Between January and March 2018, the University of Reading had asked me to help shape, teach, and assess an eight week design module for 40 first year students. The Typography & Graphic Communication department wanted to expose students to user-centred digital design, with guidance from an industry professional 🙋
Working closely with James Lloyd, a design lecturer at the University, we put together a module which introduced students to design for responsive web, with a clear focus on establishing a user-focused design process.
Scoping the Module
In order to define the module structure, we needed to understand and outline what we wanted students to learn from this.
Below shows initial mapping of what we wanted students to achieve from this module. This was split into theory (green), practice (orange), and general considerations (pink).
Structuring the Module
Once we had a good understanding of what students should be learning, we started ideating around potential project ideas. Modules in previous years revolved around redesigning existing local websites. I did some research on Berkshire based sites which could do with some love and care, and came across The Museum of Berkshire Aviation website. This was a good candidate for students to get their teeth into and dissect – and at the time it wasn't even responsive!
Regarding timeframes, the schedule was every Tuesday for eight weeks. As we knew the amount of time we had to play with, we got together to map out a logical and coherent structure. This was essentially an elongated version of a five day design sprint.
Writing the Brief
Once we had a more solid structure in place, it was time to write both the brief and task specific worksheets for the students. We had split the module into three parts, weighted as follows:
• The redesign of The Museum of Berkshire Aviation website (65% of overall mark)
• A group presentation around a given topic linked to UX design (25% of overall mark)
• An in-class HTML/CSS task (10% of overall mark)
The module consisted of a mixture of theoretical and practical considerations, with particular focus on the design sprint process. The first few weeks were more theory based, therefore James and I were doing lots of presentations and encouraging large group discussions.
As the module progressed and students delved into hands-on designing, we began to flex our supporting and critiquing skills.
What I Learnt
Lecturing at the University of Reading taught me:
• How to craft and form an assessable curriculum which focused on both theoretical and practical elements of UX design
• Techniques around how to make students feel comfortable and confident designing for responsive web
• Various presentation skills for both large and small audiences
• How to support those more junior than myself
• How to constructively critique and assess work