SideTalk (2016-2017)

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SideTalk is a back channel application that allows students post questions about the lecture in real-time. The application’s designed particularly for engineering classes at UIUC, where enrollment easily averages over 100 students per class. The idea of SideTalk came from fellow classmate Sahil Kumar. Alongside code-wiz Isha Dutta, our team developed a mobile interface prototype in CI 482: Social Learning and Multimedia taught by Dr. Mark Dressman. I drafted the storyboard for the application interface and design.

The team has picked up the project again in CI 489: DELTA Capstone Project taught by Dr. Emma Mercier. Dr. Dressman kindly agreed to let us into his classroom of 80 undergraduate students.

Our team conducted a series of interviews with Dr. Dressman, his teaching assistants, and our target audience/age group. Over the span of a semester, we ran multiple user testings to check the application’s design quality, practicality, and functionality. To our surprise, the undergraduate students were more than willing to give us feedback on our idea and I was able to revise the design based on their expressed needs (e.g. issues with anonymity, colorblindness).

The furthest SideTalk prototype is a website which allows an URL to be uploaded beforehand and uses a comment thread.


version 2
version 3

Left: The stoplights indicate how the students are following along during the lecture.

Color meanings:
Red = I’m lost!
Yellow = I sort of understand.
Green = I understand!

The number of red’s, yellow’s, and green’s are tallied for each slide. These numbers are available to the lecturer at the end of each lecture (as part of the day’s dataset). Students are able to view and navigate through PowerPoint slides. 

Right: Questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 are placeholders for actual questions in this demo (the application shows the question’s text). The chat feature highlights questions from students. The most popular questions appear on top.


Click here to view our final presentation.



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