IBM Q TEacher Dashboard
UX Research / UX Design / Content (2018)
The IBM Q Teacher Dashboard enables educators and their students to collaborate and share quantum circuits and experimental results. It works in conjunction with the Quantum Composer, an interface for creating assembly-level code and running experiments on simulators and real quantum computers. In early 2018, I led a small team to design, develop, and test the first iteration of this tool for the IBM Q Experience website.
Goals + User Research
Over the course of a year, we had the opportunity to work with and interview university professors and students who were using the Quantum Composer in their courses. Students were able to learn the fundamentals of quantum circuit and algorithm design, and enjoyed the ability to run experiments on both simulators and real quantum hardware.
However, the Composer did not allow for collaboration between students or provide an easy method for instructors to review student work. Teachers wanted to see and keep track of students’ experiments, while students wanted private environment to work and agency over what their teachers could see.
In January 2018, our team was given four weeks to design and create a portal that supported these educational efforts in the classroom.
To better understand what needed to get built, we first needed to understand who our users were, and what they needed. Based on the existing user research, we developed three simple personas — a professor (or course owner), a course administrator (a teaching assistant or co-instructor), and a student.
Each of these users had different needs and preferences for interacting with the Composer and the course material. These user needs informed what permissions each user group would need in the portal, as well as a set of user flows to help govern how the portal worked and what actions it needed to support. In addition to our end users, we also considered the developers and IBM administrators who would need to support the courses in our designs.
MVP Design + Beta Release
Based on the flows and permissions outlined, I created a series of prototypes to test with end users and review with our development team for feasibility. Given our four-week time frame, we decided to build and launch an MVP version of the Teacher Dashboard, and partner with two universities to collect feedback as part of a private beta release. We prioritized the features to support the main objective of the dashboard — the creation and management of courses and participants, and the submission and review of results.
In addition to working with developers to implement designs, I also drafted a short “getting started” guide for the Teacher Dashboard, to help teachers walk their students through working with the Composer and submitting results to the course. The design team was then able to sit in, either in person or remotely over webex, and watch how the tool enabled teachers and students to collaborate and share results. At the end of the semester, we had the opportunity to talk with students, TAs, and course instructors on their experience using the Quantum Composer and Teacher Dashboard together.
User Feedback + Next Steps
In addition to the excitement around getting to interact with a real quantum computer as part of their course work, the students we interviewed provided valuable feedback on what kinds of information they’d like to be able to share with their instructors, as well as what they needed to keep track of their own work. From this, we developed designs for a revamped student portal and incorporated usability recommendations into the next generation of the portal, which is currently in development.
In addition to feedback on the dashboard, we also received a lot of enthusiastic feedback and suggestions for the Composer tool itself. I led a small team of designers and developers to implement this feedback, as well as needs expressed by our quantum research community, into a completely redesigned experience for the Composer. More about the Composer redesign can be found here, and is currently in development.