teaching young people about usability

17 Apr 2008 - 10:31am
5 years ago
11 replies
716 reads
Meredith Noble
2010

Has anyone ever run a program that teaches young people (say, grades 6-9
range, or older teens even) about usability?

I'm thinking about starting up a program that promotes technology
careers to girls. I want to help correct the common belief that "people
who work in technology sit alone all day in a cubicle and code". I'm
interested in using pair programming methods to show girls that
programming and software design can be social and collaborative. At the
same time I'm interested in exposing them to the concept of user
experience / usability / IxD, and showing that it's a great career for
people who want to be involved in technology but don't necessarily want
to code full time (or at all).

If anyone has ever tried to teach the basics of what we do to young
people, I'd really love to talk to you about how you approached it. I
did a quick Google search and didn't manage to come up with much!

Thanks,

Meredith

Comments

17 Apr 2008 - 10:39am
dszuc
2005

Also be interesting/cool to see what they could teach us :)

* What sites do they visit?
* How many friends do they speak to per day using the internet?
* Do they use their home phone for speaking to friends or mobile phone?
* What technology do they own?
* What do they like about it?
* What frustrates them about tech at home?
* What sites do they visit to help with home work?

etc

Perhaps see if they can design a UI for something? (see what they come up with
;)

rgds,
--
Daniel Szuc
Principal Usability Consultant
www.apogeehk.com
T: +852 2581 2166
F: +852 2833 2961
"Usability in Asia"

Quoting Meredith Noble <meredith at usabilitymatters.com>:

> Has anyone ever run a program that teaches young people (say, grades 6-9
> range, or older teens even) about usability?
>
> I'm thinking about starting up a program that promotes technology
> careers to girls. I want to help correct the common belief that "people
> who work in technology sit alone all day in a cubicle and code". I'm
> interested in using pair programming methods to show girls that
> programming and software design can be social and collaborative. At the
> same time I'm interested in exposing them to the concept of user
> experience / usability / IxD, and showing that it's a great career for
> people who want to be involved in technology but don't necessarily want
> to code full time (or at all).
>
> If anyone has ever tried to teach the basics of what we do to young
> people, I'd really love to talk to you about how you approached it. I
> did a quick Google search and didn't manage to come up with much!
>
> Thanks,
>
> Meredith
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

17 Apr 2008 - 4:16pm
Jeff Howard
2004

Hi Merideth,

CMU assistant professor Kristin Hughes ran a program called Click!
Urban Adventure: "an interactive role-playing game designed to
immerse middle school girls in discipline-specific science,
technology, engineering and mathematics activities."

You might look at it for some insights.
http://tinyurl.com/4uh283

// jeff

Merideth wrote:
> I'm thinking about starting up a program that promotes
> technology careers to girls.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28169

17 Apr 2008 - 5:27pm
merichar
2006

Hey merideth,
I have not actually done it, but before I had to leave my teaching job I
was working on a curriculum for this very purpose. I would be happy to
help you develop something.
--megan

17 Apr 2008 - 8:00pm
aleyda_km
2008

I'll be putting together material this Summer for a similar program
idea here in Miami, Fl. I'm looking to incorporate fun, hands-on
activities emphasizing usability and human factors concepts.

I'm considering the possible idea of presenting usability design
challenges using cell phones or digital cameras. These are objects
that this age group should (most likely) be very familiar with and
really into. You can have them define functionalities and they can be
creative here too, propose designs and then discuss them as a whole
and see what comes up. You can maybe also draft scenarios and use
them to evaluate the designs they've come up with allowing you to
address specific concepts for discussion. I have another idea on
presenting the usability testing (user experience), which you can
show using a program like Morae.

Here are some sites with this subject in mind, hope this helps:
http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/kiddesign/
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/children.html
http://www.stcsig.org/usability/newsletter/0410-phonegames-minifizz.html

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28169

17 Apr 2008 - 11:21pm
Gavin Burke
2008

While its definitely anecdotal, I read in the paper recently that
schools in Ireland had to ban phones entirely because while the kids
were
pretending to pay attention in class, they were in actual fact speed
sending each other text messages, all the time keeping the mobile phones
out of sight in their pockets!

On 17 Apr 2008, at 16:39, Daniel Szuc wrote:

> Also be interesting/cool to see what they could teach us :)
>
> * What sites do they visit?
> * How many friends do they speak to per day using the internet?
> * Do they use their home phone for speaking to friends or mobile
> phone?
> * What technology do they own?
> * What do they like about it?
> * What frustrates them about tech at home?
> * What sites do they visit to help with home work?
>
> etc
>
> Perhaps see if they can design a UI for something? (see what they
> come up with
> ;)
>

Best regards,

Gavin Burke

http://www.futureaudioworkshop.com

20 Apr 2008 - 7:22am
Anonymous

Interestingly enough I was just reading a report I was sent yesterday:

Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020
http://research.microsoft.com/hci2020/download.html
which makes various recommendations, including number 4 which is
summarised in the reader%u2019s guide as:

"Teach HCI to the young.
The report argues that changes in computers and computing have a
significant impact on all our lives. Consequently, the study of HCI
should be introduced to the young as soon as possible. This goes
beyond traditional educational concepts of %u2018computer
science%u2019 %u2013 not just teaching children about how computers
and applications work, but about their wider impact."

-so sorry, it's not really helpful to you, Meredith, but I was just
excited to see that people are already on it and thought it might be
of interest and encouragement!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28169

21 Apr 2008 - 9:04am
Meredith Noble
2010

Thanks so much for this, Elizabeth! It is indeed very encouraging :)

Thanks to everyone else for their notes of interest and pointers to
resources as well. It's clear that a lot of people are passionate about
teaching the young about technology. I promise to get back to people
individually (it might take a few days as I'm suddenly a bit swamped),
but in the long term I will definitely keep the list updated about my
project. I'm very excited about what the possibilities are!

Meredith

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Elizabeth
> Sent: Sunday, April 20, 2008 4:15 PM
> To: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] teaching young people about usability
>
> Interestingly enough I was just reading a report I was sent yesterday:
>
> Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020
> http://research.microsoft.com/hci2020/download.html
> which makes various recommendations, including number 4 which is
> summarised in the reader%u2019s guide as:
>
> "Teach HCI to the young.
> The report argues that changes in computers and computing have a
> significant impact on all our lives. Consequently, the study of HCI
> should be introduced to the young as soon as possible. This goes
> beyond traditional educational concepts of %u2018computer
> science%u2019 %u2013 not just teaching children about how computers
> and applications work, but about their wider impact."
>
> -so sorry, it's not really helpful to you, Meredith, but I was just
> excited to see that people are already on it and thought it might be
> of interest and encouragement!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28169
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Apr 2008 - 10:34am
Chauncey Wilson
2007

In teaching HCI to the young, it is important to highlight good
designu as well as teach people how to find design and usability
problems. I've seen some sessions where children are asked to
critique or evaluate systems which is fine, but there is often a lack
of discussion about what "good design" is. Actually the same is true
of our interaction with people outside the field. We can show what
bad design is, but examples of good design are harder to come by.
Exercises where people redesign something to eliminate problems would
seem to be critical so in ideas about exercises, consider a cycling
through evaluation, design, review several times. As a field we love
to find fault, but finding what is good with a product or service is a
bit harder. A question that I like to ask designers and usability
colleagues is "What artifacts (online or real) have inspired your
work?". People could give many answers, but I am often presented with
a long pause and an interviewee struggling to think of examples of
good design.

Chauncey

On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 8:22 AM, Elizabeth wrote:
> Interestingly enough I was just reading a report I was sent yesterday:
>
> Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020
> http://research.microsoft.com/hci2020/download.html
> which makes various recommendations, including number 4 which is
> summarised in the reader%u2019s guide as:
>
> "Teach HCI to the young.
> The report argues that changes in computers and computing have a
> significant impact on all our lives. Consequently, the study of HCI
> should be introduced to the young as soon as possible. This goes
> beyond traditional educational concepts of %u2018computer
> science%u2019 %u2013 not just teaching children about how computers
> and applications work, but about their wider impact."
>
> -so sorry, it's not really helpful to you, Meredith, but I was just
> excited to see that people are already on it and thought it might be
> of interest and encouragement!
>
>
> . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Posted from the new ixda.org
> http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28169
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
>
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Apr 2008 - 1:16pm
Meredith Noble
2010

Thanks for this, Chauncey. I am probably one of those people who would
struggle when asked the question you mention, but I've been trying to
keep it front of mind for the past little while. (I believe you wrote on
the subject in another thread not long ago and it hit home.)

It's particularly relevant in terms of teaching the kids though, you're
absolutely right. The ideal activity does seem to be a) "let's come up
with some things that don't work well in this example" and b) "can you
design something that fixes those problems?"

You mention that you've seen sessions where kids are asked to critique
systems -- where was this? Was it part of a program of some kind or
something more informal? How old were the kids, out of curiosity?

Meredith

> -----Original Message-----
> From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com [mailto:discuss-
> bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Chauncey Wilson
> Sent: Monday, April 21, 2008 1:30 PM
> To: Elizabeth
> Cc: discuss at ixda.org
> Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] teaching young people about usability
>
> In teaching HCI to the young, it is important to highlight good
> designu as well as teach people how to find design and usability
> problems. I've seen some sessions where children are asked to
> critique or evaluate systems which is fine, but there is often a lack
> of discussion about what "good design" is. Actually the same is true
> of our interaction with people outside the field. We can show what
> bad design is, but examples of good design are harder to come by.
> Exercises where people redesign something to eliminate problems would
> seem to be critical so in ideas about exercises, consider a cycling
> through evaluation, design, review several times. As a field we love
> to find fault, but finding what is good with a product or service is a
> bit harder. A question that I like to ask designers and usability
> colleagues is "What artifacts (online or real) have inspired your
> work?". People could give many answers, but I am often presented with
> a long pause and an interviewee struggling to think of examples of
> good design.
>
> Chauncey
>
> On Sun, Apr 20, 2008 at 8:22 AM, Elizabeth
wrote:
> > Interestingly enough I was just reading a report I was sent
yesterday:
> >
> > Being Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020
> > http://research.microsoft.com/hci2020/download.html
> > which makes various recommendations, including number 4 which is
> > summarised in the reader%u2019s guide as:
> >
> > "Teach HCI to the young.
> > The report argues that changes in computers and computing have a
> > significant impact on all our lives. Consequently, the study of HCI
> > should be introduced to the young as soon as possible. This goes
> > beyond traditional educational concepts of %u2018computer
> > science%u2019 %u2013 not just teaching children about how computers
> > and applications work, but about their wider impact."
> >
> > -so sorry, it's not really helpful to you, Meredith, but I was just
> > excited to see that people are already on it and thought it might be
> > of interest and encouragement!
> >
> >
> > . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> > Posted from the new ixda.org
> > http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28169
> >
> >
> > ________________________________________________________________
> >
> > Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> > To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> > Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> > List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> > List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help
>

21 Apr 2008 - 2:38pm
Tori Breitling
2007

Tangential, but perhaps of interest...
An article about The Laptop Club, wherein children draw laptops.
http://www.themorningnews.org/archives/galleries/the_laptop_club/02tlc.php

Tori

22 Apr 2008 - 3:45pm
Susie Robson
2004

I work with parents who exchange text messages with their kids while the
kids are in class at school. I was in a meeting where one person was
receiving and sending texts to her daughter. Her daughter was in class
but was bored. My co-worker was also obviously bored. Especially as she
told us what her daughter was texting and what she was texting back. It
definitely derailed the meeting. She even claims that at home, she'll
text her daughter to come downstairs for dinner.

Susie

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Gavin Burke
Sent: Friday, April 18, 2008 12:22 AM
To: discuss at ixda.org
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] teaching young people about usability

While its definitely anecdotal, I read in the paper recently that
schools in Ireland had to ban phones entirely because while the kids
were
pretending to pay attention in class, they were in actual fact speed
sending each other text messages, all the time keeping the mobile phones
out of sight in their pockets!

On 17 Apr 2008, at 16:39, Daniel Szuc wrote:

> Also be interesting/cool to see what they could teach us :)
>
> * What sites do they visit?
> * How many friends do they speak to per day using the internet?
> * Do they use their home phone for speaking to friends or mobile
> phone?
> * What technology do they own?
> * What do they like about it?
> * What frustrates them about tech at home?
> * What sites do they visit to help with home work?
>
> etc
>
> Perhaps see if they can design a UI for something? (see what they
> come up with
> ;)
>

Best regards,

Gavin Burke

http://www.futureaudioworkshop.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
Unsubscribe ................ http://www.ixda.org/unsubscribe
List Guidelines ............ http://www.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://www.ixda.org/help

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