Boise State develops new Storyboard app to help students with capstone projects

Photo courtesy of Freestocks

Boise State’s Storyboard Initiative helps students acknowledge the value of every experience beyond the classroom through projects that focus on reflection and storytelling. This can be a difficult task for students given the amount of time they put into their classes and the intensity of a college life.

Last fall, the General Education Committee approved a new approach to Finishing Foundations (FF) at Boise State that now requires integrating reflection into capstone courses. Students were asked to look back at their Boise State experiences, name their goals and articulate the next steps for what they will do after graduation.

The Storyboard app will be an important tool in helping students to collect and reflect throughout their Boise State experience, making the most of their final reflection assignment.

The Storyboard application allows students to gather completed work throughout their time at Boise State. This includes a diverse number of projects from videos of presentations they have made and links to papers they have written. It will offer writing prompts, such as how they will be contributing, what major did they choose and more.

The original goal was to have the first version available by fall 2020. Unfortunately, the Operator Interface Terminal (OIT) app development team, led by software engineer Phil Merrell, was called upon to support the campus COVID-19 response, and that meant they needed to put the Storyboard project on hold. Even with the pause and additional workload, the OIT team was able to finish a functional beta version of Storyboard this fall.

One of the student members working on the project Chloe Pampush, a recent Boise State graphic design graduate went on to talk about her experience working on the Storyboard App.   

“As we finished designing user flows for the app, we prototyped the designs so we could find inconsistencies in the design or holes in the user experience, which was very helpful,” Pampush said.

[Photo of a person using a creative app]
Photo courtesy of Freestocks

Pampush believes they will be releasing an early test version without full functionality. This will allow the future designers and developers to learn from users about what is working or not working, and fix any issues before releasing another version that takes into account user feedback and adds additional functionality.

The team is currently in their first phase of testing. They are working with a small group of Boise State students to provide user-based feedback on the app. The Storyboard team has invited students from the Bronco Gap Year program to test the app as part of their experience.

According to Visual Communications Manager Lanh Russell, with how the development team is set up; they are going to create a minimum viable product (MVP) first, then start building in more features.

“MVPs are great for testing purposes because while they have the design, it is great for users to check out the application early and provide feedback before further development or design changes,” Russell said.

Boise State’s English Department Associate Professor Kelly Meyers spoke about what currently can be said in the making of the app as an integral part of the curriculum for the Finishing Foundations courses.

“We are, however, aware that students and faculty are already juggling a lot during this pandemic, and that makes us hesitant to add one more thing. So, we are going to work with students and faculty on an opt-in basis this spring to begin integrating the app into FF courses,” Meyers said.  “Overall, we have two main goals for how students will use the app, in order to get there, Boise State students will guide us.”

Meyers explained the Storyboard team’s goals are to create a way for each student to pause and decide if the assignment is something they should save.Every time a student receives a reflection notification from the app, the team wants them to make it a priority to create the time and space to respond.  

After this first phase of testing, the Storyboard team is planning on opening the testing to a wider range of students, faculty and staff spring 2021. Their mission is to have a full public launch of the app in the fall of 2021, with an invite-only release in the spring. 

Pampush believes that when the app is ready to launch, it will be available for download on both the Apple and Google app stores and will be promoted in classes by professors.

“The app will require some time for the entire faculty and student population at Boise State to adopt it, so with this method it will be easier to onboard students to the process and test for issues before expanding it to the entire student body,” Pampush said.

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