Im Sommersemester 2022 durfte ich die Studierenden der Internationalen Hochschule – iu.com in Berlin im Praxisprojekt anleiten und begleiten. Mit 26 App-Entwürfen ist ein breites Spektrum an Ideen, Inhalten und User Interface Design Lösungen entstanden.
Neben diversen Routenplanern für spezielle Gebiete (Reiten, Wandern, Motorradfahren) ist auch eine hoch politische Idee für sichere Flüchtlingsrouten entstanden (sogenannte Underground Railways). Eine App ermöglicht die Buchung von Weltraumflügen, eine andere ermöglicht lokale Unternehmen durch Spenden zu unterstützen. Es werden Lebensmittel und Schriften geteilt, Songs analysiert, Preise verglichen oder PKW und Kleidungsstücke verwaltet.
Neben einem Crashkurs in Figma habe ich Grundlagen im Bereich User Experience und User Interface Design in diesem Modul untergebracht.
I am teaching UX/UI basics with the software Figma, and I am constantly looking for new methods to make it a great experience for all students.
Last time I wrote about the Figma City that this course builds to get into collaborative methods and fun. I also do “mini design sprints”, brainstorming sessions and standard technical blocks. My aim is to mix passive and active sessions, individual and team work to get everyone involved. The worst thing that can happen is an online course where most of the cameras are turned off! So here's another way to get everyone interacting, communicating and developing together.
The Figma Class Conference Day I use the new (built-in) whiteboarding tool FigJam to create a platform for the conference. Here I create an agenda for the day. It is usually the last day of a short module where most students have a project to present to the class, but unlike a presentation or a final exam where grades are at stake, this conference is completely free and without pressure.
One day in advance I present the agenda, where the first slot in the morning is a welcome by the lecturer
Participants can choose time slots to present their projects designed in Figma
OR participants can also talk about something else that is not directly related to Figma, or about a project that was not made with Figma
Additionally I add time slots for workshops, where not only the lecturer but the students can show something or explore a special topic together
The schedule of course includes breaks and a farewell in the afternoon
In Zoom, I open a few breakout sessions so that the 20 participants can spread out
In the FigJam board I offer trading cards like the ones that Figma proposes
Conclusion I am very happy with the result. I can't think of a better format right now to complement a module filled with the ideas of collaborative work, real time, design thinking and Figma.
I teach online courses for UX and UI basics. The main tool in those courses was the Sketch app, but now the competition in the form of Figma and XD needs its own space. Figma is attracting more and more people, and for me it was clear that this is where the innovation is happening right now.
These programs are not that far apart. What are symbols here are called components there, and artboards are frames, but the general functionality is the same. The biggest and most striking feature that Figma has to offer is the possibility to work together in one document in real-time. The future of collaborative working is here.
One of the methods I used in this 2-week course really led to amazing results and a boost in motivation – let's just call it fun!
A “LOW-THRESHOLD APPROACH” for real teamwork
The challenge was to bring together people with different levels of experience to engage with this new software and unfamiliar working environment. It had to be something simple, without the constraints of technical requirements or processes, something that could motivate people and didn’t require a great deal of qualification … like a game.
Playing a game with the freedom to explore and test, to communicate over something simple, a topic that is easy to understand, to combine different skill levels and aesthetic demands, having a common goal.
I stumbled over pictures of the game SimCity that I loved to play centuries ago, and I found many isometric illustrations. The use of an isometric grid makes it possible to establish a simple starting rule and then leave the rest to the students. No knowledge of perspective drawing is required for an isometric illustration, since everything takes place at a 30° angle.
We opened a Figma Education Team and started a new project called “FigmaCity”. The starting point was a brainstorming session in which everyone participated. We collected and noted down possible themes and designed a city together. I created several pages in Figma and breakout session in Zoom, and my students spread out and got started right away.
From the road construction office to the land office, energy supply, housing or business, etc. Everyone chose a favorite and they started to organise themselves as a team. Like a team in a company that wants to develop a new product, they automatically had to think in an interdisciplinary way, identify their key competences, share, compromise, collaborate, set and achieve goals.
The result was a shared library with many creative items that could then be tested in the first attempt build a small city.
Flow and motivation
We came back to this project again and again within 3 days. Some were stepping up their efforts to move this city forward and had their “flow moments”, others rather used the environment for discussion and exchange of opinions.
The outcome is a vibrant collage of different structures and ideas, sometimes chaotic sometimes very consistent. A picture of the different characters and experiences of the participants. Insights into the difficulties of coordinating optimally and in a short time. The fine line between the ability to understand and compromise on different opinions and the ability to defend and justify important ideas.
Notes on my inspiration
Studying media art and design
Being a lecturer on UX/UI
User-centred design and design thinking processes
Modular art and architecture projects I have seen or participated in
A deep conviction that work, learning and teaching should be fun!
Playing SimCity when I was a kid
About the author
Justus Wunschik is a freelance art director based in Berlin. He studied media art & design at the Bauhaus University, Weimar, lived in Moscow and worked in an international advertising agency, specialized in corporate communications online. He's a lecturer at the iu.de and cimdata.de