Mobile Apps for eLearning

Mobile Apps for eLearning


Haiku Learning was a small learning platform competing with many other and sometimes much larger platforms. Haiku Learning offered, in addition to their desktop platform, a native iPad app featuring an activities calendar, an inbox and to-dos. As the first UX designer to join Haiku Learning, one of my top objectives was to create a stronger cross-channel experience.


Increasing numbers of U.S. schools distribute iPads to students, and as tablets and mobile phones became increasingly ubiquitous at both home and school, demand for new features and improvements to existing features in Haiku Learning’s native iPad app jumped while its usage remained low. Meanwhile, the most highly voted customer request was the creation of an iPhone app. As a small company, they were also challenged by budget and time constraints.


I interviewed with both existing and first-time users of the iPad app and conducted moderated usability testing with them. I reviewed user feature requests, bug reports, usage analytics and performed an heuristic evaluation, isolating both our user’s biggest pain points as well as their most pressing unmet needs. The work was then planned to split into three more manageable project phases according to priority.

Phase 1: Add Grades to the Current iPad App

The most frequently requested iPad feature was the ability to view grades. While a report card might initially seem like a straightforward project, the flexibility and detail that Haiku Learning’s web platform provides required a much deeper dive into the specifics of how to structure the architecture for this feature.

Phase 1: Results

I created an interface that allowed users to view grades by role, class and individual student, by grading system type, by term, class section, and by activity type. Due to a tight timeline—the feature had to be launched within a few months, in time for the start of the new school year—I performed guerrilla usability testing on partially interactive wireflows (wireframes + user flows) with both co-workers, as well as with random internet users via UsabilityHub’s Five Second Test, before creating high resolution designs and specifications that matched the existing iPad app’s branding guidelines and user interface patterns. Customer feedback after launch was positive and adoption of the new Grades feature was high.

Phase 2: Overall Improvements to the iPad App

The pain points and areas of improvement identified in the discovery phase were turned into user stories and all major task flows were then built around these user stories.

  1. I want to easily use the app regardless of my age or level of experience with technology.
  2. I want to be able to customize and filter the class information that I receive.
  3. I want to utilize the portability of the iPad to help me to be a better student.
  4. I want to find anything anywhere, including searching my inbox messages, grades, activities and to-dos.
  5. I want to easily create and attach media to my assignments and messages.

Phase 2: Results

After the initial release of the iPad’s redesign, feedback on the changes was overwhelmingly positive. The number of users utilizing the iPad application tripled within the first three months, and continued to rise, while simultaneously doubling the average length of login sessions that users spent interacting with it. The home (calendar, announcements and to-dos) screen experienced a nearly tenfold increase in the average length of time spent on it.

Phase 3: Create an iPhone App

In interviews, students and parents indicated that their primary need in an iPhone app was for checking events and homework. A secondary need was for on-the-go messaging. Students and teachers also hoped to more easily be able to attach media created with their phone to assignments. For this reason, I prioritized the Calendar, Inbox and Hand-In features in the designs.

Phase 2: Results

After the initial releas