From the Other Side of the Webcam: Professor Successfully Completes First Online Course

Online Teaching Tips - Professor as Student

Success as an online student = commitment, accountability, and reading instructions


This is the third installment in a short “from the other side of the webcam” series journaling my experience as an online student at Oregon State University’s Learning XD Design Design Certificate program. For context, check out my first post from June 3, 2020 and second post from June 16, 2020.

I just completed my first of five courses in the online Oregon State University’s Learning Experience Design (LXD) Certificate program: UI/UX in Experience Design with instructor Caesar Wirichaga, Head of Design at Kickstand. As an instructor for online courses for more than six years, this is the first time I have been on the other side of the webcam.

“Learning experience design (LX design) is the process of creating learning experiences that enable the learner to achieve the desired learning outcome in a human-centered and goal-oriented way.” – LXD.org

The six-week course was formulaic – a feature I like and prefer to emulate in the online courses I teach. Each week we were asked to read, contribute to a group discussion forum three times, complete an individual assignment that was built upon one week to the next, and engage with three peer students in the class in small group discussions. There were 24 students in the course. I was on Team Green with N.K. – an experience designer from Missouri, D.B. – an information designer from Australia, and A.P. – a trainer from Washington. The remaining 20 students were professionals in multimedia design, instructional design, and marketing. We are all enrolled in the class and/or certificate program for various reasons, but based on self-introductions, the most common theme is our mutual desire to be lifelong learners, improve our knowledge in user experience design, and learning more about mapping empathy to user needs.

It is my goal to confidently add UX/UI design and user experience to my list of core competencies. For the past 25+ years, I have acquired ample applied experience in professional communications, digital marketing, and analytics. Adding to my credentials in user-centered design and usability testing is my main motivation for completing this certificate.

Active UX/UI projects I am working on right now include 1) ongoing development and user testing of a portal that houses research findings for an NIH grant studying the clinical relevance of natural product-drug interactions; 2) future development of courses in user experience design; 3) integration of UX/UI methods in the curriculum; and 4) creation of the Murrow Online Community in the learning management tool – Canvas.

The core theme of the course was the application of user experience design principles in the design of learning experiences. Key topics were visual design, user research, information architecture, usability, low fidelity prototyping, principles of accessibility, and gamification. We were asked to narrow our focus on for the build of a prototype and case study over six weeks. Here was the breakdown:

  • Week 1: Design Narrative and Empathy Map
  • Week 2: Embed Feedback into Design
  • Week 3: Low Fidelity Prototype Concepts
  • Week 4: Prototyping and Identifying Affordances
  • Week 5: Challenging Assumptions and Updating Prototype
  • Week 6: Case Study
Here is the finished compilation of my project over six weeks (built in Canvas)
Weeks 1-6 built in Canvas

Case Study (built in Adobe Spark):
case study cover
Case Study built in Adobe Spark

As we were encouraged to tie our learning experience into something related to our professional lives, I chose to use the development of the Murrow Online Community as the focus for my 6-part task. The goal of Murrow Online Community is to create a user-friendly, collaborative space specifically designed for instructors teaching online courses for The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. Those who teach online have a unique set of needs, materials, deadlines, and constraints not necessarily felt by those teaching in-person classes. Most of the instructors teaching online are also teaching in-person, so helping them bridge-yet-differentiate these two spaces is important. In my final report for the course, I narrowed my remarks to the learner experience hierarchy of needs as outlined by Sundeep Singh Pardal at eLearning Industry (2018).

With the focus on experiences (people, activities, context), here is a breakdown of how I want to sustain and/or change my approach to the creation of the Murrow Online Community:

I will close with a formula I use when asking students to reflect on learning experiences:

What I thought I knew before coming into the UX/UI for Experience Design Course
I thought I knew enough about UX/UI design principles to be successful in the course and grasp high-level concepts and lingo. In reflection, I believe this is true but was pleasantly surprised at how much I would enjoy meeting others on the same journey and seeing how they interpreted assignments and prompts.
What I learnedI like taking online classes. I assumed I would struggle based on my learning style but I have not. I really enjoy the pacing, interaction with peers, and the process of learning.
What I would do differently given a second chanceI would spend more time reading and pay closer attention to the overview of the course. I didn’t fully grasp that we would be building on a single prototype so, in the first two weeks of assignments, I was treating my work as individual tasks vs. a culminating experience. This is my fault as I did not do my diligence in fully grasping the beginning > middle > end results.
Greatest challengesMy greatest challenge was being a student again. I haven’t been a student in more than 17 years so I am not used to having these types of deadlines, following strict instructions, and reading through expectations on assignments. It was very instructive.
Greatest winsI believe this experience will help me not only achieve goals in adding to my UX/UI credentials – but it will help me be a better professor, instructional designer, and creator of course content. I would recommend that all instructors teaching online classes should actually take an online class unrelated to what they teach so they can benefit from the experience of being on the other side of the fence.

Next up:

  1. Lifelong Learning Engagement Strategies (July 20 – Aug 30, 2020)
  2. Advanced Tools and E-Learning Trends (Sep 7 – Oct 18, 2020)
  3. Elements of Learning Experience Design (Oct 26 – Dec 6, 2020)
  4. LXD Practicum: Applications in the Wild (Oct 26-Dec 6, 2020)

This post is part of Rebecca L. Cooney’s Online Teaching Tips series. Check out more tips in the “Online Teaching Tips” category.

1 Comments on “From the Other Side of the Webcam: Professor Successfully Completes First Online Course”

  1. Pingback: From the other side of the webcam: Perspectives of a professor as online student | Rebecca L. Cooney

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