the idea of being able to order meals for pick-up, citing inefficiencies in the dining halls. For the most part people seemed to understand the interface, which I attribute to the fact that iOS / mobile-style interfaces are pretty well-understood at this point.

Room for improvement: many people were confused by the iOS-style time “picker” I had tried to draw. Nobody tried to use the settings button. Many people expressed doubts that Dining Services would ever try to implement a service like this, because “they don’t really give a ****.” People also expressed concern that either food would be stolen, or that anti-theft measures when picking up food would lead to longer wait times. Someone also pointed out that students would probably use this app during class, which might annoy some professors.

Overall conclusion: the interface of the app could certainly be improved, particularly the time picker, but most people were worried by the logistical considerations of dining services implementing such a system.