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Longer Projects Rubric

Final Project#

Your final project should use some of the technologies that we learned about throughout the semester.

We will spend significant class time learning, troubleshooting, and exploring the Assembly Line Weaver and Docassemble. Therefore, most students should default to doing a Docassemble-based project that is part of the Court Forms Online Assembly Line, but you are not required! Every year students come in with ideas for exciting, meaningful projects that use a different technology or that do not fit the Assembly Line format.

Alternative tools could include:

Class projects may range from the proof of concept stage to real, working products. For purposes of this class, you should aim at a minimum for the "useful prototype" stage. Projects that exceed that level and demonstrate effort, skill, and fit for solving a real-world problem will earn an "exceeds expectations."

You are welcome to work in a group of two or three for your final project. Your grade for the final project will be shared between all members of the group. Expectations for the complexity and scope of your project will be higher if you work in a group. You are free to divide the work as you choose.

Final project ideas#

  • Triage tools -- direct someone to an outcome or resource
  • Advice tools -- evaluate whether someone's case meets a legal standard
  • Intake tool -- gather facts and send them somewhere. Should have some logic in it
  • Document automation -- get information and produce a legal form at the end

If you are not sure what project you want to work on, you can select a form from the Doc Assembly Line project.

Summary of Grading#

Your grade for your final project will reflect:

CategorySummaryDue datePercent of grade
Initial outlineDraft of questions and instructionsWeek 715%
ResearchDocument the work done to understand the form's purpose and meaningGraded at end10%
Final presentationPresent your work in progressWeek 1310%
CompletenessHow well does the project solve the problem?Graded at end20%
Polish and refinementHow refined is the user experience, including use of language, input types, and question order?Graded at end20%
Iteration and use of feedbackHow well did the student solicit and incorporate feedbackGraded at end10%
Final project descriptionHow well did the student document the process of development?Graded at end10%
Preparing for handoffHow well did the student document the next steps to continue refining the project?Graded at end5%

Research#

Use your research skills to identify the relevant statutes, rules, and context that your user would need to navigate your app.

Document the location and sources that supports your work.

For example: https://masslegalhelp.org; https://mass.gov.

Initial outline#

A 2-3 page paper draft of your final project, plus a 1-2 page draft set of instructions for a user to follow after they walk away from your app.

This is only a draft, and at this early stage, you may still have a lot of unanswered questions. That's OK. Do your best to be complete and to identify sources for unanswered questions.

Draft of project#

Write out an outline or draft of the following. If you are not sure yet, identify sources that you can use to fill in the missing details. Do your best to be complete.

  1. Review your final project's output document.
  2. Put yourself in the position of an attorney sitting across the table from your client and filling in the form or providing advice.
  3. Who is your client? What goal do they have?
  4. What stage of their legal problem are you intervening at?
  5. What information would you need? Write a brief list.
  6. What would your client need to know before they meet with you? What documents might they bring? What might they need to look up in a third-party source?
  7. What questions would you want to ask? Write down a summary of the questions.
  8. What information and context would your client need? Write down an outline of the information your user would need.
Draft of instructions#

Write out an outline or draft of the following. If you are not sure yet, identify sources that you can use to fill in the missing details. Do your best to be complete.

  1. Put yourself in the position of an attorney again.
  2. What steps would your client need to follow after they meet with you?
  3. What real-world actions might happen in response to your advice or filing the form?
  4. When and how will the client receive a result from the form or advice?

Final presentation#

You will be asked to present your work to the class during our last class session. This does not need to be a completed project. You will still have 2 weeks to finish your work. Your final presentation should be about 5 minutes, and include:

  1. A description of the problem you were trying to solve.
  2. A walkthrough of your ideation and research phases.
  3. A demonstration of your proposed solution.
  4. A discussion of your project's impact, and if applicable, testing.

You are welcome but not required to incorporate slides and a live demo. It's okay if you only demo a few screens. Errors are to be expected but your final product that you turn in should run through to the end.

Completeness, polish and refinement#

Most of your grade for the final project will be about how complete, polished, and refined it is.

However: we all come to this work from different places. Technical barriers and glitches will not be the foundation of your grade. Focus on:

  1. Logically ordered and constructed questions.
  2. Use of appropriate inputs (e.g., area fields, radio buttons), at least noting where you wanted to use a different input but were stuck.
  3. Grouping fields together logically and making thoughtful choices about the length of screens.
  4. Use of clear, readable language.
  5. Provision of helpful information and context to your user.
  6. Creation of an appropriate set of "next steps" instructions for your user to take with them after they finish using your app.

Most of these steps can be documented in a Word document or in a series of wireframe mock-ups even if you run into issues with code. Focus on the substance, not the code, and ask for help when you are stuck.

Iteration and incorporation of feedback#

Few project plans survive contact with real world needs. An important step of development is reaching a prototype quickly so that you can demonstrate it to clients, subject matter experts, and peers and solicit feedback.

You are expected to:

  1. Send a prototype of your app, or app outline, to an expert early to get advice and feedback. (If an expert is available).
  2. Send out your app for feedback from members representing your potential clients. These can be friends, family, or peers.

Most forms should have experts available, either inside the university or the Court Forms Online volunteer project. If there is no expert for your form, it may not be the right form for you.

You should document all feedback but not all feedback will be actionable. Be thoughtful about what feedback you decide to implement and which you decide against. You may also have feedback that is a good idea but is too advanced to reach in the context of this class. Write that down, too.

Documenting feedback is not all you should do: use the feedback to revise, improve, and extend your app's capabilities. You may choose to document this process with screenshots along the way, or with the GitHub commit log.

A model app will have at least 3-4 revisions and feedback from 3-4 individuals, although not each revision will get its own round of feedback.

Final project description#

Your final project description is my best way to know how you did with each of the separate graded components above.

Describe your work process, the form itself, and reflect on how well you achieved each of the gradeable components of the project.

A model project description will be at least 2 pages, but may extend longer if it includes excerpts from user feedback or next steps.

Preparing for handoff#

Many student projects live only in the classroom. For example, an engineering student's model of a bridge will never get built: And that's OK.

Code-based projects, however, can always be extended, improved, and refined. If you chose a form on the Court Forms Online Assembly Line, your form may be picked up by a student in the next months or years. Even if you did not, part of your grade includes:

  1. Identifying work that you did not complete but that would meaningfully improve the form.
  2. Identifying feedack from an expert that you ran out of time to implement or that was outside of the scope.

If possible, your next-step action items should be recorded as issues in GitHub. If you are not using GitHub for your project, you can include the action items in a more detailed way in your final project description.

Free Tool Fiesta#

"Free tool fiesta" is a chance to play the role of a law firm practice manager and act to select a product that fits your firms needs.

Feel free to start with an interesting tool and then work backwards to justify it for purposes of this assignment! In real life, you would have a need first and then work to find the right product.

Before getting started, please read:

In groups of 2 (or 3 if necessary) students will demonstrate a FREE or low cost tool they have identified that would be useful to small firms/solos. Be able to show off how it works and answer questions about its features and the costs associated with it.

Your deliverables will be:

  1. A brief written description of how you selected your tool.
  2. Answer the following questions:
    • In a summary sentence, what does this tool do?
    • How did you locate the tool?
    • What needs that a small firm has would this tool solve?
    • What needs do you think that this tool would NOT meet?
    • Who are this tool's main competitors?
    • Why would you select this tool over its competition?
  3. Prepare an interactive presentation or product demo to demonstrate the tool. You may highlight some specific features or present your answers to the questions above.

You may find the following websites a good resource for identifying free tools, but please expand your search!

App Teardown and Review#

The app "teardown" or review is your chance to put yourself back in the mind of a client or attorney.

Please turn in a 2-3 page review of an app following the guidelines below.

Be kind and provide constructive feedback. "Teardown" does not mean insult. Do your best to provide feedback that you think would help you improve if the project was your own work.

Picking an app to review#

Some collections of expert systems that I know:

info
  • Find an app that appears to be finished--i.e., probably not a student project, experiment, or demo.
  • Find an app that is long and polished enough to justify a 2-3 page review.

What to focus on in your review#

When reviewing the app, place yourself in the mind of a potential user with a real world need that the app is meeting.

Below is a list of prompts that your review should address. You may choose to answer these questions one at a time, or to give your review more holistically. Include an introduction that frames the app and a conclusion that summarizes your impressions.

  1. What is your overall impression of the app?
  2. What do you think the app's goal is?
  3. Who is its target audience?
  4. How well does the app communicate who it is for?
  5. How usable was the app? How complete?
  6. How important or useful were the features that the app included? What features were missing?
  7. How easily could you understand the substance of the app? I.e., the legal information and context it provided?
  8. How well or poorly did the app include an appropriate use of language, including tone, formality, and readability?
  9. How well did you think your goal would be met if you had to use this app?
  10. What mistakes do you think the author made?
  11. What steps would you have taken differently if you were the author?
  12. How did the app use elements of visual design?
  13. You have had a chance to explore various app platforms in this course. To what extent do you think that the author chose the right platform for this app? What limitations and features do you think came from the platform rather than the author's individual work?