When the COVID-19 appeared for the first time, we could hardly imagine what awaits us and challenges we would have to face. At Red Hat, most of the teams are international and Red Hatters are used to communicate via their screens. Therefore, we managed to adapt to the „new normal“ quite easily. Nevertheless, when it comes to Red Hat Research, most of our Research activities involve, among other things, collaboration and even our physical presence at universities. And in an academic environment, it has been much more difficult and complicated to go online and completely change the way of teaching. Here‘s the story of our fellow Red Hatters who organized the UX/UI course at Masaryk University for the first time and had to cope with such an unexpected situation.
The plan for the course has been set. Let‘s get started!
In February 2020, four colleagues from Red Hat Brno decided to organize a full-semester course called Development of Intuitive User Interfaces at Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University.
The goal of the course was to walk students through a design process while creating a project implemented in React. Students were introduced to the basics of user-centered design and walked through tools to help them understand the needs of the end-user. This is a lot of material to learn, but the students caught on quickly. They were divided into teams of two based on their skillset: One of the team members was design-focused, and the other one was code-focused. It started perfectly and everything went smoothly. Until then, the lecturers had no idea what kind of experience awaits them and that they‘ll be forced to completely rethink the way they deliver the course.
And then COVID-19 hit…
UX is heavily collaborative, and a lot of activities rely on human interaction. How could this ever work remotely?
The immediate idea was to cancel the course completely, but UX designers deal with challenges and sudden changes all the time, so they knew they could get through this, face the situation and transform the class into a virtual experience. Even students were supportive and wanted to continue. As the UX Team (organizers) planned the new teaching and learning experience, they built a timeline and made sure to cover all the topics they had originally planned.
After all, this brand new experience forced organizers of the course to be more creative and adaptable. At the end of the course, students were ready to take on their final project: the implementation of an app. Their task was to process historical data about Brno’s weather and come up with an interesting story around it. It was fascinating to see the progress some teams have made, even in these challenging times.
How did the students deal with their final project?
What kind of original solutions did students come up with?
How did they evaluate the course given the unexpected change of the format?