St. Mary's College

This tight-knit community is providing its students with a world-class education across several disciplines, including Systems Analysis & Design, with the help of Lucidchart.


SCHOOL: St. Mary's College
STUDENTS: 1,500+

DEPARTMENTAL GOALS: To foster developed quantitative skills, increased independent learning, and an aesthetic appreciation for mathematical thinking.

NEED: St. Mary’s is a women’s college that consistently ranks as one of the top liberal arts schools in the U.S. To challenge their students and maintain their academic rigor, the Mathematics and Computer Science department needed a go-anywhere diagramming tool suitable for group collaboration and complex diagram types.

SOLUTION: Free educational Lucidchart accounts for Dr. Broad’s Systems Analysis and Design students.

Challenge

In a small department with a limited budget, St. Mary’s Mathematics and Computer Science professors needed an affordable diagramming tool that would facilitate fluid collaboration between students and teachers. Steven Broad, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, began his search for a Visio alternative last spring. He said, “I had a positive feeling about Lucidchart, especially compared to the other collaboration tools I found. However, I could not take the risk of signing up without using it myself. This was a bit difficult, because I could not fully evaluate the collaborative functionality by myself.”

After some deliberation, Dr. Broad deciding that Lucidchart’s additional features were convincing enough to give it a try.

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.

Solution

Dr. Broad decided to sign up for a free educational account for hundreds of Systems Analysis and Design students. They ended up using the product nearly every day throughout the capstone course, since the class is teamwork-based and heavily focused on diagrams. Students worked regularly on entity relationship diagrams, data flow diagrams, unified modeling language (UML) class diagrams, and other complex diagram types.

Lucidchart needed to provide 3 key elements within the course:

First, Dr. Broad wanted an application with very specific functionality—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.

Second, each member of the class needed an accessible, intuitive collaboration solution, available in and out of the classroom. 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.

Finally, the course required a simple creation tool for user interface mockups and prototypes. Students could resort to pen and paper or a clunky downmarket tool, but these options have fewer options for the collaboration and sharing, crucial tasks in Dr. Broad’s classroom.

Results

Lucidchart proved to be a perfect fit for Dr. Broad’s capstone course. Students described the tool as “easy to use” and “self-explanatory.” The product’s robust features—tailored shape libraries, linking within the document itself, seamless real-time collaboration—handily solved the most pressing issues for both students and professor. Dr. Broad said,

Lucidchart has exceeded my expectations for all of the purposes that originally prompted me to select it. Very rarely have I had to help students resolve technical difficulties related to their diagramming with Lucidchart. This was a regular event in previous iterations of the course. 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.

Also, I don’t have to wait for the students to submit work to me. I can make comments on their work as they develop their design. This has resulted in more analysis and design iterations than the course usually permits, resulting in stronger student work.

Benefits

Our software is simple for students to learn and easy for professors to manage. Your students will love the ease of group projects with Lucidchart, and you’ll appreciate the classroom hours returned to you—no need to troubleshoot when you’d rather be teaching.

See for yourself why St. Mary’s and other top universities are making the switch to Lucidchart.