User Experience Design Bootcamp at General Assembly

I attended my first General Assembly course yesterday: the User Experience Design Bootcamp at General Assembly West in NYC!

I signed up for this one-day course in order to get an introduction to User Experience Design (UXD) to better understand what it is and how it relates to other (tech) fields. I’d say that this objective was partly accomplished.

My overall experience was great: I learned, asked questions, and felt the engaging energy of being in a learning session with other interested people…it was like college could’ve been if I’d had the maturity/presence of mind to have chosen my interests haha. The additional benefits to attending a course like this are that you get to connect with like-minded students, you get to engage in live discussion with expert instructors, and you get to spend time in an environment that cares about “transforming thinkers into creators”, a great tagline if I’ve ever heard one.

Because I enjoyed the course, and because I actually was not 100% satisfied–“discontented observationalism being the (aspiring) designer’s modus operandi”, I’m told–and because I care about effective education and explanation, I spent some time drafting a review for the course.

An excerpt of my review for the one-day User Experience Design Bootcamp is as follows:

Pros:

  • Daniel was great at engaging class attention through sense of humor and keeping things moving while allowing frequent pauses for questions.
  • Ron was great at diving into details and spending time discussing questions with the class.
  • The 2 exercises from Section I (paper airplane-making and website wireframe improvement) were good at engaging class while highlighting important UX principles.
  • Lunch provided by GA was unexpected surprise, allowing for chats between students/instructor.
  • Discount code from GA due to the three class location changes was again unexpected but highly appreciated and raises my trust for the GA brand.

Cons:

  • Having 2 instructors led to a break in sense of continuity and familiarity, as halfway through the day we had to get used to another instructor, especially as Ron’s teaching style was not as high-energy or overtly humorous as Daniel’s.
  • Instructors took no time to get to know our names or anything about us; this has nothing to do with course content, but even doing something as simple has having the class make bootleg name tags for themselves would’ve helped the class feel less “impersonal”
  • High amount of information to get through in the Omnigraffle section of the course, and we did not cover all the exercises that had been made available in the class Omnigraffle stencil.
  • I did not walk away from the bootcamp with the ability to be able to explain UXD to someone else beyond how UXD has to do with “everything the user experiences” and begins even before the graphic design of a given project.
  • At end of the bootcamp, I did not have a good sense for what next steps interested students could take; I didn’t get a clear sense of direction for what we students could do to continue learning and improving at UXD. Even a small plug for GA’s courses would’ve been acceptable at this point so that we would have an idea of what to do next. As it was, I posed the question to Ron near the end of class to get an answer.

Knowing what I do now after having taken this class, I would still have taken it, but I would want to arrive with more prepared questions so that I could walk away with the ability to explain what it was that I’d just learned (a hallmark of understanding, in my opinion), as well as walking away with a clear idea of what I as a student could do to pursue the next steps in User Experience Design.

Ultimately I have the feeling that a big part of the reason I enjoyed the class as much as I did, and felt that I took away what I did, had more to do with the improvements in my own mindset than in the efforts of the instructors: “We do not see things as they are; we see things as we are.”

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