CompetitiveAnalysis-GeoffreyWing

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Idea

My group is designing an application to help middle and high school teachers take attendance as quickly and easily as possible, and we hope to incorporate features like random group creation to aid in teachers’ day to day tasks.

Competitors

1. Attendance

On an iTunes store search for “attendance,” this was the first result and closest application to what we plan to build. This application was written by a CS professor, primary targeted to high school and college instructors, whereas our application will be targeted toward middle and high school teachers. Currently at version 2.5, Attendance has a large feature set. With this app, a teacher can take attendance, keep track of grades, create random groups, and generate reports. Our feature set is basically the same, with the exception of grades. The app uses a tab based navigation scheme of 4 categories. Each category, however, has many screens, so navigation may be a bit long winded. There are some odd design quirks—for example, some settings for the application are located outside of the app itself; in Add/View, looking at a class roster, clicking on the – button next to a student shows delete, but actually just moves the student from the enrolled to dropped section or vice versa; the setting “Use TE for Email” uses an abbreviation users may not be familiar with (TE = Text Expander). Our interface will be cleaner, especially since we will have fewer features.

2. iGrade for Teachers

The iGrade for Teachers application is geared toward elementary school teachers. The UI is colorful, with a clear “for kids” style. Though our target users are middle and high school users, there are features that we will look into developing into our application. The focus on this application is grading, but there is somewhat of a system for taking attendance, as it keeps track of tardies and absences. The iGrade generates statistics for its grade data, something we will want to do with our attendance data. Also, the iGrade allows for exportation of data, into a format easily read by Microsoft Excel. We will try to incorporate that, as well as directly generating graphs and charts in our app itself. General usability is pretty good – the “Students” tab brings up Student data, the “Tests” tab shows the Test data. However, there are some issues that we will want to avoid. The “Settings” tab is where you set up classes and subjects, which is not a really intuitive name. In addition, students are added one at a time, and the import feature is limited – data must be formatted as one student per line. In our app, we will name our menus appropriately and find a simpler way to import data.

3. Attendance IQ

AttendanceIQ’s target users include teachers, but other users as well. On its website, it suggests uses for coaches, businesses, and personal use. The system AttendanceIQ uses for attendance is more general. Events are created and users are either added from the contacts list or entered manually. Dates need to be added manually, if the event repeats. In our app, we will use the school’s schedule to determine when classes meet, to automatically prompt the teacher to take attendance. Navigation is relatively clean – there are just 3 tabs, which are pretty self-explanatory. However, there are some design issues—users have to be added 1 at a time, which can be slow; dates have to be manually added; the add button is not always easily accessible, as it sometimes is found at the bottom of a list. The simple interface is something we will strive for, but we will make it easier to add people.

4. Educate

Educate is an all-in-one app targeted at the K-12 teacher, whereas our app will be targeted toward middle and high school teachers. Educate includes an attendance taking feature, among a plethora of other features. With Educate, you have a weekly planner, a lesson planner, grade book, strategies for brainstorming, image creator, audio recorded, stopwatch, and a few other things. Navigation is a bit cumbersome, since there are so many features. There are 5 main tabs, plus a “More” tab, to house all the extra features. In this navigation scheme, some features will take many taps to activate. Since we are focusing just on attendance, we will either have fewer tabs or fewer actions per tab.

5. 5. SchoolAxis

Unlike the above applications, SchoolAxis is targeted to parents of students, instead of teachers. SchoolAxis is not an attendance taking application, but does display attendance data of a particular student. Each day is broken into periods, so we can see if a student was present, absent or tardy to a particular class. In addition, SchoolAxis connects to the AERIES school database system. These are two things we consider adding into our app. SchoolAxis displays grades, assignments, attendance history, and the class schedule of the student, in a logical interface. Our interface will likely have tabs, but we will aim for the same intuitiveness in our design.

6. TimeLocker

TimeLocker is the only app that I found to focus just on taking attendance, so the target users are the same. To insert class information, the user must use TimeLocker’s web interface. This is faster than other apps, where you add students manually, or one at a time from contacts. On the iPhone, the TimeLocker app requires a login to retrieve the roster information. Students are shown in a list with a picture, if available. A cool feature we will consider implementing is recording the time at which students are marked present. In TimeLocker, if roll isn’t taken at the beginning of class, students may be marked tardy, when they were on time. We can implement a check for this in our app. Unfortunately, TimeLocker has a cheesy design. For our app, we will strive for a simple, clean, professional look.

7. TeacherTool One

TeacherTool One’s target users are K-12 teachers, compared to just middle and high school teachers for our app. Attendance is just kept by keeping track of absences – TeacherTool One strives to be more of an all-in-one app as opposed to a specialized app. Other features include grade keeping, creating lesson plans, and accessing student information. Absences are “added” to each student, which can get a bit clunky, since you have to select the student, click on absences on the student info page, and then click add. In addition, there aren’t any options for marking a student tardy. Our app will definitely have more in-depth attendance options. We’ll try to keep the number of actions per task down as well.

8. Teacher's Pick

Teacher’s Pick is an app to help teachers randomly choose students to call on for participation. While Teacher’s Pick is not an attendance app, we plan to incorporate a random student selector in our attendance app. Adding classes and students are just limited to one at a time, so large classes may be cumbersome to input. In addition, the app uses smiley faces to denote participation status for each student, which is not very intuitive. My idea would be to just return a student when the random selection button is pressed. The app will keep track of participation for the day or longer and try keep the distribution evenly.

9. WorkLog

WorkLog is an app designed for freelance and independent contractors to keep track of the amount of time they have worked. Time is kept track down to the minute – something we can use in our attendance app (depending on when marked present, the app can automatically mark a student tardy). In addition, WorkLog has a feature to export data into a format readily usable by Excel, so users can quickly create tables and charts with the data. The interface is easy to use, with just 4 tabs. We’ll strive to keep our complexity to the same level.

10. RosterRecall

RosterRecall was designed for teachers with many students. RosterRecall is not an attendance app – it helps teachers put names to faces. The feature I thought would be nice to add to our attendance app is using the current time to predict which class comes next. When we click the “take roll” tab of our app, it can bring up the class we’re most likely taking roll for.

11. Report Card

Report Card is an app designed for students to keep track of their own grades. Again, this is not an attendance app, but it has an provides statistics about your grades, and can dynamically generate graphs based on your goals, test scores, homework scores, etc. Hopefully, we can implement something similar to this for our attendance app.

Summary

Most of the apps I found were all-in-one apps, and attendance was just one of the many features it provided. However, because of all the functionality, most of the apps had clunky interfaces. Since our app will focus solely on attendance, we will have the ability to create a cleaner interface. There was only one app dedicated to attendance, which was TimeLocker. TimeLocker does not have the best interface, so with careful UI design, our app can corner the market. In addition, we will add a few more features that will come in handy, but not overburden the interface. Our app will incorporate:

  • The attendance taking functionality of Attendance – present, absent, tardy, and custom statuses; student pictures
  • The random group creation of Attendance
  • Synchronization to the school database found in SchoolAxis
  • Attendance statistics and trends similar to iGrade and Report Card
  • Time sensing found in TimeLocker
  • Randomly picking students as in Teacher’s Pick

With these features, our attendance app can make teachers’ lives a little easier.



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