Learning User Experience Design

Despite seeing suggestions to not call people “users” in UX, user experience design affects everyone, whether they work in technology at a high level or use technology from systems to someone just using their phone.

Google’s Abigail Posner says, “When we use the word ‘user’ it implies just when that person is using that device. The device is the story; the user is just the person who uses it. So if we take away that word and think about the human being then the kind of research that we would use would be much broader, much deeper, and therefore really allow us to understand the human being who uses that technology or uses that software.”

Gizmodo lists the Degrees of the Future 2022 top UX Design programs at universities. But is the Google UX Design Certificate worthwhile?

It is a low-cost design certificate and worth considering if you are new to the user experience (UX) design field or job market. It costs students less than $200 from start to finish.

Can you compete with someone that has a degree with a certificate? You will clearly have competition applying for entry-level UX design jobs. It would be advisable to try for some freelance design work or do volunteer work for non-profits while completing the certificate to build up your resume and give you samples of your skills.

Immersive Training in VR

What industry calls “Learning and Development” is using more immersive training approaches. VR allows some new possibilities that can change pre-existing training assumptions and learning experiences.

I saw that Inna Link posted something about VR training scripting for immersive training. Instructional design strategies are key to script writing for training. The three elements she found important to an effective immersive experience are the environment, the learner’s sense of self-awareness, and social presence.

VR script-writing is similar to – but not the same as – movie scriptwriting but both are creative and detailed processes.

Environment means being able to answer questions such as: How many different scenes should there be?
What objects will the learner see? What sounds will the learner hear? What objects will be hidden for potential discovery? What data will be collected and how will the data be linked to skills targets within experience interactions?

For self-awareness, we need to know how much knowledge/skill the learners possess at the beginning (prior knowledge) of the experience vs at the end. Then we can select activities to facilitate the intended knowledge/skills, and the feedback needed.

As you read these things, you might think (as I did) that these are the questions and concerns that I have in any learning design. What makes immersive learning different?

Social presence is probably the area that answers that question most relevantly. She writes, “While the learner is placed at the center of the experience, they aren’t the only relevant agent within their virtual world. To develop successful VR training, the learner must move through a realistic environment in a similar fashion as they would on the job.”

A VR script should focus on things like roles that are relevant to the job, characters that need to be constructed and inserted into the narrative, and the dialogue and interactions that should be created to support the learning objectives. There are also social challenges with realistic scenarios, pain points, social norms and cultural nuances that reflect the organizational makeup of the learner’s experience.

While it might be tempting to get lost in the excitement of the story and the character details, it’s also important to anchor yourself in the learning objectives to avoid a potential scope creep. What has worked for me is revisiting the learning objectives periodically throughout the scripting process to make sure that each detail has its place and purpose.