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Students map experiences at the Festival of Creative Learning 2019

Once again we contributed to the University’s Festival of Creative Learning, a week in the academic schedule where students take a break from their formal studies to explore a wide range of new topics and learning techniques.

This was the fourth time I’ve participated. As with previous years, I adapted some of the UX techniques training I’ve developed for staff to provide an afternoon’s introduction for students.

Supporting the Learn Foundations Project

This year, I collaborated with colleagues working on the University’s primary Virtual Learning Environment, Learn, who were interested to find out how the system featured in students’ experiences at critical points in the year.

My colleague Duncan, has been conducting user research for the Learn Foundations project for pretty much the whole of this academic year, so the activities I ran through were providing supplementary insight to support his much more rigorous programme of work.

Read more posts about the UX Service’s work with the Learn Foundations project 

The session: UX techniques for students

In this session, we looked at the experience mapping process and used a series of workshop activities to enable students to explore their experiences as an undergraduate. Through a process of interviews, affinity mapping and walkthroughs we generated a high level experience map that provided a reference point from which to look more closely at a specific point in the academic year that was particularly stressful.

The second half of the session we dedicated to prototyping; using a rapid iterative method to collaboratively design interfaces in Learn that could have the potential to deliver a better experience around the time of assignment submission. The technique we used involved staff and students working in teams, which is a really productive way of drawing out student requirements through a problem solving collaborative design exercise.

What students said about the session

Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with top ratings from every student in almost every area.


“Very good workshop. It was interesting to participate with staff.”
“It was a useful way to get experience in an area I’m really interested in. I really want to put these techniques into practice in my studies.”

The session step-by-step in photos

Two students discuss, seated at desk

Students interview each other about their experiences as an undergraduate.


Student points at post it notes on wall

After a process of distilling interview insights onto post-it notes, the group took turns to play back what they’d learned.


Students discuss post its stuck on wall

Working together, the group identified common themes in the stories they’d shared before prioritising particular areas of issue.


People around a desk discuss sketches of user interfaces

In our prototyping activity, staff and students started out sketching their own ideas and sharing them back to the group.


Pairs work together at a table.

After several rounds of sketching, sharing and discussing, everyone worked in pairs to deliver a final interface sketch.


Student points to a user interface sketch as others watch.

In the final round of sharing, we could see a small number of ideas had made it through to the sketches presented by each pair.


Lots of user interface sketches arranged on a desk

The rapid iterative sketching workshop activity produces a large number of interface concepts in a very short period of time, and helps a group find consensus amongst their ideas.


Get in touch

If you want to find out how the User Experience Service can help you and your team collaborate more effectively, get in touch.

Contact the User Experience Service

More about the Festival of Creative Learning

Festival of Creative Learning website

Our previous blog posts about the Festival of Creative Learning


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