Digital Credentials Consortium: Evaluative User Research

Digital Credentials Consortium: Evaluative User Research

MIT Open Learning

By Sonam Singh, Georgia Tech | Digital Credentials Consortium

The Digital Credentials Consortium (DCC) is a collaboration between twelve institutions across the world with the goal of creating a centralized platform or standard for academic credentials across universities and other education providers so that students can easily receive, store, and share their credential records. This one-stop solution will enable admission committees and employers to ensure credential accuracy, detect fraudulent credentials, and engage in a holistic assessment of a student’s skills.

Broadly speaking, this project involves three kinds of tools:

  1. A tool that issues credentials
  2. A tool that claims credentials
  3. A tool that verifies credentials

In Georgia Tech’s case, we’ve integrated an issuing tool in our learning management system (LMS), Canvas. In addition, we are collaborating with the DCC to create a tool for claiming credentials, called a “wallet.” This tool takes the form of a mobile app. From Fall 2020 to Spring 2021, C21U focused on evaluating low-fidelity wireframes and building tools to test the Canvas flow of issuing a credential. We then evaluated the built-out tool for CredWallet on Testflight, which was then only available for iPhones. A summary of methods and findings for both evaluative research studies are presented below.

Canvas Tool Testing

We began this testing by evaluating low-fidelity wireframes of the Canvas tool; some sample screens are shown in Figure(s) 1.1, 1.2, and 1.3, below.

[Pictured above: Figures 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 — Low-Fi Wireframes of the Canvas Tool]

This study had the following objectives:

  • To gauge participants’ prior knowledge of digital credentials (DC)
  • To gauge participants’ expectations of the Canvas interface of DC and the process of adding a DC
  • To evaluate the initial wireframes/concepts for discoverability, comprehensibility, and perception

10 Georgia Tech faculty members and 13 Georgia Tech graduate and undergraduate students were interviewed, and the major findings from the testing were as follows.

Insights from Instructors

  • When there are many credentials, it might be helpful to incorporate some form of cascading/hierarchy amongst credentials for better organization and management of credentials. The “Search” functionality could also be added.
  • A central repository of all credentials might be helpful so there is no redundancy in credentials configuration.
  • The functionality to filter by name of students, year, etc. may be helpful to access students’ records while preparing letters of recommendations.

Insights from Students

  • A wishlist of to-do credentials (where students can look up the credentials in the GT repository) might be helpful.
  • A mega-list of all credentials earned in a semester to claim/publish them all at once might be helpful.

These findings were then used to iterate as we moved along in the fidelity of the Canvas tool and the new version was available as a Canvas course where students could complete a module and claim a credential. Six graduate students were interviewed, which involved the testing of the flow on Canvas tool that issues verifiable credentials (Figures 2.1 and 2.2, below).

[Pictured above: Figures 2.1 and 2.2 — Canvas Tool Application]

Although most users found it to be a straightforward flow, one helpful suggestion was keeping the link to the wallet app on the completion page/scanning QR code page in case a student does not already have it.

CredWallet App Testing

The objective of this test was to identify the usability (effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction) of the CredWallet application. This application was still under active development during the time of our testing, so many of the screens may have changed once these findings are published.

The application is divided into five components:

  1. Onboarding: Involves four steps that onboard the user to the features of the application
  2. Home Screen: Includes the list of all the credentials that have been added to the wallet
  3. Certificate Layout: This is the preview of the credential that is being added
  4. Sharing of credential: This includes sharing of credentials with others, potential employers and school admission committees
  5. Settings: Includes backup options

Twelve Georgia Tech Graduate and Undergraduate students were interviewed for approx. 30 minutes. The participants were asked to complete certain tasks (e.g., onboard themselves, add a credential, etc.) and give feedback on the flow, the comprehensibility and discoverability of buttons and icons, etc.

Some of the major insights we received include:

  • The visual language and the illustrations in the onboarding process are clear.
  • Color contrast of onboarding could be made neater for accessibility reasons — the text is somewhat hard to read.
  • There could be a finish or done button after going through the four steps to affirm completion of the onboarding phase.
  • The home icon is easy to understand, and the search feature is helpful if it allows searching across categories.
  • A blank screen may be confusing for a new user who does not have any credentials yet, which might make it seem like there is an error.
  • There could be a prompt asking the user to add credentials, such as “start adding credentials” or let them know “here are your credentials”.
  • In the card layout, the carousel is nice and the swiping between different certificates is smooth, the orange bubbles at the bottom convey this functionality well.
  • The three dots in the bottom make it seem like there is auxiliary information or edit/delete button but, in the tool, this was designed for expanding the card.
  • There might be a need to increase the importance of the three dots icon if more functionalities are built out in it.
  • A sharing icon can be on the bottom navigation bar/top level action on all headers as well to allow users to share multiple certificates/folders at a time.
  • Password changing settings, profile, privacy and language options might be helpful features in settings.

Next Steps

Moving forward, our goal is to seek insights and feedback from faculty members and employers on the flow of earning a credential, as well as setting up credentials.

About the Researcher

Sonam Singh is a 2021 graduate from the Human-Computer Interaction program at Georgia Tech and worked as a UX Researcher with C21U from Spring 2020 to Spring 2021, on projects like GTatrium and Digital Credentials. With her Psychology and HCI background, she is working toward building a toolkit of methods for investigating user behavior in increasingly effective ways and will start her job as a UX Researcher at Zillow in June 2021.

Originally published at http://www.c21u.gatech.edu.


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