Embracing diverse learning styles through personalized learning.
Expii is an educational technology startup in Pittsburgh, PA that provides a deeply engaging, gamified learning experience by using user-generated content. It capitalizes on the idea of learning by teaching, and seeks to maximize the educational potential of the internet. Expii's mission is to connect the world with accessible, quality education resources by inviting contributors to explain standardized math and science topics to students who are looking to learn about these topics outside the traditional classroom. During my time at Expii, I worked on many products varying in scope and scale.
Role Product thinking, user research, interaction design, visual design
Timeline September 2016 - August 2017
A common learning strategy is mastering a topic and moving on to a related topic that builds off of information acquired from the previously learned topic. Expii’s algorithm already does this on the backend by delivering the adaptive learning experience of a personal tutor: it learns how you learn, and gives you the precise lessons that you need at every step. It can dynamically give each learner personally-selected challenges that perfectly match their level, by meeting them where they are and building upon their prior knowledge. While this was key to the overall experience of Expii, it wasn’t reflected in the way we structured our content for learners to navigate through. There are over 10,000 topics to learn on Expii, and although users are able to find topics by searching for them, there was no way to see how each topic related to one another. As Expii continued to grow in contributed content, it became increasingly important for learners to be able to see the different types of content that Expii has and how they relate to one another, while also being able to assess how they are doing in each topic.
The Topic Map, now a core product of Expii, breaks down subjects into bite-sized concepts and shows how the concepts build on and relate to each other. The maps suggests, but doesn’t not enforce, paths that learners may take through each topic. Given the problem space, the primary goals of the Topic Map are to visually communicate the hierarchy of content on Expii, and to show users how they are doing on each topic.
Hierachy & Navigation How might we communicate the hierachy of the content on Expii?
I organized Expii’s content into levels, where the parent topics existing under Math and Science have subtopics. Visually, this manifested into an interaction paradigm that is characterized by the ability to zoom in and zoom out of topics. Learners can see how subtopics relate to parent topics by navigating through the map. By delving deeper and going back, the relationships between the topics can be seen spatially within the map.
The hierarchy of content is structured as a tree, where each topic is visually represented as a node. This helps to show the recommended paths that learners may take through each topic.
While on the map, breadcrumbs take priority over the search functionality. The breadcrumbs help to further show how the topics relate to one another. The user can access the search functionality at any time.
Rating System How might we communicate how the learner is doing in each topic?
Building upon decades of research and rigorous statistical models, Expii’s algorithm is the broadest scale implementation of an Elo-style rating system. Every problem has a difficulty rating, and every person has a score. With each problem the learner attempts to solve, both the problem’s difficulty rating and the learner’s score updates in real time. As the learner navigates the Topic Map, a color scale and number rating helps to communicate their progress within each topic.
Additional Considerations Under each topic there are different types of content: subtopics and explanations. The map needed to be able to distinguish between these different types of content. This indicator needed to be simple enough to
Moreover, at the current stage that we are at, not all the existing topics are fully developed with rich content - internally, we call this the “health” or the topic. It was important to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy topics, as to discourage learners from delving deeper into topics that aren’t fully developed.
Hi Expii maps the world’s knowledge so each learner can navigate in the way they choose. In addition to traditional search, they can zoom into our Knowledge Map to view multiple explanations on each topic, or learn through guided practice with our adaptive Grandmaster algorithm.
Expii continues to see teacher-guided usage in classrooms, we’re striving to highlight the modern technology leveraged used to deliver trustworthy academic material. We’re reflecting this in the pairing of saturated color palettes in product branding, with clean, bright content pages.