The mathematics and computer science professors at Saint Mary’s were looking for a platform that would facilitate collaboration between students and teachers—but they were also on a budget. As Steven Broad, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, began his search for a Visio alternative, he discovered Lucidchart. He had positive feeling about the tool’s potential.
“I found Lucidchart to be pleasantly intuitive and lacking some of the constraints that a code generation diagramming tool sometimes includes...The ability to export directly to Google Drive was a nice feature from my point of view. Most importantly, my students would not be tied to college-owned computers or to the Windows operating system.”
Using Lucidchart daily
Steven decided to sign up for a free educational account to give his hundreds of systems analysis and design students access to Lucidchart. He and the students ended up using the product nearly every day throughout the capstone course, since the class is teamwork-based and heavily focused on diagrams. Students work regularly on entity relationship diagrams, data flow diagrams, unified modeling language (UML) class diagrams, and other complex diagram types. They can also easily build user interface mockups and prototypes.
Lucidchart provides the very specific functionality Steven and his students require—the kind needed for information systems diagramming, which is essential to system analysis and design. Information systems requires specific notation shapes and symbols, which many diagramming tools lack. Lucidchart's wide variety of shape libraries ensure students have the shapes they need to create professional diagrams.
Students can create these diagrams easily and quickly. The platform is accessible and intuitive, and Steven’s students describe it as “easy to use and self-explanatory.” He says he rarely has to help students resolve technical difficulties.
While students could resort to pen and paper or a clunky downmarket tool for their diagramming, these options seriously limit collaboration and sharing, crucial tasks in Steven’s course. Steven loves that Lucidchart is available in and out of the classroom for students and provides them with real-time collaboration Emailing diagrams back and forth comes with a set of troublesome issues, depending on a student’s web browser settings, operating system, and desktop software. Lucidchart allows students to collaborate in real time on single document—no back and forth required.
“The collaborative, web-based functionality has greatly reduced the amount of time that students spend embroiled in the logistics of versioning and distributing their diagrams to their team. No team has reported wasted time due to working on the wrong version of a diagram, which has been a regular problem in the past.”
In addition, Steven no longer has to wait for students to submit their work. He can make comments in the Lucidchart doc as they develop their design, which has resulted in more analysis and design iterations than the course usually permits and stronger student work.
Armed with Lucidchart, Steven and his students are creating more powerful diagrams and collaborating more than ever.