Teachers are Experience Designers

Overview: Identify three ways teachers are similar to product designers.

We all know that teachers, like many product designers, have a deep affinity for colored pens and post-it notes. In today’s post I am here to identify three more, not-so-obvious, similarities between teachers and product designers:

1. Communicates Well Without Words

No, I don’t mean the angry look a teacher sends the student who just re-asked the question that was just explained. I’m referring to a teacher’s extremely specific formatting.

Example: All chemical reactions are Endo / Exo -thermic.

My students know exactly what to do when they come across a bolded, italicized, underlined, and double spaced text; circle one answer. Using this format consistently allows me to communicate my expectations, without repeatedly explaining them.

For product designers, every button, underline, and shadow, is just as intentional as a teacher’s formatting. Teachers need to effectively communicate through a handout, while product designers need to communicate through a screen. Either way, predictable and clear communication must be mastered; especially if your audience is comprised of fidget-spinning, highly distracted, children.

2. Meet Their Target Audience

With almost 200 students, teachers serve a very diverse population. In one lab group, a teacher can have a student diagnosed with autism, another living in extreme poverty, another battling severe entitlement, and another suffering from the all consuming “sleeping beauty syndrome.” Despite all these differences, teachers must still find ways to meet each individual student’s specific needs in order to create a great learning experience for all. For example, when an English Language Learner student gets frustrated completing a needlessly complex worksheet, the student registers class work as too difficult and will not put as much effort into decoding the next handout. The student will, over time, disengage. Similarly, a website that gives a user a bad experience will send the user away. When teachers and product designers truly care about their students/users, they target their specific needs and try their best to meet them, no matter what.

3. Lead

Whether you observed a teacher facilitate small group instruction, or watched him/her herd 400 kids on the light rail for a field trip to the Tech Museum, there is no doubt that teachers can lead. So how do teachers and product designers lead? By empowering students/users to work faster while making less mistakes. As teachers and product designers, we may only be able to control the confines of our classrooms and websites; however, in those small spaces, we have the ability to empower or frustrate, simplify or complicate, separate or bring closer together. We are powerful influencers. We can, and we will, change the world.

Thank you for reading! If you liked this blog post and want more teacher-related posts, check out my blog, Classy Compositions, for tips on how to be classy & composed in the classroom.

If you want to talk about Product Design, Teaching, or just want to say hello, you can email me at jasmine.n.rosen@gmail.com or connect via LinkedIn :)

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