The problem that we are addressing is that students oftentimes do not have a good understanding of their reading assignments. This is usually due to them whizzing through their reading without paying too much attention, and then they also do not reflect on their reading.
Our users are Wellesley College students. This means that they are generally ages 18-22, are stressed, have a lot of work, and are not motivated to do their reading due to time constraints. They have mobile phones and laptops, on which they spend an average of 12 hours according to marketingcharts.com.
Users will be able to enter in their readings either on a semesterly basis (with options to edit in case readings change), and then have a “Today’s Reading” homepage where all of the readings they have entered can be seen. Clicking on a reading gives the user the option to either write a response/summary or defer it for another day. Users can input responses via text, audio, or pictures (drawn or uploaded). Every response progresses the user towards another badge. This solution will encourage users to do the readings and make comments about it, which can then be seen by other students in the same class, motivating them as well.
The badge system encourages students to keep doing readings and filling out comments so that they can gain badges and increase their “rank.” Users also create their own profiles, which show their rank, major, name, and class year, as well as the list of badges users have acquired and still need to get. This motivates the user to complete readings and responses, communicate with classmates, and explore readings from other classes.
As our users are college students, they spend a large amount of their time on mobile devices. When they check their phones, they can see that they still have X readings left to do for class tomorrow, which acts as a helpful reminder. They will also have their mobile device with them when they complete the reading, making it a convenient medium to use this application on.
ACM Digital Library Related Work: Gunawardena, A.. “Encouraging reading and collaboration using classroom salon” Our proposed project is different than Gunawardena’s as they focused on “[encouraging] more reading and annotation activities in early computer science courses”, rather than critically analyzing and responding to all types of readings. Their product also was only available via desktop, which is another major difference between the two. Additionally, our solution will incorporate elements of gamification to make the user experience more fun while maintaining the user’s engagement, and can be used by a wider variety of users.
Most applications that sell themselves as being a reading companion these days, are annotation apps, or reading comprehension apps geared towards users currently going through kindergarten. Annotation apps allow the user to freely write notes, highlight words, or insert images on a page, but offers little in a way to motivate a thoughtful reflection of what was just read. A good example of an annotation app is Penultimate. The reading comprehension apps ask text-specific questions to the user after they have read a text and can often times record progress in a novel, for example LightSail. LightSail encourages reading through the use of progress bars, and awarding badges. Another app aimed more toward children is Aesop’s Quest, which challenges students to remember elements of the story in order to answer questions at the end to unlock future levels, which gamifies the act of reading by getting users excited to unlock more content for reading comprehension.