Google — Names & Faces
Design exercise

At the beginning of each new semester or school year, teachers are faced with the challenge of remembering names for a large number of new students. Design an experience to help educators match faces to names, with the goal of shortening the time needed to reach complete un-aided accuracy.

Design process

Get the right idea
Understand (Discover needs)
• Clarifying brief
• Topic research 
• Constraints
• User interviews

Define (Define direction)
• User stories
• Customer journey map
• Design principles

Get the idea right
Explore (Design solutions)
• Ideation
• Validation

Solutioning (Deliver results)
• User flow
• Wireframes
• Visual/Interaction design

Clarifying brief
Before the start of assignment, there are some immediate internal thoughts that are floating in my head that I would like to seek for further clarifications regarding this exercise.

Semester or school year
• What particular education stage or school year are we talking about? Kindergarten? Primary education, Secondary education or Tertiary education?

• What demographic is this experience cater to? A classroom with students from different ethnics? Or just a particular segment?
• For each class, do students visit the teacher or does the teacher comes to the classroom?

• Are we catering to only teachers that are teaching in a classroom? Or also teachers that teach extra-curriculum, sports related classes which will be outdoor all the time?

The experience
• What is the scope for this? Are we considering offline experience too?
• What medium or channels do we need to consider?
• Can we consider blue sky ideas?

Complete un-aided accuracy
• Are we trying to achieve the goal of having the teacher to match faces and names of students independently without the help of any offline/online tools?
• If it is a wearable experience, does that mean it will have to be taken off after goal been achieved? From a business point of view, does that seem to be less economical?
• How do we measure success? 

Topic research
I researched on strategies teachers are using to match names and faces of students.

How do teachers match names and faces?
• Name tags.
• Seating chart.
• Take roll call.
• Ice breaking activities (Have students introducing themselves, give their name each time before they speak).
• Peruse class roll and name register along with students’ photos.
• Use students’ names as often.
• Physical cues as visual hooks.
• Not being afraid to ask for someone’s name when forget.

For this design exercise, I have given myself a boundary where the design solution is to be contained.

• Designing an experience that is catered for the Asian market.
• Targeting the primary and secondary schools.

User interviews
I want to bring the voice of the user into the solution. It helps me better understand the problem, identify assumptions and gaps in my thinking. For my interviews, I have selected educators as my interview participants as I believe they will be the best candidates for me to probe their pain points, motivation, challenges and needs to get a deeper understanding of how I could create an experience that satisfy the design goal.

Remote Skype user interviews (2 users).
Questionnaire (3 users).
P1: Madam Lai Yoong (Left) P2: Mr Jiunn Shyong (Right) 

Interview questions:
• Which type of student do you find it easiest to remember? Why?
• While you are in a classroom or outside of a classroom, how do you interact with the students?
• Why do u see the need to address them by name or remember the face? What's the trigger? What motivates you? What are the benefits?
• Before the start of a new semester or entering a new class, in the context of matching students faces to names, do you do any preparations? What documents do you get before hand?
• After working hours, outside of work, are there any triggers that will make you recall students’ names and faces?
• Do you have a process for remembering new names and faces? How do you break the ice? How?
What’s the frustrations or challenges when it comes to matching faces to names?
• How easy and how long is it for you to remember names and faces? Do you still remember your student’s name and face after years?
• What is your daily teaching schedule like? On a weekly basis how many classes do you teach each week and for how many periods? How many students in average do you meet and greet?
• What happens when you can't remember a student name? Or face? How do you solve that? Do you feel awkward trying to recall names or faces in front of someone?
• Is there anything you wish that is out there in the market that will allow you to help remembering names and faces?

I gathered all the observations and refined them into meaningful insights. I did this by physically sorting the observations into piles of similar meaning. I then further develop them into themes and theories.
Themes and insights
On a single week: Teachers teach about ~25 periods (~35 mins each). Depending on the subjects they are teaching, teachers normally teach around 5 classes (~40 students). Hence for each class on a weekly basis, teachers spend around ~180 mins (3 hours) interacting with students.

Benchmark: A class of 40 students with 2 times interaction per week will take a teacher roughly (1 to 2 months) to remember all. 5 classes will 3 or 4 months.

In average (Based on limited research):
Teachers spent 180 mins (3 hours) interacting with students (1 class, 40 students) on a weekly basis. For 5 classes, it takes 3 to 4 months to remember all.

Measurement: Our solution has to be better than that.

Small subset of teachers who teach subjects like arts, music, IT or sports will normally have more classes (up to 10) but only 1 hour (2 periods) of interaction per week with each class.

A) Benefits of matching faces to names
Students feel respected
Students like to be recognized. They like to be given attention and saying their names make them feel special. It says that the teacher is showing an interest in the student. It builds relationship.

Positive classroom dynamics
It just makes the whole interaction and classroom activity smoother when you don’t have to refer to a class roll or stumbled at the awkward moment trying to recall a student’s name. It creates better rapport with the students and better facilitation in the classroom.

B) Teaching subjects matter
Time with students
Amount of time spent interacting with students will differ depending on teaching subjects. Core academic based subjects like languages, science or maths will see teachers spending more time with students of the same class (multiple periods) each week. However subjects like physical education, arts or music will see teachers spend less time with students (1 or 2 periods) each week.

Random seating classes
Laboratory, computer or classes that require students to relocate to a different room will means random seating every single time. This puts more emphasize on teachers to be able to match faces to names.

Outdoor activities
Physical education will require students to change their attire (means removing name tags if the school has it on uniform) and perform outdoor activities. It is easier to identify students’ physical attributes however it is a challenge to put a name to it.

Language classes
Teachers who are teaching language classes eg: Mandarin will require the teacher to remember both the Chinese and English name. Adding further cognitive load.

C) Teacher-student interactions
Quiet students / Noisy students
Students who are mischievous, naughty and playful are normally the ones that got the attention from the teachers. Teachers tend to pay attention to them as they stood up more. And for students who are generally quiet, teachers seek out for these imbalances in participation and to find ways to balance them.

Low performing students / High performing students
For students that aren’t performing well in some subjects, some teachers will tend to change their seats and have them sitting closer to them for close monitoring. Students on the other side of the spectrum who are high achievers normally get the attention of teachers too.

Walk around the classroom
Teachers enjoy walking around the classroom when they are teaching. This changes the dynamics in the classroom and make the whole class more engaging and he/she is able to inspect the students and ask them questions face to face.

Assign roles and responsibilities
A student who is the class monitor will normally interact with the teachers more often than others. Some teachers might give extra roles to students during his/her classes.

Office hours
Students who take the initiative to look for teachers at the teacher’s room questions will be remembered more.

Relief classes
Relief classes are very different from own classes and it is happens very often. Teachers have very little time to plan and he/she needs to interact with unfamiliar group of students they have never met before. 

D) Diversity
Physical appearances
Teachers tend to look for unique identifiable visual cues on a student’s appearances. Students with visible disabilities are also normally easier to remember.

Various ethnic background
Students of a different ethnicity will normally have names that sometimes can be challenging for teachers to remember. In a multiracial school, an Indian student might be called “Subhadra Devi Balakrishnan”. Or a Malay name such as “Sarah Izzati Seeni Mohamed”. A Chinese will have both a Chinese and English name.

E) Outside of school or classroom
Marking papers, writing remarks
Teachers spent a large amount of reviewing a student's work. Teachers will often find the needs to match a name on an assignment to a face. Either the student has done badly or scored well in a test, teachers will like to recall who the person is. 

Social network
Students will take the initiative to connect with teacher through social network eg: Facebook. Teachers tend to remember students that are connected with them more.

F) Conventional tools and methods
Seating chart, class roll
Teachers have been relying on a seating chart along with a class roll to identify faces and names. Teachers find them handy and are comfortable to refer to it every now and then.

Visible name
If a teacher is within close proximity with a student. They will rely on name tags, name cards on a table or written names on exercise books to identify the students.

Name association
Some names might have a similar sound as another word in a dictionary or it reminds of someone famous or it could sound like something that is meaningful to the teachers in another context. Teachers find names as such easier to remember.

Customer journey map + User stories
I documented the requirements of a teacher in the form of user stories and visualizes them in process that a teacher will need to go through in order to complete each goal. It tells a story that helps to understand and address a teacher's needs. 
Design principles
A set of design principles that help me define the key qualities and aspects that should underpin the experience. It helps to form the design rationale. It will help me articulate how the design should feel or to be experienced.

A) Non-obtrusive 
The experience has to be friendly and not causing any discomfort between the teachers and the people that it interacts with (students). Eg: Perform a facial recognition when the student notices is awkward and it is perceived as invading the student's privacy. 

B) Seamless integration
Each teacher has his/her own teaching habits. The experience has to assimilate into the daily's life of a teacher without resulting in any discernable discomfort or complications. Eg: Spending extra time outside of work playing a memory game or wearing a device/accessory that is gawkish.

C) Easy to use
The experience has to be easy to use without making the teachers seem clumsy. It shouldn't obstruct a teacher's movement and change the way teachers interact with students. Eg: Needing to hold a device on a hand all the time. 

Ideation + Validation
With pen and paper, I developed and generated a few ideas. The goal is to get as many ideas as possible without putting any technical limitations. They were then collated and sent out to friends and family for a quick validation and vote. 
Design direction:
Based on the findings and feedback, I will be designing a mobile app that will help increase teacher-student interaction frequency and having more profiling of each student's characteristics and background. With this I believe it will shorten the time needed for teachers to match students' faces to names.

User flows
As part of this exercise, I am documenting only the key user flows that diagrams the various touch points and decision points a teacher will go through to achieve his/her goals. 

Things to note:
• Only highlighting key user flows on a scenario basis (Before, during, after school).
• I didn't get the time to flesh out every possible touch points/decision points in the flow.
• Flows such as how a teacher or multiple teachers contribute student's information such as (photos, academic & achievement records, positive/negative remarks, medical history, special needs, roles & responsibilities etc) are not covered.
Wireframe + Design
As part of this exercise, I am focusing on just wireframing one particular key flow (Before school scenario).
High fidelity mock (home screen)
To recap, the goal of this project is to design an experience that will help educators match faces to names, with the goal of shortening the time needed to reach complete un-aided accuracy.

The design direction:
Increase teacher-student interaction frequency and having more profiling of each student's characteristics and background will shorten the time needed for teachers to match students' faces to names.

Benchmark (Need to be better than this):
On average, for 5 classes (200 students), it takes 3 to 4 months to remember all.

Based on my user interviews with my participants and research, there is a strong pattern that indicates teachers would like to use a product that could integrate right into their daily teaching habits and styles. Teachers spend a large amount of time outside of a classroom or after school to review the work on the students. We should take this opportunity to look at how we could reinforce teachers' memory of students during those time.

Memorizing is hard. It puts a lot of cognitive load on a person. Having more mental anchors, visual hooks and associations help a teacher remember a student. Playing a memory game on your own time is extra work. Hence, creating a database and profile of a student that teacher could access easily can be helpful. In the process of recalling things about the students, teachers get to know them better too. Teachers can "invest" in the product by adding more insights about the student that will in return help him/herself or other teachers remember students. This helps to create a habit forming product (The more you use, the better it becomes).

A conventional seating chart along with photos and names have been proven to be very useful in a classroom. It is cheap (price of printing and paper) and easy to prepare. Teachers around the world have been using this. The experience I am designing will help complement this offline solution.

I did consider other ideas that require more technology capabilities. However I didn't include them for a few reasons:
• Thinking from a business point of view, to design a wearable device just for matching faces and names isn't all that practical as part of the brief "reach un-aided accuracy" will mean the device will be taken off. 
• What happen when such devices that can recognize students' faces and names fall on to the hands of kidnappers or criminals? 
• For beauty purposes people might not want to use any wearables such as glasses.
• I value and cherish the teacher-student interaction. If the experience makes identifying new students so easy will that jeopardize that? 
• Privacy concerns when recognition is performed without the student knowing.
• There shouldn't be any alterations to a teacher's teaching style such as (performing certain gestures to activate device) to recall a name of a person. 
• It is more awkward to detect someone faces and names (with the student noticing) than to just say "Sorry, but what is your name again?"

What can I do better?
A few things I would have liked to address if I had more time and resources:
• Seek technical advices on technologies that recognize faces and names.
• Research on other industries.
• Recruit participants (teachers) that is more diversified.
• Recruit participants (students) to hear from their perspective.
• Spent effort largely on discovery phase, should have balanced with solutioning phase.
• Explore more on IA, different UI patterns and how we could communicate information better.
• Create a prototype and usability test it.