Pilot - U4L02 - Understanding Your User



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Dan and Cecilia:
At the pilot launch we ran this lesson through “Responding to Products.” We chose to use the warm-up activity as an energizer, participants moved to corners that were labeled A,B,C,D. We heard from students who chose different products even though they were playing the same part; we felt this helped to add to the empathy that this lesson is trying to create in our students. While one presenter encouraged students to be really creative with their back stories, others saw drawbacks to allowing that to happen, this probably comes down to your own personal teaching style and the age group you are catering to.
We grouped the students together by user, when we presented the slides we gave them one minute to respond silently before coming to consensus as a table. We felt that worked well and helped keep students accountable and tuned in to the activity.
We got so caught up in the activity in retrospect we realized it would have been even better if we had framed our questions around usability and aesthetics.
The provided slides worked well, if you add any of your own, you should probably make sure there is still “grey area” for each product.


@danial_nijhout_rowe and @czavestoski - want to expand on the benefits and possible drawbacks you saw with letting your students create back stories?


I was actively encouraging the immersive, creative behavior. I understand that with younger middle schoolers in particular you run the risk of that becoming the focus instead of the lesson itself; however I think that you can reign it in before that happens.
I enjoy it when students are able to display their creative side and become that engaged in the lesson; also there is the added benefit that perhaps one of those students just had a bad experience in another class, or got a bad grade on a math test, etc… but now they have a chance to shine in your class.


If the students are trying to understand the user and can add ideas/thoughts, based on what they know, that would be valuable. When designing, the designer doesn’t always have the opportunity to ask questions of the user and will need to figure out or assume some things. For example, one of the users was outdoorsy and to think they might like something a little more rustic would make sense. I agree with Daniel to let them add the creativity, but stay aware so the focus of the lesson doesn’t change. The teacher could ask a question like “Why do you think your user would want that or like that.” to keep them focused.