I found this ‘course workload estimator’ at Rice University Center for Teaching Excellence. I plugged some very rough guesses in and it spit out the information captured in the image below.
I am planning on filling this out in class on our first day as a way to help incoming first-years come to terms with the time requirements for our course. I think many of my students suffer a failure of the imagination as they try to figure out what it means to “take” a college course. I figure that I can give them concrete information that will help them ‘imagine forth’ what is required of them. This a group discussion well worth having on the first day. I will ask them first how much time they think they might spend in a composition class. After that I will show them the tool and the data I will be plugging in. (A good place to point to the syllabus as a valuable tool.) Lastly, I will ask them to think about the workload requirements of their other classes. Fiendish, yes. Eye-opening, I trust so.
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.
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.
Conversation, Sitting on a Porch Swing, Drinking Coffee, Waiting
the ticksnap detach of the elm leaves,
they speak loudest.
a detachment of geese
gibbering to each other, “OutOutOut”.
the sunflower seeds in the feeder.
(We would’ve thought the greedy goldfinches
would’ve been first, but no.)
chickens rustling through
the fallen leaves
for…we know not what
nor do they till they find it.
the faint thrum of the interstate
getting stronger as the trees
take their leaves.
high, fast cirrus above
and clover and orchard grass
time to grovel for
sweet taters and peanuts
to roast and toast
and all the Milky Way.
the sugar bush–a whisper of
‘maybe this year we will rise’.
time for the house plants to get
their night cover
and for the rain lily to come inside
And the last rose of summer,
our folk diva, sings.
we are waiting
but the gingko hasn’t budged a single inch off green
toward caution yellow.
we look at each other
our eyes asking–
we are waiting?
we are awaiting.