CompetitiveAnalysis-WeizhiLi

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Contents

Restatement of idea:

Our application is for middle and high school teachers to help take attendance and record some students’ class activity in class.

List of competitors:

1. iGrade

2. Attendance

3. Attendance IQ

4. Teacher's Pick

5. Attendance Countdown

6. Blackboard Mobile Central

7. Take Attendance with Android Phone and Google Forms Central

8. School Connect(Admin)

9. Attendance Manager

10. iPhone attendance taker in Japanese university


1. iGrade

Target User Group:

The target user group of iGrade is for middle and high school teachers.

Functionality & Usability:

iGrade is an iPhone application, which is packed with features that a teacher would want in a portable grade book. It is a simple but powerful tool to manage all student information including grade, notes, and attendance. It allows teachers to record all the student information that needs to be recorded and provides a very good statics analysis, such as GPA, tardies, absences. The UI is fairly good with a black background and big fond makes it easy to use. However, I notice that this application is student sorted which means you can only view information in the people tab. What I know is that generally in middle or high school teachers teach more than one class, usually 2-3 classes. This may make this application not easy to use. Also in my opinion there is too much functionality in this app which limits the ease of use. Some of those functions need not to be a mobile solution. Our app will mainly focus on attendance and make the task as fast and easy as possible.


2. Attendance

Target User Group:

The target user group is for college instructors.

Functionality & Usability:

Unlike the first one, this app seems like made for college instructors so the interface is very prim without any graphic. Even the icon is a little dreary. But better than the first one, this one is course sorted, which makes the instructor easier to find the right course they are working on. One very interesting feature other that the mainly function, taking attendance, is that you can email information such as notes, report, notice to students with the build-in email function. This app is functionally good, but the style of interface design is too terse. In our application, we will try to preserve our main functions with a much better inter face design that can maximize the user’s experience.


3. Attendance IQ

Target User Group:

The target user group is any group needs to take attendance for activities class, company meeting, sports practice, and parties.

Functionality & Usability:

Attendance IQ, an iPhone application, is general-use attendance taker. Just like the second app the interface is also very terse, a navigation view with three tabs. It can easily mark present or absent on one person’s info page and choose reasons for absence. Another good design is that, users can add new person or delete existing person very easily. Just like the second one, it does not give the user a very good graphic visualization, especially in the date page; it simply put all the date in a table view.


4. Teacher's Pick

Target User Group:

The target user group is teachers in kindergarten, middle and high school.

Functionality & Usability:

Teacher's Pick is a very simple setup iPhone application, which gives you the ability to randomly and uniquely choose students. It’s very easy to add class names and the students in each class. It also keeps track of which students are active and inactive (already chosen) and gives you options to pick a student from the active group or pick from the full group. At the end of the day or week just touch a button and all of the students are returned to active status. It does not intend for attendance taking, but what attracts me is the way it mark a person active of inactive, by adding a small face icon on its name sticker. This is very good graphic visualization and what we may apply in our app.


5. Attendance Countdown

Target User Group:

The target user group is company employee.

Functionality & Usability:

Attendance Countdown is an iPhone application that is not target on teachers. It has a very simple task that is to keep track of your arrival and working time. It has a simple view show current time, arrival time, working hours and a countdown informs you of the time left you have to stay at work. I think in our app we can add a similar feature that keep track of the time when a class started and then if some one's late the minutes of lateness is automatically recorded in the student's information.


6. Blackboard Mobile Central

Target User Group:

The target user group is college students.

Functionality & Usability:

Blackboard Mobile Central is a suite of custom iPhone applications aimed at students in college. The most recently one is iStanford that is customized for students in Stanford University. It comes with a lot of functions with include directions, news, events manager, course catalog, library and so on. But this app keeps all those functions in a concise interface. Especially in the "Course Catalog" view, the course's information, such as description, time, date and time, presents very clearly in the view, which we can learn from.


7. Take Attendance with Android Phone and Google Forms Central

Target User Group:

The target user group is any one who needs to take attendance.

Functionality & Usability:

This is not an application but a very smart solution taking advantage of Google Forms to take attendance using a Android Phone. The instruction in the website shows the exact steps that help you to create a simple attendance form using Google Forms. Then simply email the link to your Android phone and perform the task on it. This solution really attracts me because as we all know that typing on a computer is much faster than on a mobile phone. This solution gives me a idea that, we can add a feature that allow our user to edit information on a computer, and in some way "synchronize" those information with a mobile phone, and also the other way around. A mobile phone allows user to perform tasks handy and promptly, but you can performs a more comprehensive management on a computer. Therefore, in our app, we will try to find a way to connect them in a way that can make this task easier.


8. School Connect(Admin)

Target User Group:

The target user group is high school and college teachers (another version without "Admin" is for students).

Functionality & Usability:

School Connect is an iPhone application that offers real-time access to a online student information database. This application includes basic student information, Classes and Assignments, Upcoming Assignments, School Bulletins, as well as Today's Schedule and Attendance updates by period as the day progresses. It is also a quick contact utility that allows you to immediately contact the student parents. This is very powerful, like client-server software, which can update and share data via internet. However, the use of this app requires some particular requirements, which means it cannot be widely used by teachers in all different school.


9. Attendance Manager

Target User Group:

The target user group is middle/high school and college teachers

Functionality & Usability:

Attendance Manager is a Windows Mobile PPC application, that is used to take the attendance. It can also help to keep track the student information. All the student details are stored and can be retrieved easily with Edit and Delete Options. Edit and Retrieve of Attendance can be done by their respective modules. This Windows Mobile app's user interface is simple without any graphic visualization, which may be hard to use. The font is also very small and everything is just ugly. However, a powerful feature is that, you don't need to add student information in your contact and you can just text or call student directly in this application.


10. iPhone attendance taker in Japanese university

Target User Group:

The target user group is students in Aoyama Gakuin University.

Functionality & Usability:

This is a custom solution for Aoyama Gakuin University. It's a GPS based attendance taker on iPhone. The university gives every student a iPhone with a particular app installed. Students then can simply enter a 3-digit alphanumeric code to confirm their presence. The iPhone’s GPS helps verify that the student is actually in school when the code is entered. The attendance task is performed instantly. And unlike all the app above, the students take attendance by themselves and the teacher only have to announce the code and collect data. Despite the fear that the GPS-based attendance may lead to privacy issues, this High-tech solution make this task easier than any other solutions. However, this solution is costy that needs an iPhone with this custom application built-in for every single student.


Summary:

After a comprehensive search of mobile applications that help teacher or student taking attendance, I found that most of the existing applications provides lots of other features, and attendance taking is just one of the small feature they covers. As our propose is to help teacher to finish this task quickly accurately and distraction free, so we mainly focus on attendance taking, and avoid too many other unrelated features that distract the user. Some of the applications do has sole feature, but their user interface design is either too dull or too complex, which makes the application not friendly to use. In our project, we will mainly focus on how to design better our user interface with the full supply of our desired features, so our application can be comfortably and widely used in this field. This analysis above also gives me some insight of the features of our application that we should learn from those existing products:

  • A built-in timer to keep track of the time when a class started and then if some one's late the minutes of lateness is automatically recorded in the student's information.
  • Can synchronize information with computer.
  • Real-time and graphic statistics page.
  • Allow user to add and delete new person or new class easily.


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