Meet Jim, a fast learner who struggles with reading
A few years ago, I joined a team as the first dedicated UX designer. On the team was a front-end developer/designer who I’ll call Jim. Jim wanted to learn UX design. So I taught him about interaction design, prototyping, user research, and other areas of UX. We tackled many problems together. Jim learned quickly, and he immediately applied what he learned to our organization’s projects.
Jim wanted to learn how to run usability tests on his own. I enjoy learning from reading books, so I recommended he read The Handbook of Usability Testing. He skimmed through the book, then set it down. He barely read any of it. He told me he struggled with reading. I knew he was a quick learner. However, when we first started working together, I didn’t know he had difficulty with reading.
Required learning goals, not required learning experiences
Through working with Jim, I learned a very important lesson: Each of us learns differently. We learn at different speeds, and in different ways. I keep this in mind as I develop curriculum.
At Center Centre, we don’t require students to learn from one, specific source (or type of source). Students choose their own learning adventures. For each course, students create a personalized learning plan (PLP)—by choosing from an array of learning exercises and projects.
Students choose their own learning experiences for their PLPs. We don’t require PLPs to include specific activities or projects. But we do require students to meet the learning goals for each course.
Each course has a unique set of learning goals. For example, one of the learning goals in the Copywriting and Content Strategy course is “Explain why content strategy is important to the success of an organization.” Throughout the course, students must demonstrate they’ve met this learning goal. They must be able to explain why content strategy is important in the design process.
Suggested core resources
That’s where suggested core resources come in. In each course, we suggest core learning resources for our students. We don’t require every student to use every resource. Instead, we encourage each student to choose resources that support their current knowledge and move them closer to their personal learning goals.
To meet the learning goal, “Explain why content strategy is important to the success of an organization,” students can choose from a handful of suggested core resources. Core resources include materials like Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson, “A Checklist for Content Work” by Erin Kissane, and the online seminar Content Strategy: Maximizing a Business Asset. Students may also suggest their own resources.
To demonstrate they have met a learning goal, students can write a written reflection, make a short presentation, complete a project, or suggest a different assessment exercise.
We’ll work closely with each student to help them create their Personalized Learning Plan. We’ll make sure students are on track to meet the required learning goals for each course and for the entire program. We’ll help them find resources that are relevant and up-to-date. And we’ll show them how to evaluate the quality of resources.
Our students will learn the way they learn best
By the time Center Centre students graduate, they won’t just know how to apply content strategy methods to their work. They’ll know how to find reliable learning resources, which is a necessary skill for lifelong learning.
My former coworker Jim was a great developer/designer. He was a quick learner, but he wasn’t was a quick reader. He was dedicated to creating productive and meaningful experiences for the people who used our designs. He just needed resources that supported the way he learned best.
At Center Centre, we’ll have students like Jim. By giving our students a chance to create their own learning pathways, we’ll create a learning environment that helps each student reach their personal learning goals.