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A conversation on EducationUX

By August 23, 2015One Comment

Gapingvoid are a consultancy and visual communications agency in Miami Beach, Florida. Their blog is worth checking. The brain child of Jason Korman (co-founder and CEO) and Hugh MacLeod (co-founder and Creative Director), you’ll more than often see their work on Twitter talking about management and any number of education relevant ideas.

One of my favourite of their pieces of artwork is the one where they demonstrate the network being more powerful than the node. A simple expression (borne in many ways from Computing ideas) which is so true, the artwork demonstrates this in a modern and beautiful way.

We can see the power of the network in education so much today. If we didn’t have social networks as educators in online spaces, predominantly on Twitter, but others such as Slack, Google+, Remind and more, I’m confident the rise of events and organisations such as Pedagoo and Teachmeets ever come to be? Would Hélène Galdin-O’Shea met Tom Bennett and ResearchED been formed? Would she have got to meet and interview the Secretary of State for Education? The network is definitely more powerful than the node.

I have seen the work of @gapingvoid being dropped in to all sorts of presentations and blog posts on education for a long while now. It’s no small wonder. They have their finger right on the pulse and so quite rightly have worked with some of the biggest companies in the world. If you like their work you should definitely sign up for a daily dose of inspiration here.

Their insightful and clever pieces of work provoke thought, can help change management and reflect the ethos of your organisation.

I think one of the things I probably love the most is their often-seen tie in to computing and technological terminology. We saw it in the example above and we can see it in the one below too:

Here, the link between the definition and differences of data and information in Computing are stark. In Computing data and information are different. Data is information without context; data becomes information once it has a context. Here @gapingvoid appear to have used that idea and moved it forward to demonstrate the difference between information and knowledge. The lines represent the connections that you make to take pieces of information to turn it in to knowledge. As teachers we can look at this and hang lots of different ideas on to the connections between the different pieces of information. How can we as teachers use our knowledge as master practitioners to build those bonds to turn these isolated pieces of information in to knowledge which has connections running between them? Maybe we use the idea of spaced learning to reinforce the separate pieces of information. Maybe we choose to interleave different aspects of the topic to create connections to facilitate the learning process. Perhaps we might look at SOLO taxonomy to push students towards achieving relational or extended abstract learning; where students can connect the dots (as it were) to demonstrate their HOTS.

Either way you look at it, there’s lots to think about in the image above.

That idea is taken even further with design which looks adds creativity to the mix. I cannot find a reference which directly attributes @gapingvoid to this but I doubt whether MacLeod would have made the original without the cat in mind, do you?

I don’t know about you, but how clever (and important) is the image above? Thinking again about Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) we know that creativity is so important. I won’t write any more about the image above, I’ll let it do the talking for me.

So, why am I banging on about @gapingvoid? Well, apart from loving their work across the board, one of their designs came to me in my ‘daily dose’ this past week and yet again I left inspired. Again, it took on board an idea which has many roots in computing and business. The idea of the User Experience or UX. Korman took this idea of the user experience and coined the idea of Employment UX. He wrote this on LinkedIn about it:

Here’s a proposition: just like there is a UX for customers, employees also have a UX. Let’s call it Employment UX. We conceptualize customers in different ways – internal, external, etc. We spend a great deal of time on user experience (UX): a person’s behaviors, attitudes and emotions about using a particular product, system or service. Just like we think about customers, we should think about “organizational experience”, viewed from the employee perspective.

The accompanying image, in true @gapingvoid style, really resonated with me and really got me thinking too…

Whilst I think Korman is bang on the money, I think there is room for an #EducationUX too which looks at the ‘user experience’ for teachers and children too. We make our teachers’ lives better by making our children’s lives better. By the same token we in turn make our children’s lives better by making our teachers’ lives better.

What impact this thinking has on you, your school, your interaction with children in your classroom, teachers in your staffroom, etc, is up to you. But for how long have we ignored this idea? Unprompted graded observations? Last minute book scrutinies? Fear cultures? More initiatives than you can shake a stick at which keep teachers rushing around their schools like headless chickens trying to appease the latest fad from a misguided leadership team?

Over the last twelve months or so there has been a growing movement related to well-being too, that’s for sure. Definitely too there are some awesome school leaders out there. We read about them in blogs such as this superb one by new Head Chris Hildrew on ‘Growth Mindset Misconceptions and Missteps‘  or on Tom Sherrington or John Tomsett’s fab blogs.  We could probably do with a few more like these guys though.

With my mind running ten to the dozen from this thinking, perhaps it’s time for a look at and a conversation about #EducationUX that thinks and looks carefully at these ideas. These guys at gapingvoid know a thing or two and my money’s on them… What do you think?


So am I talking rubbish? Have your say in the comments.


Mark Anderson

Mark Anderson, @ICTEvangelist. Click here to learn more.

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