CompetitiveAnalysis-KyleConroy

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Contents

Reinstatement of Idea

Our application, tentatively named Roll Call, helps middle school and high school teachers take attendance and track certain student information. Our group brainstorm can be found here

List of Competitors

  1. Attendance
  2. iGrade for Teachers
  3. Hot Seat
  4. Attendance IQ
  5. Educate
  6. SchoolDoc
  7. Teacher Tool
  8. GradePad
  9. Grade Book
  10. SchoolAxis
  11. Awards

Analysis

Attendance

Target User Group: The author of Attendance states that the app's "main use is for teachers"

Functionality: Attendance allows users to keep track of grades and attendance records in a classroom setting for multiple classes. It can import names from the address book, import a CSV from a web server, email full records, email partial records, and accommodate user-defined status for attendance. Student profiles may include pictures. The app can also make groups for the classroom. Our application will only cover a subset of these functions, meaning we can focus on doing a couple tasks very well instead of including a bunch of mediocre features.

Usability: Attendance enjoys a four start rating with over 95 reviews which is great on the App Store. Due to Attendance offering a multitude of features, its user interface is often cluttered and confusing. Our application will be focused on speed, allowing teachers to quickly use our application right during the middle of class. Therefore, our interface will be streamlined to make data input occur as fast as possible.

iGrade for Teachers

Target User Group: As the name implies, iGrade for Teachers is a grading and attendance program targeted at teachers. Both the testimonials on their website are from elementary school teachers.

Functionality: iGrade for Teachers, similarly to Attendance, packs an incredible amount of features including contact storage, customizable filters, in-applicaiton tutorials, notes, attendance tracking and a full grade book. iGrade for Teachers also allows for exporting of data via email or text file. Our application doesn't plan to be a gradebook replacement; instead, it is meant to sync up with a teacher's current attendance and gradebook system

Usability: iGrade for Teachers has an overall score of three stars with 55 reviews. Again, as with Attendance, the learning curve for this application is steep, as there are so many features. The interface itself is white text on a black background with nonstandard buttons, making text difficult to read and the interface look shoddy. Our application will use many of Interface Builders built-in widgets to create a native iPhone experience.

Hot Seat

Target User Group: From the Hot Seat iTunes page, "A teacher's app designed by teachers"

Functionality: Hot Seat helps teachers truly choose students in a random fashion, making sure no student becomes the teacher's favorite. While this task may sound trivially, humans are actually very bad at picking anything at random. Out application will not focus on this functionality; however, if teachers need this feature, it could later be added.

Usability: Hot Seat has a three stars with 31 reviews. The biggest problem reviews have with the application is the tedious method of inputing student rosters. Our application will make sure to have some kind of roster import function to prevent this problematic data entry. Hot Seat also interacts directly with the iPhone's address book, a feature that may deter teachers, as they do not want to have student contact information saved onto the phone.

Attendance IQ

Target User Group: The target audience for Attendance IQ is fairly large, encompassing any person who needs to take attendance at a small to medium-sized event.

Functionality: Attendance IQ allows for the users to add people and events to the application, and then track these specific people at user-created events. Reports can be issued on a per-person basis. Also, users can define their own statuses for attendance, such as "Tardy", "Late", or "Sick". Unlike Attendance IQ, our application will not allow for users to define events, instead focusing on classes.

Usability: Attendance IQ has a rating of two stars out of 19 reviews. The interface for Attendance IQ is clean, with no custom UI elements. However, the requirement to enter each event for taking attendance is a problem. Our application will be class based, not event based, as a teacher would have to create a new event every day for each of his/her classes, which is a pain. It is also not clear how the user sets a student to absent. With multiple statuses possible, this entry could be a problem. Also, it seems that Attendance IQ suffered from some serious bugs which caused the application to crash. It is unclear if these issues have been resolved.

Educate

Target User Group: The target audience for Educate is teachers, as it bills itself as the "ultimate teacher's companion "

Functionality: Educate does not focus strictly on attendance, choosing instead to cover the a teacher's planning and tracking for a classroom. Educate can sync data to Google Docs, email all students at once, and the ability to track class schedules with a timetable. It also provide small utilities such as a web browser, stopwatch, and voice recorder. Our application will not try to compete with Educate on feature set, as Educate seems to be a victim of feature creep. An application does not need a voice recorder or stopwatch, as these applications are already including with the iPhone OS. The ability to email records is a feature that many teachers will like.

Usability: Educate has a rating of three starts with 24 ratings. The main complaints from the reviews focus on the applications limited scope with regards to lesson plans and timetables. I believe these functions are better suited for a device with a larger screen. From an interface perspective, Educate uses many custom UI buttons and features, many which look underdeveloped. The import and export functions seem to be very popular.

SchoolDoc

Target User Group: SchoolDoc's target audience is teachers as it describes itself as "an iPhone application to help teachers to record marks"

Functionality: SchoolDoc focuses on helping teachers records grades for classes. It can track students and assignments, allowing for grading of assignments on a per-student basis. It gives an overall GPA score on the students profile page. The main tracking is done via a large grid relating students to assignments. Our application will not focus so closely on grades, mainly offering a simplified method for marking progress or completion. I have found that most teachers have a sophisticated grading application available on their's school computers.

Usability: At the time of this review, the SchoolDoc application had zero reviews. The grid layout featured prominently in SchoolDoc provides great information density, but does not allow for quick, on-the-go grade input. This application does not seem to be suited for use during a class while the teacher is up, moving around. However, the grading layout could work when the teacher is not in front of the class

Teacher Tool

Target User Group: Teacher Tool is targeted directly at teachers, describing itself as "a teacher‘s electronic calendar, notebook and course register in your pocket, always available, always complete, always up to date."

Functionality: Teacher Tool has many features, providing a means to take grades, take attendance, input grades, calculate overall course grades, and make quick remarks on the go. It does not offer the ability to import or export data. Teacher Tool aims to be a complete solution for teachers, whereas our application aims to only help record attendance and participation points.

Usability: Teacher Tool has no reviews; however, Teacher Tool Lite, the free version, has a rating of two stars with 274 ratings. The first versions of the application were in German only. Grades are only allowed to be letters with plusses or minuses, which some reviews found limiting. Also, the list of students has large bars showing the current letter in the list, taking up precious vertical space. While the quick remarks feature is nice, it has some odd options available on the screen, such as "Save as template" and "Resubmission". It is not clear what these functions do. Our application hopes to avoid the problems with many teachers having different grading styles by not supporting full fledge grading, leaving that to the teacher's computer.

GradePad

Target User Group: Grade, from its description, is for "teachers, trainers, and coaches"

Functionality: GradePad allows for users to track performance of groups or individuals based on user-defined rubrics. These results can then be sent to a user's email account or accessed from a website. Note taking is also supported on a per-individual basis. GradePad is a great example of a application which has a single function executed well. Our application does not currently allow for such fine-grained performance tracking. This may be a good feature to include.

Usability: GradePad currently has no ratings in the US App Store. One reviewer loved the product, claiming it made tracking group performance in his classroom much easier. The interface in GradPad is clean and simple, with only a few options at each screen. Our application should strive to be as clean and simple. However, this may be difficult as we hope to include more features than GradePad

Grade Book

Target User Group: Grade Book is targeted at teachers, providing teachers the ability to "keep track of grades, marks, and credits"

Functionality: Grade Book allows teachers to create courses and students and assign grades to those individuals. Grade Book does not support the concept of assignments. Instead, students are assigned scores separated by commas. Grade Book also allows teaches to set goals on a per user basis. Our application is similar in that it doesn't allow for assignments; however, we will not be billing ourselves as a grade book.

Usability: Grade Book has a rating of 1.5 stars with nine reviews. While Grade Book allows for easy creation of classes and students, the ease ends there. Assignments can only be entered as a comma-separated list, making grade input very difficult and confusing. Assignment tracking is next to impossible. Also, the application includes large text boxes describing functionality. These boxes really clutter up the interface. Our application can learn what not to do from Grade Book.

SchoolAxis

Target User Group: SchoolAxis' target audience is parents whose child goes to a school using the AERIES Student Information System.

Functionality: SchoolAxis allows for parents to see up-to-date grade, assignment, and attendance information, as well as a students class schedule. No form of data input is supported. Our application will need to display data regarding student participation and attendance in a similar fashion to SchoolAxis.

Usability: The main menu for SchoolAxis is very clean and provides large buttons for the user to easily click. However, the overview view for data uses very small links which look almost impossible to click without accidentally clicking other options as well. Also, the SchoolAxis application does not provide any visualization of its data, instead simply displaying data in a long list. Therefore, trends over time are very difficult to see. Our application should be able to provide these long lists of information only when a user specifically asks for such data. The default should be a graph of some kind.

Awards

Target User Group: Anyone who wants to keep track of other's people actions.

Functionality: Awards allows users to track good behavior, and reward the best people in your life. Easily add people to the app and keep track of their actions via gold stars. Awards has predefined events, so that if your child does the dishes you can easily give them a set number of gold stars. Once a person gets a certain number of gold stars, you can send them rewards via email. Our application hopes to track classroom participation and behavior in a similar manner.

Usability: Awards is very clean and simple application with a great interface. Simply select a user, and then either add a star, or press the plus or minus buttons. The action of recording a good deed takes only a few clicks. Also, the user interface combines custom UI widgets with the iPhone's built in styles, creating a unique but familiar look. While Awards is not a direct competitor, it should serve as great influence on our project design

Summary

After reviewing various classroom applications, the act of grading assignments is covered by a majority of the applications. However, this feature seems to cause users the biggest problems, as many teachers have a very specific way of logging grades. If the application does not fit this model, it makes use very difficult. This review also revealed a lacking ability to visualize data. Most applications provide a simple textual overview, but did not graph this data in any meaningful manner. Data importing / exporting also stood out as an important feature for many users, which is not a surprise. Most teachers must use a school-mandating system, so applications should think about interfacing with as many of these websites as possible. Lastly, the importance of a clean UI really stood out, as many applications used ugly buttons and made text hard to read. Teachers need information access quick; therefore, we should not hinder their speed with bad UI elements



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