A special thank you for making teaching so rewarding
In the beginning of 2016, after 17 years of working as a professional designer, I was finally given the opportunity to teach a workshop at EDIT. I had given classes before (more details here), but this would be the first time giving classes related to my professional work in design.
The Workshop I was asked to give was on UX Foundations, because the previous tutor was no longer available and I had just been recommended by someone they trusted, João Vitória(Big thanks to him for that).
Needless to say, I was petrified. I had been working in a single company for 14 years. I wasn’t sure whether I was up to date with the “outside” world.
The academy head at the time Alexandre Santos gave me full freedom to put together the workshop I felt was most appropriate. This would be a 16h full weekend workshop and I had to basically introduce people to what UX is and how they could benefit from learning more.
The UX Foundations workshop
I decided to structure the workshop very similar to the work process I was using at the time:
- Strategy and Planning
- Research and Analysis
- Design and Organization
- Implementation and Iteration
The workshop would be 20–30% theory and the rest would would be completely practical. I also asked that we have a supply of post-its, paper, pens, scissors, and tape. Computers would be used solely for research or for creating spreadsheets.
None of the usual design programs would be used. I wanted participants to get comfortable with the definition of the problem and the ideation of a solution. Pen to paper and group exercises. To shake things up further, I would give them exercises based on problems in the physical as well as digital realms.
Arriving on the day, I was curious to see who would participate in the workshop. I had been sent their CVs a week before and was curious to meet them in person.
In every single workshop or talk I give, I always have some kind of ice-breaker activity. With this workshop, I decided on something simple… “Each person, stand up, tell us who you are and your motivations for attending the workshop”. Me, personally, I don’t like this part of workshops, so I added something, as each participant completed their introduction, I would ask them to com stand in the front, but I would divide them into groups.
As participants understood they would all stay standing, they became more comfortable. At the end, I explained how I had divided them into groups according to their motivations for attending the workshop and how that was one of the most important objectives of UX… understanding the user’s motivations and needs. I received a few nods of agreement and at least felt like I’d gotten their attention.
The rest of the workshop went really well and the participants were highly active and very curious about everything. I also used the exercises they did in group to teach them rather than just spout out the theory and expect them to reproduce. (If you’re interested in hearing more about what I mean, contact me. I’d be glad to share)
One of the great things about most academies is that they give the students the opportunity to rate their tutors. This means that the student can give their opinion and the tutors can understand how to improve.
This feedback also give the academies the information they need to decide whether to call back the tutor again or have another edition of the workshop.
I did not want to open the email with feedback… I know how people can be great during an activity and then give you a terrible rating and criticize everything. Luckily the feedback was positive and I was told that it made sense for me to come back for another edition.
Evolution of the workshop
Since the first edition I’ve given the workshop another 4 times and every-time I’m faced with new challenges and have evolved the workshop to reflect that. The feedback has always been positive, so I keep getting invited back.
The workshop, like any work a UXers does has gone through 4 iterations and I’ll be looking at how to evolve the workshop for the next edition.
In the first half of 2017, I was also asked to give classes in the Webdesign and Development course at @worldacademypt. I would give the UX/UI module. This being the first time this course would be given, the module was a bit short on time.
Despite the limited time, I decided to focus on the fundamentals and create the module around 1 project so that they could treat it similar to a real world project and evolve it until the last hand-in.
I still got to meet a great group of students who created some great stuff in my module.
Once again I was invited to give the same module this year, but the module had more hours added to it, so that was a bonus and I was able to ask more of them.
The Big thank you I’ve been building up too
The whole reason for this post is to show my gratitude for being given the opportunity to teach these classes and for the incredibles students I’ve met along the way.
Some of those students have become colleagues since then, I’ve seen the evolution of many of those students and their careers.
Most recently my first class at World Academy had a diploma ceremony. I was honored to hand the students their diplomas and the thanks I received were priceless and heartfelt.
My most recent reward was from this year’s World Academy students. Since they had more time in my module, I asked them to go a little further and hand in a final presentation of their project. What I needed to se was their research and how they reached their decisions.
I was completely overwhelmed by the level of work they handed in. In every single case, I could see their thoughts behind their decisions and how deeply they analyzed the solution. They really thought about what they were building and I believe with a few tweeks, they could easily present much of that work to real clients.
Still more to come
I’m also currently giving classes in the UX/UI course at Edit with my colleague Mônica Dioconde and so far we’re seeing some great results and I expect even more rewards from that end. Will update this post when appropriate.
I think I’ve said it all, but despite the hard work and extra hours one has to put in, teaching has been an incredible experience.
I feel privileged to be able to share some of my knowledge and hopefully help grow the UX community and the level of professionals out there.
Seriously, thank you to all for letting me be your teacher.