I stumbled over these handy user experience maps this morning and thought about how useful they might be in my teaching, learning, and research.
Empathy maps: designed to help folk understand the mind of the user.
I could use this at the end of the semester to understand how my students navigated the semester-long research paper we write. I have no idea how my “users” experience the most time-consuming and constraining activity in the course. This could help.
Customer journey maps: describes the path a user takes in adopting a particular product or service.
My department could use this in exploring how our students adopt the English major and how that journey works from inside the student. I suspect that the journey we lay out for them and the one they actually follow are quite different, complementary but different. We just revised our curriculum. This might be a qualitative way to evaluate whether the path we are requiring is one that those who are taking it signed up for.
Service blueprints: much like the customer journey maps, these apply to teachers/employees. These maps help to uncover the how and where we ‘touch’ our learners/customers. They would work in conjunction with the customer journey maps.
We could use these with new teachers to help map out where they see these ‘touchpoints’ and compare those maps with what the department sees as the touchpoints. I think these maps might be fleshed out using tools like Dave Snowden’s Cynefin Framework/SenseMaker techonology.
Experience maps: these take customer-journey maps and apply them across user types and user products. You use these maps to make generalizations about user experience. In this image, the experience mapped is “pregnancy”.
Since the purpose of these maps is to understand a general human behavior, I might use them to explain the arc of a course and the learning behaviors it might generate in students. The follow up would be whether those behaviors were actually generated in the users. This map is quite a bit fuzzier and more abstract than the others, so perhaps it might be used in planning or revising a course syllabus and then making readjustments on the fly to the course as required. Used in conjunction with empathy maps?
Maps like these are often guilty of the sin of ‘making complexity legible’. Or as James C. Scott says, they destroy the “metis”, the local knowledge, or at the least they valorize this legibilizing over local, folk knowledge and concepts. Entering with an awareness of this bias, I think that what could be revealed would allow teachers and admins insights that might lead to a ‘re-messification’ of the various ‘fields of users’. We could make our blind spots legible with the end goal being to make the relationships more natural, more like what we find in the margins of fields. Rich. Diverse. Messy. Convergent and divergent.
That is the idea I took from this foray into UX. Anybody need a really interesting research project that might be turned into a consulting business? Maybe this is it. There is a UX conference in Washington, D.C. in April. If I can find $5000 I might go. A big investment, but maybe a worthy career move.