UI/UX hiring managers are noticing specific trends among new and novice designers who are applying for jobs. Specifically, they are seeing a lack of concrete design skills, communication and collaboration skills, and technical understandings of the role of UI/UX in full-stack development. These new and novice designers are also reporting gaps in the available training afforded to them as well as a lack of support with the transition from training and internship into full-time industry work. The CEO of UX Atlanta has decided to form an educational institution to provide workshops and immersive experiences to train UI/UX practitioners while addressing these noticeable gaps. By creating a new educational program from the ground up, and by pairing the educational branch with staffing and consulting branches within the UX Atlanta organization, the institution seeks to offer a more complete and authentic educational experience while also providing greater support in the transition from learner to practitioner.
We started the design process by conducting and analyzing user research. Specifically, we worked with hiring managers, UI/UX students, and young professionals in the field to identify pain points and gaps in the existing educational offerings. We also analyzed competitor UI/UX programs to learn more about what and how they teach. With this data in mind, we began high level planning. We established desired outcomes for our students across multiple competencies and domains. We explored different learning theories and pedagogical practices to choose an approach for our content, ultimately landing on a constructivist approach with an emphasis on authentic and situated learning tasks. Social cognitive theory is informing our methods for teaching group communication and collaboration skills, and connectivism is also playing a role in the design of our learning tasks and assessments. The curriculum has been mapped, performance tasks chosen, and pacing is established. Daily instructional interventions have yet to be designed. We also had to think about how the organization would run as a system, so that meant designing the daily and weekly schedule, establishing protocols and procedures for the institution, and creating processes for enrollment and record-keeping. All of these designs were used to seek our GNPEC (Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission) accreditation, which we received in May 2022.
This curriculum is still under active development. Right now, the institutional procedures have been established in accordance with GNPEC’s oversight expectations and legal requirements. The learning objectives, performance tasks, and lesson topics have all been selected and mapped into the 12-week program. At this stage, we still need to create daily slide decks, instructor’s resources, and student handouts. Once our pilot group of students enrolls and completes the program, we’ll be able to evaluate the success and iterate as we move forward. I have learned so much about instructional design by working with the UX Atlanta team. This project continues to be one of the largest and most complex tasks I've worked on yet. As an instructional designer, I come from a design-oriented field. Seeing how an adjacent field approaches their design tasks has been enlightening both because it highlights the similarities our fields have and has given me new models and tools to use when approaching tasks. Similar to ID, UI/UX places a heavy emphasis on conducting research and using data to guide and justify design decisions. UI/UX's design thinking approach, their frequent use of personas and user stories, and models like "AGILE" and the "Double Diamond" have given me new perspectives on how the entire design process can unfold and iterate as a project evolves. This has also been a very corporate/business-situated assignment which has given me the opportunity to work in an environment that is completely different from the more familiar K12 and traditional higher education contexts.