Part of the Smart.fm iPhone App Story
Imagine that you want to learn how to read and speak Japanese. You’ve heard about the web-based learning applications offered by smart.fm and check them out. The site is great (and only getting better) but you’d really like to learn Japanese during those in-between moments of day. What if there was a companion smart.fm app for your iPhone?
Well, it’s coming and Adaptive Path is both designing and developing the app. Later this summer you will be able to download an official smart.fm app from the iTunes App Store and learn at your own pace when convenient for you. This project is unique in many ways, not the least of which is our ability to speak very publicly about the work. The team at smart.fm is happy to have us sharing our thinking and our process during the project. We’ll be posting regularly to the blog. You will get to hear about challenges, accomplishments and insights directly from practitioners. When possible we will bring in the smart.fm team as well to give you the client perspective. Adaptive Path is just thrilled to be able to design in the open like this. We are looking forward to hearing from you as well, so please leave comments!
Domo Arigatō (ありがとう), Tokyo
Alexa and I spent the last week in Tokyo Japan, home of smart.fm. We not only kicked off the iPhone app project but also wrapped up a previous engagement, a redesign of the smart.fm web site. Our time spent working face-to-face with the rest of the team proved to be invaluable.
As you would guess, everyone at the company has a strong opinion about the mobile app and what it should accomplish. We needed to channel this enthusiasm towards the goal of a refined set of tasks that users will actually find compelling.
A core team including developers, designers and product managers gathered for a day of workshopping. We facilitated the brainstorming of the mobile context in which this app would live. For example, we all agreed that mobile phones are great social lubricants (hand it to a friend), great for quick check-ins and great for when you have unexpected downtime. All of the ideas generated were clustered and use cases for the smart.fm learning tools were mapped on top of the mobile context.
The next step was the organization of the resulting use cases into a mental model and the listing of application features under each mental space. Features that were both appropriate for use on a mobile and support a mental space were added. Those features that were better served by the site or that just didn’t fit, went into another pile.
By the end of the day we had the following mental spaces, ordered in priority
- Study: See what I need to do, do it, and see how I’m doing
- Capture: Create items that you want to learn, or share items with others
- Discover: Find something new to learn
- Look up: Use smart.fm as a quick reference tool on-the-go
- See what’s going on: A dashboard of your activity in the smart.fm universe
- Respond & react: Answering questions from other users
In addition to the workshop with a select team, we also spent time interviewing many other stakeholders in the company to get their thoughts.
“If [the app] has the ability to share and teach someone who’s right there with you then it’s a different type of social—physically social. How can it fit into people’s real lives?”
Simon Dennett, Creative Director
With this foundation in place, combined with the detective work from Dane back home in our San Francisco office, we’ll begin defining the structure of the iPhone app.
Of course, what trip to Tokyo would be complete without a little bit of play. Our hosts were terrific about showing us their town. We were able to take in some of the best sights and tastes that Tokyo has to offer. Fresh sushi anyone?
Not Our First Time
This project may be unique in our ability to broadcast it real time, but it’s certainly not our first mobile project. Nor is this our first smart.fm project! The iPhone app will actually be our second major project with the smart.fm team. As I mentioned a bit earlier, we recently wrapped up the experience design of their web site, turning it into the collaborative, social and motivational learning app that users are longing for. Adaptive Path’s learnings on the site design are feeding directly into the upcoming iPhone design. Kate, Alexa, Kumi and Brian worked on this project and look forward to sharing more about it on the blog real soon!
About smart.fm & Cerego
Combining cognitive science with the social and collaborative structure of the web, Cerego empowers people to learn faster, remember longer, and manage their knowledge.
Based on years of applied research, Cerego has built adaptive, web-based applications that accelerate knowledge acquisition. Cerego’s patented core learning engine is driven by algorithms that generate optimal learning schedules for discrete chunks of declarative learning content, called “items”. This intelligent scheduling is achieved by gathering metadata on individual user performance and modeling memory decay patterns at the granular level of every item.
Cerego’s smart.fm platform represents the first phase of a platform that combines personalized learning applications and content creation tools in a collaborative, social environment – a place where anyone can study, create, re-mix, share, and manage learning content of any kind, from foreign languages to medical terminology, from photographs to paintings, from people to sound.