DO THIS! USER EXPERIENCE LEARNING ACTIVITIES: WHERE INSPIRATION, UX STRATEGY, AND ONLINE ENGAGEMENT MEET

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Brief Abstract

Engage in a walkthrough of inspirational activities called Do This! User Experience (UX) exercises used in the teaching of technology-related courses. Do This! is a concept and strategy that combines inspirational activity and practical application in simple ways to increase learners’ understanding of user experience contexts and to promote engagement.

Presenters

Laurie P. Dringus, Ph.D., is a Professor in the College of Computing and Engineering at Nova Southeastern University. Her research interests include human-computer interaction, information design, and usability. She has published widely several articles and presentations related to the research, design, development, and evaluation of online learning environments.

Extended Abstract

             Overview: The objective of the presentation is to share unique awareness-building learning exercises used in technology-related courses to facilitate learning and to engage learners in practical and simple learning exercises using a combined experience of action-oriented and critical thinking activities. These exercises, called “Do This! User Experience” activities are mainly online-based and asynchronous, but they are also successfully applied in blended, online synchronous, and campus formats.

             Conference Track and Alignment with Presentation/Session Goal: The presentation relates directly to conference track on Engaged and Effective Teaching and Learning.  The overarching goal of the session is to engage attendees in some of these practical Do This! exercises that have been useful in my process and to share the concept of Do This! so that attendees can derive their own exercises to fit their specific content or domain areas. The concept of Do This! is aimed threefold to: (1) support instructional strategies promoting engagement, (2) develop practices supporting engaging classroom climate, and (3) promote engaged participation and discussion. Do This! enables students to test the efficacy of technologies and their applications while synchronously working through concepts or learning objectives in a technology-related course.

            Some Background and Context about the Presenter’s Rationale for this Presentation: Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) is an interdisciplinary field that spans across the disciplines of computer and information sciences, the social sciences, education, and industrial design and psychology. The presenter has nearly 30 years devoted to teaching and research in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and User Experience (UX). I have taught campus, online and blended learning courses since 1982 and have extensive experience creating learning exercises for students that can be used in nearly any delivery modality. I am still learning new ways to deliver content in any modality! Each new semester, my journey begins with a new group of learners, with which I am eager to learn about what they perceive their user experience to be in the online, or blended, or campus course. Over the years, developing a user experience mindset (Johnson, 2014) has informed the development and assessment of many of my interaction strategies and interactive experiences with learners.  An overarching goal of teaching HCI/UX is to increase an awareness of “all things HCI”; focusing on foundational aspects of HCI and UX and technical and practical applications of the design and use of technology. Many of my students have technical knowledge and seek future careers in UX or software development, or instructional design. However, to build necessary skills and knowledge in designing usable interfaces and user experiences for others, most often their expertise or comfort level or familiarity they have with technology may be so automatic to them that they need inspirational and creative ways to help them to think, evaluate, analyze, discern, and cultivate a deeper understanding of the impacts of technology design on users and use. Learners need to be inspired so that they can inspire others!

            About Do This! Exercises and Examples: Courses I teach include rich content with effective blend of theory and practice. I give students brief exercises called “Do This!” to encourage them to use various technologies for learning and to encourage their self-awareness and reflection on technology use and usability and other course-specific topics. In one course, I created a Do This! Technology Test Kitchen, an online, asynchronous, and collaborative maker-space experience, where students and I developed use cases in the form of "recipes" for technology integration in online environments. (The idea for this online TTK was inspired by the OLC TTK!)

          Facilitating asynchronous online engagement approaches are important because most often graduate students are working professionals and their preferences vary for flexibility and different ways to learn content. Interactivity is a core priority in engaging students in online courses.  For example, in the Interaction Design course, I designed an online Do-It-Yourself Design Thinking Studio, where students develop visual user experience walkthroughs (and other interaction design artifacts). Do This! User Experience Journey Mapping: Sketch it, Video it, or Picture Frame it! helps students visualize important aspects of the user journey, i.e., the visual capture of a user working through an interface.  This is an exercise where the students produce a sequence of sketches, or a video, or pictures of any user, (themselves or another person), showing a walkthrough of how a user is working through an interface.

           There are many other Do This! exercises I use across the courses I teach. The concept of Do This! is to “sprinkle” exercises in courses and contextualize them to enhance a learning objective or an assignment, like a reading assignment or part of a project assignment. In some ways, the exercises are considered supplemental to assignments, but most often they help facilitate rich discussions. (Discussions lead to class participation points.) Below is a short list of various Do This! exercises:

  • Do This! User Experience: Establishing Boundaries
  • Do This! User Experience: Twitter Data Trail
  • Do This! User Experience: Instagram Influencers
  • Do This! User Experience:  Is Holoportation the future of social media?
  • Do This! User Experience:  Professional Digital Profile and Content Strategy
  • Do This! User Experience:  A Cooking Exercise of UX Test Strategy and Task List Construction
  • Do This! User Experience: What is the Role of Simplicity in Technology Design?
  • Do This! User Experience: Screen Shot Study: Simple Ways to Capture User Perceptions of their Own Habits and Preferences
  • Do This! User Experience:  Technology Test Kitchen
  • Do This! User Experience Design Thinking Studio: Journey Mapping: Sketch it, Video It, or Picture Frame it!

                 Presentation Interactivity and Takeaways: Attendees will engage in a walkthrough of inspirational activities called Do This! User Experience exercises used in the teaching of various technology-related courses. Do This! exercises combine inspirational activity and practical application in simple ways to increase learners’ understanding of user experience contexts and to promote engagement. The presenter will share many of these Do This! User Experience activities and engage the audience in a discussion about simple and effective exercises to engage students in learning activities that are interactive and challenging.  (Handouts and presentation slides will be available.) We will discuss modality since the concept of Do This! has been successfully applied across online, blended, and campus delivery formats. We will discuss what interactive ways do we steer or facilitate learners towards synchronizing engagement, action, and critical thinking.

References:

Johnson, J. (2014). Designing with the mind in mind. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.