During the recent Sochi Olympic Games, Morning Edition listeners had the chance to hear a youth reporter interview a curling coach whose enthusiasm for the sport was infectious. I had thought of curling as an ironic passion for hipsters, but the ecstatic audio that the reporter captured was a pleasure to hear. It was dramatically different from the rest of the newscast. And it reminded me why youth-told and teen-produced stories are so vital: because they capture perspectives that are too often unheard in traditional media.
This spring I’ll be joining the board of directors at Youth Radio, the Oakland-based educational organization that has trained that reporter and many others. In addition to serving content as the National Public Radio youth desk, it provides important employment opportunities for young people. It partners with the MIT Media Lab and hosts a hands-on app creation lab. And it doesn’t just get ideas from adults: I’m especially excited that YR has a youth advisory board helping shape its future directions. Needless to say, I can’t wait to be involved.
As our Mozilla team prepares for SXSWEdu and the Digital Media & Learning conference next week, we’ve been deep in usability testing for BadgeKit. This software toolstack is intended to improve the issuing, visual design, and assessment of digital open badges. We’re focusing user testing on two core audiences:
Cities: Last year, the Chicago Summer of Learning was a city-wide experiment in recognizing learning that takes place during out-of-school months. It has ignited excitement across the country and from cities from New York to Dallas. Product lead Sunny Lee has more to say about the expansion of badge-able summer learning programs, and we’ll be hearing from cities more about their needs through live user testing in Boston next week.
Mozilla teams: This year we’re planning to support three types of “Mozilla-wide” badges: 1) organization-issued badges; 2) team/product badges (to directly recognize contributors across different Mozilla offerings, including Engagement and Webmaker); and 3) individual/community badges created by non-staff members to celebrate their collective efforts. I’m working with our badge system design lead Carla Casilli in thinking about templates and tools–including BadgeKit–for the #1 and #2 effots. This spring we may be doing a Mozilla roadshow of sorts, talking to product teams about what they’ve learned in trying to recognize their contributors and how badges might further that work. more
As my collaborator and mentor Steph Habif and I kick off the three night course “Know Your Humans: Designing Effective User Research” at the d.school this week, I wanted to share a list of favorite resources for researchers. Some of these helped usher me into the field and some are new (but quickly becoming beloved). My V1 of this list includes:
Research is a tool–a periscope offering you a better view of your surroundings. It can be very powerful if applied thoughtfully. Rather than piling on the costs, research can save you and the rest of your team a ton of time and effort.
In featuring this in the early pages of her book, Erika Hall had me nodding, highlighting, and bookmarking early into reading “Just Enough Research.” Hall, a Mule Design co-founder who shares design research musings as @mulegirl, joined a group of UX Book Club-goers at Mozilla’s SF offices this week. One of the topics that came up first was presentation: how we as researchers describe ourselves (“customer advocate” and “user developer” were amongst the suggestions) and our methods (including “fast insights testing”) to potential skeptics. more
Setting yourself up to design a delightful product or experience means starting with strong user research (you’ve heard me talk about this before). Health behavior designer Dr. Steph Habif and I will be teaching a class at the Stanford design institute (“d.school”) for three nights in February, and we’d love to have you involved. Come learn how to do research that effectively informs user experience in this fun, interactive pop-up class.
We’ll get you comfortable crafting questions, putting on observational and analytical hats, and asking how and why. You will practice how to see and understand users’ small daily choices–the ones that other people might miss–to be able to design with those users. Students who take this class will be able to identify highly motivated users, practice keen observation skills, and have more insight about how to meaningfully impact the people they are designing for.
We’re excited to open the course to students of all ages, including a guest participant from the Hasso-Plattner-Institute, a leader in design thinking in Germany. You can apply to take part here.
During the tail end of this year I’ve been working with the Open Badges team at Mozilla to prepare for BadgeKit, a software toolstack for badge issuing, assessment, and more. In undertaking product planning, we took a good amount of time to ask who might interact with these offerings and how. What you’ll see is a set of characteristics that extend beyond BadgeKit and, I think, speak to the diverse growth of the badges community and its players. (You can download a copy here.)
These profiles are based on conversations with community members (new and experienced alike) in spring and summer 2013; one-on-one interviews with educators, technologists, and observers of the space; and notes from participants of weekly research and badge system design calls. The latter have provided feedback on these profiles, and thanks to them badges skepticism is importantly included.more
I’m thrilled to have a new SF yoga teaching and practicing home base in the form of Be Yoga. I first got to know Be through their spaces on the Peninsula while trying to burn off nervous grad student energy. I loved the sense of local community they foster and am jazzed to watch it grow in the city.
The month-old space on Clipper and Sanchez Streets is a bright neighborhood studio–and a great place to wake up, should you find yourself doing sun salutations with me on Mondays at 6:30 AM. I also teach an intermediate level Vinyasa flow class on Wednesday nights at 6:15 PM if that’s more amenable to you. You can hear a sample of music you’ll be practicing to here. And check out all our teachers–we’ve got some powerful Forrest-style instruction!
In Noe, a minimalist aesthetic and having Pressed Juicery as a (nearby) neighbor have sold me. You can check out more images of the space taken by my fellow instructor Naemi, and I encourage you to come over for class. See you there soon, yogi and yogini pals.
After my teammates Jess Klein, Chloe Varelidi and I brainstormed on fun (hackable!) buttons to take with us to gatherings of Mozillians throughout the month of October, I was excited to see a colleague pick up a marker and write the above phrase on a three inch-wide piece of plastic.
Participants at Mozilla Summit and the more making-focused MozFest two weeks later were invited to pick their preferred fill-in-the-blank button. These aren’t “actual” Open Badges that have digital counterparts, though those were available at both gatherings. But they were part of a fun international experiment to see how individuals would edit these three lines: I mentor people for ______; I’m a _____ nin.ja (or expert); I’m a ____ n00b (or beginner/newbie). After the first round of white buttons were snatched up, we reprinted 1,000 more in neon colors. more
This past weekend contributors and staff working on the Mozilla project came together in Brussels, Toronto and Santa Clara to share where we’re headed. One of the best parts of this Summit for me has been getting to know the Mozilla User Experience team. (Those would be our cohorts on the Mozilla Corporation side of the house, which is a sister organization to the Foundation where I work. Go figure that it took traveling to Belgium to meet smart folks who sit one floor away in SF!)
Tony Santos hosted a session about soliciting and giving actionable feedback to designers. Together a small group of engineers, UX staff, and a communications director talked about our teams’ approaches to peer-based critique and the difference between that and feedback solicited from external stakeholders. We agreed that we can all be more open about our processes and clear in what we’re seeking (including reactions from community members even on quick timeframes).more
I remember my Dad teaching me at an early age how to use computers, mostly publishing programs, and how much I loved that time. The words you typed would instantly show up on the screen (!), and it was a neat excuse for us to learn about software together.
So it’s not surprising that I’m excited about what the team behind Design Duo has created in their new DIY kits for dads and daughters. I suppose that the hands-on boxes for making gadgets could be used by any youth-adult combo (or even youth-youth), and the potential this has for lighting young people up about hardware creation could be neat. This is one response to many middle school-age girls perceiving technology-related careers as lonely, and the Roominate building toy is another worth watching. Kudos to Kirti Patel and Laura Bruursema, Master’s students in Stanford’s Learning, Design & Technology program for designing the idea–let me know when the boxes can be sent as gifts for gals.