Booming online video learning market and challenges it brings to learners
Udemy. Coursera. Masterclass. The popularity of online courses has increased over the past decade, and the global online learning market is expected to reach $325 billion by 2025. Many companies are rolling out their own learning platforms.
Remote, digital learning offers immense flexibility and convenience for learners but also brings them new challenges.
Noticing the difficulties that learners face, I conducted a desk research and found that even though there were e-learning tools available, it is far from a saturated market and there doesn't seem to be a clear winner.
To understand the needs of online video course learners
My hypothesis was that learners need a way to utilize video courses much like how they would a book—leafing through it for a glimpse of the content, taking notes, bookmarking a page, and highlighting text.
To better understand exactly what it is that video course learners need, I recruited 8 frequent video course learners who have used both free and paid video platforms to learn various subjects.
Too much time wasted on rewatching and manual typing
After many fruitful conversations with my research participants, I discovered why they relied on videos to learn, what they typically did while watching a video, and what they did afterwards. These users can be separated into two groups: Non-note takers and avid note takers.
What bothered them about video learning included not being able to interact with the instructor / fellow students, having a hard time finding the right videos, and having to rewatch videos to find what they needed.
Main pain points
1. Users were greatly annoyed by having to rewatch a video to find what they need.
2. Manual copying down the transcript while they take notes was too time consuming.
3. Video titles were misleading sometimes—they wished they could know the content beforehand.
4. Users wanted to share or see others’ notes to see a different perspective or what they have missed.
How might we help learners reduce rewatching the same video to find what they need?
After synthesizing research data, I brainstormed possible solutions by using a common brainstorming technique where I first thought of all the bad ideas then flipping them into good ones.
Some of the brainstorming prompts:
- How might we help learners find learning materials across platforms to supplement their current video?
- How might we help learners reduce rewatching the same video to find what they need?
- How might we help learners interact with one another?
Current offerings of existing products focused only on time-stamped note taking
I dived back into researching 6 existing products that help users take notes while watching a video, this time analyzing their strengths, weaknesses, and unique value propositions. They were mostly browser extensions so I installed each to test them out.
One possible way to alleviate some of my user pain points was utilizing transcript, and it seemed like none of these products' current offerings involved transcript. Most of them offer time-stamped note-taking and screenshots as the main features.
Business Goals & Tech Constraints
Utilizing transcripts would be a great business opportunity that also solves user pain points
Utilizing transcripts seemed like a great business opportunity, since it was rare and would help solve two of the main user pain points: not being able to preview content and having to type transcripts manually.
I brainstormed on how exactly it could solve those problems, and how real world application it might be.
I consulted an engineer about my ideas; I wanted to know if the tool would be able to generate or grab the transcripts of a video on any platform, which would be the ideal for such a product.
The short answer was yes, and Youtube would be an easy start as you can access its transcript via the API. Therefore, I decided to focus on Youtube to test out my product idea.
MVP: AI generated summary & transcript highlighting
A tool that allows users to see an AI generated summary of a video beforehand, highlight transcripts, and bookmark any moment for reference later.
Optional note publishing to share with the community.
Designing an extension for two user groups: avid note-takers and non-note-takers.
Fitting in all the features in a limited amount space in a browser extension while considering my two user groups—non-note-takers (who could still benefit from transcript highlighting) and avid note takers (those that need transcripts and all other note taking features) turned out to be quite challenging.
Also, none of the 8 users I’ve talked to have ever used a note-taking extension. This was going to be an unfamiliar product for them.
Therefore, to make sure my design was on the right track, I ran an initial usability testing on 3 users on my low fidelity prototype before moving forward with more details and a higher resolution design.
Iterations of Low-fidelity Wireframes
Applying OOUX to look at the product afresh
It wasn’t part of the plan to have so many ideations at the hi-fidelity stage. This project proved to be more complex than I’d expected, and as I designed further and got more user feedback, I’d solve a problem by introducing another.
It was around this time that I came to know Object Oriented UX (OOUX). I tried to apply the principles and re-think the whole product.
This process helped me look at the product in every aspect, from high level main features to details like the metadata of each feature, and the interconnections between them all.
The main change I made was to reintroduce the limit of 1 video to 1 page, rather than letting users choose to add notes from a video to an existing page that contains notes from several different videos. Even though there's advantage to having to such feature and there are solutions, it creates a lot of chaos, something that could easily scare off a new user.