myDesk was an educational Windows Phone app with 6 classroom activity tools (SketchIt, Recorder, MapIt, KWL, NotePad, Blurb). Developed as part of a class at the University of Michigan, 3rd graders at a school in Singapore used the app throughout their school year. These tools were deeply integrated into the school's curriculum so that their use supported, rather than directed, their learning. I designed the SketchIt and Recorder tools.
As the project lead in Singapore, I observed the use of the apps in class as teachers and students used it to facilitate class curriculum. I also conducted interviews with the teachers and students about their experience with the apps. By actually being in the classroom, I was able to observe how the apps were really being used and all the ways we hadn't accounted for when initially designing. With that research, we were able to continue improving the apps to meet the teacher and student needs.
Design of the apps involved facilitating activities that we knew the teachers were already having their students do and adapting them to the phone. This was also an opportunity to better understand the Windows Phone design language and understand the constraints that lower-end phones and limited data access would add to a project. As such, we designed an offline mode that would support a model of 'data sipping' instead of a heavy reliance on data.
Development for this project involved both work with an existing codebase and the creation of new apps that work within the already developed ecosystem. This meant interfacing with a custom API, learning the Windows Phone SDK, and learning how phone data plans with unreliable internet access should be handled.