Case Study

Coursework Scheduling App Design

We designed a mobile app called the Repo to resolve prevalent issues around coursework organization in a time of remote learning.
Client: the Innovation Hub at the University of Toronto
Timeline: September ‘20 to March ‘21
Role: User Research, Wireframing, Usability Testing, Prototyping
Team: Paula Aoyugui, Nina Brown, Jiwon Suh, Cloris Tang

The Problem

To begin our design thinking journey, our fully remote team focused on the context and the problem space of the client, the Innovation Hub. The below problem statement was generated after research and user analysis.

Problem Statement

Remote students struggle with managing due dates and academic requirements with the university’s disorganized learning management system.


The Innovation Hub is a student-focused organization at the University of Toronto that collaborates with university partners to research strategies for improving the campus experience.

User Research

Our user research began with secondary research. Each member of the team explored the Innovation Hub's initiative of "Integrated Learning Experiences" in different directions to then come together to contribute to a group discussion.

Secondary Research Findings

We converged our individual research into three thematic trends.
Hybrid Reality Post COVID-19: Work life after COVID-19 will be a consistent mixture of in-person and remote.
Connectedness is Happiness: Remote work can be detrimental to facilitating teamwork and social bonding.
Changing Class Environment: Creative methods of digital learning environments must be further explored.
Next, I generated questions for the interview and prepared the online survey for distribution. We gathered primary research data from 10 interviews and 26 survey responses.

Primary Research Findings

Our interviews revealed these problem areas after screening student participants who currently experienced online learning. These themes provided a basis for which areas students desired for an improved learning experience.
• Focusing during lectures
• Building relationships online
• Remote group work
• Recorded lectures
The survey data yielded the below key results when it came to online learning.

Persona and Ideation

Based on the research, we began analysis on our ideal user by forming a persona and outlining his needs.


Max MaGrad the Master Student
Max needs a learning-conducive environment, a consistent platform or opportunities to network, and to stay focused during online lectures.
Download Full Persona
Following the persona, we concluded on these 5 needs to provide a basis for brainstorming a solution.
1. A way to plan his study schedule
2. A way to keep track of due dates
3. A way to stay motivated and focused
4. A way to make friends in university
5. A way to have consistent opportunities to network

Big Ideas Brainstorm

As a team, we each generated any and all ideas to satisfy as many of the Needs Statements as possible.
After several stages of voting and clustering ideas, we reached a consensus on developing a due date repository in the form of a mobile app.


To focus the scope of our mobile app solution, we developed 3 hill statements.
1. Max can check all of his assignments and be reminded of deadlines all in one place.
2. Max can tell which assignments are the most difficult to decide with certainty of which ones he should place more focus on.
3. Max can exchange valuable information with his peers by having a platform to discuss how to do a specific assignment.


We then collaborated on creating wireframes by performing a “frankenstein” sketch exercise. These led directly to our low-fidelity prototype.


We wanted a fairly quick and low-pressure usability test in the form of a lean evaluation before developing the medium-fidelity prototype.

Lean Evaluation & 1st Iteration

The issues identified in the evaluation are below.
Removed ability to add due dates (Critical Issue): The reliability of crowd sourced due dates was a constant concern of users. We decided to pull that information directly from the university's database.
Changed functionality of trending screen (Critical Issue): Assignments trending were unclear with the voting system. These trending assignments are now based on the number of comments.
Changed wordy buttons to icons (Moderate Issue): Awkward wording of buttons caused confusion in functionality.
Added header for clarification (Minor Issue): Users requested a header above the calendar to clearly indicate what was on the screen.
These changes were implemented into the medium-fidelity prototype, designed in Balsamiq, from the lean evaluation.
Download Medium-Fidelity Prototype (Balsamiq file)

Summative Evaluation & 2nd Iteration

Our team’s project ended at the medium-fidelity prototype, but I continued on by performing a summative evaluation myself to develop a higher fidelity prototype.
The feedback from this evaluation prompted some design changes before the last iteration.
• LIKED the ability to view and discuss assignments in one place
• CONFUSED by the “Due Soon” not being specific enough
• CONFUSED by naming of “Trending” feature
• SUGGESTED adding a search feature for assignments
• SUGGESTED improving readability of comments section
• SUGGESTED adding clarity on what the function of each button is
Below is the higher-fidelity prototype where I implemented these changes.


To wrap things up are the next steps to take for this app to come to fruition as well as my project takeaways.

Next Steps

Create higher-fidelity prototype: The addition of polished graphics, color schemes, design standard requirements, and animations, to name a few, will bring us closer to a MVP.
Connect with involved stakeholders: The Innovation Hub provided the problem space, but generally took a hands-off approach throughout the project. It would be crucial to involve such stakeholders for resources and for integration into the university’s learning management system.
Further usability testing and iterations: The iterative cycle for testing and redesigning should be ongoing throughout the creation of the high-fidelity prototype as well as on a MVP.

My Takeaways

Comprehensive exposure to the Design Thinking process: The application of the Design Thinking process from start to finish yielded a strong research-backed solution for the identified problem.
Proper user research is vital for effectiveness of solution: Without user research, the inventive design of any and all solutions will likely have critical flaws and render useless in its viability.
Teamwork dynamics must be experienced and overcome: As people are highly emotional, it is crucial to instill a culture of constant refocusing on the goal and scope at hand.
Convergence and divergence of ideas supports collaboration: This project revealed the purpose of how design thinking incorporates activities of coming together with ideas after times of being free to explore. From the research phase all the way to prototyping, this allowed iterative opportunities throughout the process and the consideration of various perspectives.
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