From teacher to ux…

31 Mar 21, Irene Tong

It has been three years since I made the decision to switch careers from teaching high school education to UX Design. Do I miss teaching? Yes. Do I miss being around year 7 kids who are taller than me? (I am 5’1) Not so much. Although I would not stray away from UX, I do find myself reminiscing over my teaching days. Luckily enough, I get moments to relive and transfer some of my teaching skills and knowledge back into UX through workshops.

I have facilitated and supported many workshops for projects and UX conferences since working at blueegg. Through my experiences, I have realised the similarities of facilitating a classroom of 30 students to a workshop of 30 participants. Here are 4 of the key similarities that I believe are important to consider when planning for a UX workshop:

1. Provide a solid introduction

To begin a lesson, I always start with an introduction. Students need to be directly told what they’ll be learning each day, what their learning objectives are and how the lesson will be relevant to them. This is no difference when it comes to UX and introducing the workshop to your participants. You will need to explain the project objectives, their purpose, and the value of their input and contribution. By doing these you gain alignment and have a collective goal.

2. Plan and conduct effective instruction

It is necessary to plan for instruction as you need to consider how your participants (of varying abilities) will receive, understand and engage with the tasks that have been set for your workshop. Note that instructions can come in different forms – so teachers and facilitators should not rely on one type of instruction. Like students, participants come with varying backgrounds, experiences and knowledge. Therefore, tailoring instructions will increase the support and chances for your participants to understand the set tasks.

3. Organise your “classroom” and materials

Similarly to organising a classroom and materials, you need to prepare your workshop environment and tools. Set up for a safe and collaborative environment by preparing the room, seating and allowing enough space for movement and activities. Question what tools your participants might need to engage with the tasks at hand and with others, but also consider how they can use these tools to express their opinions and thoughts freely.

4. Manage cooperative learning groups and foster collaboration

Workshops are extremely valuable as we get to work directly with targeted participants. To maximise contribution, you will need to set up and manage cooperative groups. Groups will allow you to receive multiple products as a result of the workshop but also enable a more intimate setting for discussion. The way you manage your groups to foster collaboration could include inquisitive questioning, prompting for discussion, time-boxing tasks and assigning roles, but also simply reassuring that there are no right or wrong answers and ultimately ensuring that their input has been heard.

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Irene Tong
UX Research Consultant
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