UX Research: Open Lab

  • Open Labs
  • GCCIS 

    As you walk through the building of Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences, you'll see computer labs with rows of computers set up facing the projector screens. Some rooms are used as classrooms and work spaces called Open Labs.
  • When the space is not being utilized by instructors, the lab is stationed by a TA from  foundational computing classes, such as Computer Science 1, to assist students.
  • Student Life at GCCIS
  • You walk into an Open Lab... Oh, Crap. The lab is full and the TA is busy.
  • GCCIS a has a total of 3971 graduate and undergraduate students. 3116 of them are undergraduates and 86.6% of them are male. Students of GCCIS share 16 lab spaces, so why is this a problem?
  • To answer this question, my team observed 3 labs and interviewed 15 students to investigate the problem. The three labs we observed were the NTID lab, Computer Science lab, and Information Sciences & Technologies, Computer Security lab.
  • NTID is the National Technical Institute for the Deaf and one of the nine colleges at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). NTID provides equal learning opportunities to deaf and hard of hearing students. 1200 NTID students attend RIT and they make up 6.6% of RIT's student population. TA's at the NTID lab sign American Sign Language which makes communicating with TA's easier.
  • In other words...
  • There's an uneven distribution of students using labs and asking TA's for help. 
  • How did this become a problem?
  • Students lack knowledge in open lab rooms, lab hours, and TA's skills. The only information that is easily available to students are the signs found outside the classrooms. 
  • Recognizing student needs​​​​​​​
  • We discovered that the NTID lab closes at 6pm and they are closed during weekends. Whereas the mainstream (non-NTID) labs tend to stay open later. Many NTID students avoid using these labs because communication is a huge barrier.
  • Students can request for an interpreter but you have to submit your request at least 3 business days in advance. NTID students also expressed that they prefer direction communication from whom they are conversing with, rather than an interpreter, because some conversations get lost in translation. 
  • My team wanted to find a way to overcome the communication barrier between NTID students and mainstream TA's. We believe that NTID students should have the same access to resources mainstream students have. 
  • What needs to be done?
  • Students aren't aware of all of the labs and TA's that are available to them which results in crowded labs and a line to get help from the TA. Resources should be accessible to all students. They need a source they can refer to for consolidated lab and TA information. 
  • Potential Users 
  • 1. "I need a quick glance at the schedule." 
    Chad is a 3rd year who enjoys doing homework in between classes. He occasionally visits the lab over the weekend to do finish up his work. He appreciates the casual work environment.

    2. "I'm stuck on Python. Who can help me?"
    Timmy is a first year who is very frustrated with CS1. He just wants to get his work done, and leave the lab as soon as he's done. 

    3. "The NTID lab is closed and I need some help."
    Ali is a 2nd year NTID student. He is very social and enjoys visiting the NTID lab to catch up with his friends. It's past 6pm, and he needs help with his project. 
  • Goals
  • 1. Streamlined Input System
    Make customizing lab schedules easy with one-time input.

    2. Accessible Communication
    Provide a communication tool for NTID students and mainstream TA’s.

    3. Quick Delivery
    Deliver information that is only necessary for on-the-go.
  • To be continued...
  • Sources: