Saturday, October 17, 2009

M364 - lessons learnt

So, I did my M364 Fundamentals of Interaction Design exam yesterday. I've got to the end of the course, and it's a good moment to look back and take stock.

First, I discovered that I can actually study something properly. I remember my academic career as process of scrabbling through tests and exams despite having dreamed my way through classes and prep, until coming a cropper at uni. For this course I sat down and read the scheduled materials and scribbled away in the margins and attended the tutorials and got good marks on the assignments. That was very satisfying (to use a User Experience goal).

Second, I can do something about my wandering attention. I've taken to using the Pomodoro Technique, and I feel I've come a long way, even if I still have a long way to go.

Thirdly, I've developed a good way of organising my notes for something like this - I used the free mindmap option at The good news is that this is a very effective way of reviewing material which forces you to resolve all those niggling little questions (what's the difference between ubiquitous computing and wearable computing?) that you can so easily skate over when merely reading. The bad news is that I didn't take up mindmapping until the revision phase, and didn't complete this activity in time to move on to the next, which would have been to extract hand-written revision cards from the mindmaps. So, next time, mindmap as I go through materials for the first time!

So, what next? I hope to find ways of using what I've learnt about Interaction Design at work, which was supportive about the course. No luck so far, but having made this investment I also hope to find a mentor through, perhaps, the IXDA, or, more informally, through the UX book club. I'm also considering whether I can do some IxD on the side, getting involved with friends or an open source project.

I'd like to build on what I've learned. Now I've finished the course I'd like to use some of the time this releases to do some Google analytics, and also to do some Arduino hacking - very different directions, I know!

Further down the line, I'm considering taking the Open University's Design Diploma. It seems pretty practical, and I suspect that the various digital design labels (Interaction Design, User Experience and Information Architecture) are going to end up merging with an updated version of Product Design, many of whose wheels we are probably re-inventing. And, above all, I like designing things. This is probably what took me into software development, and as the process became more and more productionised, and involved less and less design, it may be what took me out of it too.

Enough reflection, now for action...