UX in the classroom

good-ux-designImage: Flight Media

UX = User Experience and we need to pay attention to it in a classroom. John Knight’s article Can Anyone Do UX? raises so many pertinent issues with regard to UX in contemporary times but he has a level of awareness about what that means and the way forward for his industry. Adaptability is increasingly becoming essential as is cross disciplinary work and learning from each other. He is discussing how UX design can appear to have lost its way and its standards because technology is ubiquitous and people are growing up with an inherent knowledge of UX simply because they are always on their phones, tablets and laptops:

“Guess what? the new generation has imbibed the principles of good design and HCI from the products and services they use on a day to day basis so that its second nature. Today, we live in a world of democratized design that exists outside of the traditional education system and is seen in everything from the start up scene to some of today’s great entrepreneurs. We can either go with the flow or try to stop it by developing professional standards”

Our professional standards have to be there but they need to be fluid and flexible because we are at a point in classroom delivery where the walls are coming down, the opportunities for global and 24/7 interaction abound and our capacity to peer review, share and care has increased exponentially. We then have to look at whom we are teaching and consider their experience. It is not one experience for everyone . HCI (Human Computer Interaction) is something we need to consider as well, both from the point of view of an individual’s approach to a device, and from the point of view that we can interact with each other online. This is where professional standards need to be able to manage and bend to meet the growing need to connect but to keep school based personnel and students safe.Fortunately ACARA and aitsl seem to be on the ball with this and other key fundamentals with regard to UX.

John Knight makes some interesting recommendations as to how  the UX industry can address the pressing needs it has with the technology changes which are flowing fast into our lives. I’d like to take those recommendations and apply them to education (read education where he writes design):

“1.Back to basics on the empirical basis of design through research. Unlike our predecessors though, we have a broader set of inputs and tools that just design research.

2.Continuous evolution of professional standards including core competencies and role descriptions that link back to capability initiatives such as SFIA and drive excellence.

3.Repositioning of deliverables from manifestation of requirements to findings of ‘design experiments’ ranging from ‘Critical Design’ to prototypes at differing levels of fidelity.

4.Recognition of the craft element of our discipline; including building awareness of nuance, the craft of making and refining atomic level experience elements.

5.Support for the maturation of the domain, including ui elements that have reached the level of archetype, patterns and methods and that can be added to the body of knowledge and then used freely outside of the profession — so that we can focus on innovation.”

UI = User Interface – what you are looking at when you see a screen and how it operates with buttons/clicks/swipes etc. In that respect I think it’s a good idea to now create some tried and true ways of operating in a classroom with technology and looking at the sorts of interfaces which suit classroom use for tablets, IWB and laptops. We can also probably now come to some agreement, based on considerable experience as to which sites and apps are worthwhile and desirable in a classroom.

So, remember the tips from the Flight Media blog as you operate in your classroom:

1. Empower the user – and that means you and the students

2. Bring clarity through UX design – to your lessons, to your resources, to your plans

3. Ask for and listen to feedback

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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