The Design Challenge
At the beginning of each new semester or school year, teachers are faced with the
challenge of remembering names for a large number of new students.
Design an experience to help an educator match faces to names, with the goal of shortening
the time needed to reach complete un-aided accuracy.
I asked some former elementary/high school teachers of mine what they would want to have in a product
like this. They
emphasized how much work teachers have at the beginning of the school year to prep all the
other materials, so the product would have to be something quick and not very time
consuming. They also specified that it be customizable because of how volatile class rosters are at the beginning of the year.
In order for the product to actually work and help teachers remember faces and names, it would need to utilize
effective memorization techniques. Two effective techniques for learning and memorizing are Active
Recall and Method of Loci.
Active recall is a principle focuses on the learner actively answering questions or solving
problems. This is
contrary to passive learning, which includes reading or watching, less doing.
Method of Loci is a way to aid memorization by the use of visualization within a space. This is
a type of
mnemonic device that has been proven to be effective in memorizing faces.
These mnemonic devices inspired the name of the product, "Nameonic,"
a combination of the words "name" and "mnemonic," which emphasizes how the focus on memorizing
Choosing between a mobile app and a computer app, I decided to go mobile. I chose mobile because:
- It would be easier to add new photos by using the phone's camera.
- In the situation where a teacher would want to practice, using their phone would be a lot more
and readily available than a computer.
- The ability to quickly and easily use AR features with the phone.
- List of the entire student roster and their corresponding photos with the option to visualize
the student in the classroom.
- Flashcards with the option to type the name given the face, or select the face given the
- Classroom Quiz of the students in their respective seats in the classroom.
Initial Setup Flow
Most of the app features are pretty straightforward and are clear in their usefulness. However, the roster
visualization and the "Classroom Quiz" are where it becomes less clear. These features introduce more
of a visual approach to learning student names. By associating the names and faces of students with their desks
in the classroom, teachers can form even stronger neural connections. This helps teachers memorize even faster
and with more confidence.
An important aspect of these two features is the AR capabilities.
Unfortunately, I don't have the technical
expertise to demonstrate the AR functionality so images are used as placeholders in the current design.
Since teachers spend a significant portion of their day in the classroom, the phone's AR capabilities
teachers to continue to see their students in their respective seats, even after the students have gone home for the day.
This design challenge was great because I was able to learn so much about visual design in particular. I realized how
much of a difference it makes is to have interacted directly with the potential users. Following the conversations with my
former teachers, I had a better sense of who I was designing for. I also saw the necessity of getting inspiration from others. There is so much I can learn from other more experienced
designers who have been in the industry much longer than I have. I had a blast learning how to make my
app design more exciting with Principle. The various animations and interactions really bring so much more
life to what would've been static images. Even though this project was a lot of work, it was really fun!