Using student-centered design to create more engaging edtech: A SXSWedu Educator Workshop

March 11, 2019

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The very best software you use daily - on your mobile, the navigation system in your car, browsing movies on your TV - was developed using human-centered design.

At Macmillan Learning, we have been experimenting with and refining these techniques over the last two years to develop a next-generation or more effective and engaging digital experiences for students. We have learned that involving students from the very first steps and throughout the design process is fundamental to creating learning products that are empathetic, drive higher student engagement, and enable instructors to achieve better outcomes.

To share these techniques and findings with the education community, the User Experience (UX) team at Macmillan Learning hosted a workshop at SXSW EDU 2019. We were thrilled to have more than 140 participants from a wide variety of backgrounds in education attend the workshop.

During this hands-on workshop, we led participants through exercises designed to help them adopt a mindset of empathy for their students. Using the methods our UX team has developed, participants learned basic research skills while watching a variety of video recordings of interviews with students. The workshop participants then compared and contrasted insights from their observations in teams and began to craft statements to better define the problems these students faced. Using these, the participants then created testable storyboards of potential solutions - all in two hours!

The UX team then led the participants through the Student Archetypes that Macmillan Learning has developed from our research into student behaviors. The Archetypes were developed using the kind of extensive ethnographic research the participants had just learned, and was validated through surveying, at-scale analytics, and impact research. These profiles help the UX team to design products for and test against specific student characteristics. Here's a sneak preview of some of those findings.

Given the level of participation and engagement at the workshop, it's clear that many educators are hungry for techniques for engaging their students. We look forward to that ongoing partnership and discussion. Keep up with the latest developments of our work by checking out our website: macmillanlearning.com/learning-science.

Daniel Cole (Director, User Experience) and Aaron Houssian (Research Manager, User Experience)

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“Active learning enhances motivation, deepens retention, promotes transfer, and builds collaborative skills useful in work and life.” Dr. Chris Dede, Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Using student-centered design to create more engaging edtech: A SXSWedu Educator Workshop

At Macmillan Learning, we have been experimenting with and refining these techniques over the last two years to develop a next-generation or more effective and engaging digital experiences for students. We have learned that involving students from the very first steps and throughout the design process is fundamental to creating learning products that are empathetic, drive higher student engagement, and enable instructors to achieve better outcomes.

March 11, 2019

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