Students are increasingly preferring to use digital textbooks instead of carrying a physical one. But when we think of digital books, a static PDF does but a little to make complete use of functions digital platforms have to offer.

This project was an innovative attempt to transform a 1000 page PDF textbook into an interactive experience for students.

Impact on student community...

This interactive textbook will be deployed to hundreds of economics students in Fall 2020. I hope it solves their major pain-points– providing them with a superior & enhanced learning experience.

It's great, I love it! If I had this book this semester, I would have definitely used it!
GTech student who took course in Fall 19
Hero image for Interactive Textbook

Discovering the problem space

At the end of each semester Georgia Tech conducts a survey for every course to know about students’ learning experience. One such survey received a whopping– 300+ responses and revealed a pervasive problem space.

The survey revealed, students found it hard and unengaging to use the long PDF textbooks provided for the course...

My Role

This project was a collaboration effort between Center of Teaching and Learning and Department of Economics. I worked on this project as a UX designer for a duration of 4 months.

I was involved after the survey was conducted. I worked alongside content writer and a product owner.

The goal of this project was to create an interactive textbook for students which will enhance their learning experience.

Process

I started the project with analysing the survey responses and extracting pain-points of students. Furthermore, I conducted in-person interviews with the students taking the course to guide my first prototype. Later, I got feedback from course instructor and students to iterate and deploy the final version.

Image: Process Followed
Here's what I created

The Interactive Textbook

Navigate seamlessly between topics, search for a topic, topic-wise summary, engaging videos, charts, knowledge checks and more.

Interactive textbook walkthrough
How I got there

Excavating pain points


Survey

To begin this project, I dived into analyzing the survey responses. The survey asked a range of questions about the course. This survey received 300+ responses.

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Majority students prefer PDF textbook

80% of the students preferred to read digital PDF textbook over physical one.

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PDF hard to navigate

Students found it very hard to jump between or to find a specific topic. Also, PDFs don't work well on smaller form-factors.

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Book too verbose

Many students also expressed their discontent with amount of words. They found it tiring to read.



Interviews

I also conducted a couple of informal interviews with the students taking the course to find out more.

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Summary useful for quizzes

Students found the summary for every topic very useful and used it in revising for weekly quizzes.

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No way of checking understanding

Students couldn’t check their understanding of concepts after they finished a topic.

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No reward system

Students who spent hours reading the book. But felt that their efforts were not worth as there was no reward system.

Rapid Prototype

Based on the insights from the surveys and interviews, I worked on creating the prototype for the first chapter of the textbook.

Images: Prototyping

Feedback and Evaluation


Feedback from instructor

I shared the prototype with the course instructor to get her feedback. I was able to refine my prototype based on her feedback.

  • Inclusion of videos in summary: Videos help to better understand the topic, thus we decided to include videos in the summary section.
  • Creating knowledge check for every topic: I suggested inclusion of knowledge check questions for every topic. This will help students to check their understanding of the concepts.


Evaluation with students

The new interactive textbook received a high SUS score of 85.3. Based on the prototype, I worked on creating the content and UI structure for the remaining chapters in the textbook.

The Final Design


Seamless navigation between topics

Students can search and navigate seamlessly between topics which is a daunting task in a static PDF version of the textbook.



Summary with video content

Students want a quick way to revise topics before quizzes. What better way to get a brief summary of every topic along with a video which explains it nicely!



Quick knowledge checks

Students often want to check their understanding of the concepts. How about quick knowldge checks which help you assess which topics you understand and which ones you have to work on.



Responsive design

The book content adjusts beautifully in all form-factors. Thus, students can have great reading experience on whichever device they use the most.

Find out more about my work.