Thursday, May 27, 2004

Assignment: Epiphany 

Tonight's Advanced Web Design class assignment, a response to Seven Tricks That Web Users Don't Know: identify a semantic gap between designer's expectations and actual use patterns, and come to our last class day on Tuesday ready to present a simple but original (or seriously underutilized) idea which would have a major impact on user comfort and narrative ownership.

Yeah, I know -- at face value, this looks a bit like requiring kindergardeners to come up with patentable ideas overnight, when most people never invent a damn thing (unless you count making a bong out of an apple in college "inventing"). Call it an assignment in intuitive applied literacy; it may be an impossible task, but if there's one thing I've learned in teaching it's that you never know what will come out of the mouth of the proverbial babe. If nothing else, they'll sure have fun doing it. I even let the class go early, so they'd have some free time to wander and wait for the lightbulb to appear over their heads.

I guess I figured after weeks of hour-long student presentations on a variety of technical topics -- Photoshop, Flash, forms and feedback, DHTML and CSS -- it was better to wind down with one of those assignments which requires stew-time more than gruntwork. As an added bonus, it addresses what I see as the real issues of advanced design work: usability, possibility, ability, and all those other -ilities.

You can't imagine how good it feels to watch your students leave with their gears turning. It probably didn't hurt to promise them ice cream if they manage to impress me.

posted by boyhowdy | 10:22 PM |

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