In my class, you surf alone and get feedback together

A note on the vibes of my 2024 UX class

In my class, you surf alone and get feedback together

Every year, I try to refine the intentions of the 6 month UX certificate I teach. This experience has been incredibly educational for me in understanding how people extract information from what is presented to them. My intentions as an instructor can be interpreted in a plethora of ways that are outside my control. To ensure that learners are getting the most value out of the classroom, I try to kick off the class with a vibe-check. Something that isn’t about the material directly, but is rather about the spirit of the subject and the act of learning.

This year, I wrote a longer than usual vibe check, inspired partly by a weirder than ever job market, and an increasingly noisy information landscape. I’m sharing it below both for posterity and in case anyone feels inspired to chime in with feedback or ideas.

Hello class,

Tomorrow is the big day—woohoo 🥳. I wanted to make sure we get started feeling prepared and ready so below is a checklist of what you have before we connect on Zoom tomorrow at 1pm.

[Checklist redacted to spare you technical details]

UX as a domain is heavily dependent on your ability to learn on your own and think critically during moments of high uncertainty. You must be prepared for a lot of self-reliance when it comes to understanding the tools and completing the asynchronous work.

You will also notice that there is not a lot of traditional "homework" or "assignments". All the asynchronous activities are intended for you to further your discussion in the class, and progress on the project of each module.

Finally the pace of the class is unrelenting and there is a vast diversity of subjects discussed. I will be there to support your learning and challenge your assumptions. I will happily make reasonable accommodations where necessary to ensure that you are progressing at a level you can be proud of. However, I also expect you to own your journey and engage in a healthy dose of introspection. This means:

  • You may be told to do your own research for questions about tool functions.
    • Example
    • “How do I change the color of a shape in Figma?"
    • “Check out the Figma documentation and try it. The app won't explode if you get it wrong 😉"
  • Your questions will be answered with more questions for grey areas.
    • Example
      • “Should we include analytics in this app? We want to be mindful of users' privacy while still getting high quality metrics."
      • “Great instinct. What do you think is appropriate given the age group of the users? Have you considered looking into privacy-focused analytics tools? What are their limitations?… Let's discuss when you've done more digging!"
  • Your relationship with technology needs to have a healthy balance of fascination and skepticism.
    • In a previous class, I've had students who would give up on using the tools because they "hated technology" (their words, not mine). I will come out and say that this is a ridiculous attitude to have in a class that is fundamentally about shaping technology to suit human behaviour.
    • It is perfectly acceptable to hate what technology has been used for in a variety of contexts. For example, manipulating our emotions on social media, using AI for generating misinformation, creating systems that oppress workers' rights like with Uber, etc.
    • However, if at some level you don't find it wonderful that a simple email allows us to connect with a friend on the other side of the world, or feel delight at a smooth interaction, then this field might simply not be for you—or at the very least I may not be a suitable instructor for you.
    • Being critical of technology is welcome and necessary to becoming a great UX designer. Being resentful of it and reluctant to adapt will just make this course painful and confusing.

Phew… I hope that clarifies some things. We'll be having lots of candid conversations in the class and we will learn to adapt to each other as we progress. It's gonna be exhausting and exciting all at once.

Looking forward to meeting you all!

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