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UX to UI Design: The Final Stage

For the final stage of our design process, we had to create interactive prototypes in PowerPoint. I found this part maddening, because I had to teach myself some Visual Basic in order to create the input fields, action buttons, and drop-down inputs.

You can view one of my usability tests on this final prototype below. Apologies in advance for the audio quality; my test subject has a naturally quiet voice.

(Yes, I offered him tacos at the end of the video as payment for his time.)

UX to UI Design: Creating a moodboard, Style Tile, and finished layout

This week we began to flesh out our design using a moodboard and Style Tile before creating our finished design mockup. I found the moodboard to be the most challenging aspect of this assignment. I mean, it’s a faculty portal for entering grades; what kind of mood could I possibly create here? But as I started doing the assignment, I came up with some creative imagery for the mood board: a seagull at sunset, for tranquility, and a statue of the Buddha because I want this to be a very “zen” experience for my users! Although I have been doing web design for nearly 22 years, this is my first time creating a moodboard. It was kind of fun. (I found a great moodboard template at Thanks, Lauren Schroer!)

For the Style Tile, I tried to restrict myself to web-safe fonts (Georgia and Verdana). Because this is a faculty portal, and will likely be accessed on older machines by some faculty members, I didn’t feel that web-embedded fonts were necessarily a good choice. Speaking of fonts, something weird is happening to the text on the menu buttons when I move from Illustrator to Photoshop. The text looks great in AI, but it looks off to me in Photoshop. I’m not thrilled with the buttons, and if I had more time to spend, I likely would have redone them.

If I end up teaching our new Human Computer Interaction course in the Spring, I plan to have students do a moodboard and Style Tile as part of their final projects. (A free Style Tile template was provided by Adobe Education Exchange.)

View my completed assignments here:

UX to UI Design: Usability Testing

For Unit 3 of the UX to UI Design, we were required to create wireframes and then conduct usability testing. My students know these assignments well, as I require them in many of my classes. Still, it’s good practice for me to be doing the assignments I expect my students to do.

Video of one of my usability tests is below. It was shot on a Kindle Fire and so it’s not great quality, unfortunately:

You can view my completed wireframes here: wireframes (Please note: you may have to download this file and view it, rather than viewing it in your web browser.)

UX to UI Design: Site Map

For Unit 2, I had to do a card-sorting task for information architecture and then create a basic site map. You might recall that we were previously asked to identify a problem. The problem I identified was faculty members’ having difficulty entering and submitting their final grades. I found this assignment to be challenging because of the nature of the problem I’ve chosen to solve. My issue is not so much a problem with the web site’s information architecture as it is with the interactivity and lack of feedback. A flowchart might have been a better choice than a site map in my case.

That said, here is my Site Map.

UX to UI Design Course on Adobe Education Exchange

Since I have 3 weeks off from teaching, I’ve decided to refresh my skills. I’m taking a free UX to UI Design Course on Adobe Education Exchange. We had to identify a design problem, which was not hard to do; many of the instructors in my department have been having difficulty with the school’s online grade entry system, so I am going to focus on this issue. We’ve started off creating personas. Here is the persona which I’ve created: Persona-David Torres

Although I have experience in the creation of personas, it’s sometimes good to go back and do the work which I expect my students to do. Many of my students have had to create personas for my interactive design courses. For me, it was a good reminder of what it’s like to be a student.

My Talents of Teaching Video

As part of Second Semester Seminar, I was required to create a 5-minute “Talents of Teaching” video. I was assigned the following question: “What are some of the big questions that one of your courses seeks to address, and how do you help engage students with these questions?” Here is my video response:

Interesting article about tenure

The author wrote: “[H]e offers a reiteration of the ‘keep your head down and stay silent until you’re tenured’ line. Don’t exercise your academic freedom until it’s guaranteed. Don’t engage the public. Don’t be noticed. What this line of advice ignores is that silence becomes a habit, a bodily norm. You learn not to speak for your own protection.”

Silence Won’t Protect You: Kelly J. Baker on academic freedom and the neoliberal academy

Academic Citizenship, Shared Governance, and Leadership

I’ve been reflecting on the subject of Academic Citizenship in preparation for this morning’s role-playing activity. I’m already somewhat involved in Academic Citizenship, Shared Governance, and Leadership:

  • I am the district liaison for my discipline, responsible for facilitating our monthly discipline meetings.
  • I am the Principal Advocate for our proposed curriculum changes in the Computer Science, Web Development, and Networking Systems and Technology degree tracks. I have been responsible for shepherding our proposed changes through Wright College’s Academic Affairs committee and then through the Joint Curriculum Development Council (JCDC).
  • I am already serving on a committee exploring Digital Literacy across the curricula at Wright College.

Moving forward, I have an interest in serving on Academic Affairs. I have already spoken with Wright’s Curriculum Facilitator, and she agrees that I would be a good fit for this committee. Once I have obtained tenure, I may take a more active role in shared governance and leadership.

Diversity, Inclusion, Respect, and Student Support (Part 2)

I read The College Fear Factor: How Students and Professors Misunderstand One Another (Cox, 2009) back in October, and it really resonated with me. In particular, Cox identified that most college students have a preconceived notion of what a college classroom is “supposed” to look like. And that idea is a professor standing in the front of the room lecturing at students. Numerous studies have shown that lecturing is not a very effective way to transmit knowledge; as we learned in a previous TAP seminar, students retain less than 10% of what they hear in a lecture. So it would seem obvious that we as instructors would want to void this passive model of learning as much as possible.

There’s a problem, though. Even though we know that peer-to-peer learning and group activities are much more effective for learning and retention, students will complain that “the teacher didn’t teach me anything!” This can be particularly problematic when such comments appear on a teacher’s SEIQs. It all goes back to this perception of how college classes are supposed to be. So what are we as instructors to do?

One instructor with whom I work deals with this on the first day of his class. As he goes over the syllabus with his students, he explains to them that numerous studies have shown that students learn better and return more when they are more actively involved in peer-to-peer learning. He then poses a question to his students: Do they want to do the traditional lectures, which are shown to be less effective, or would they like to try peer-to-peer learning? So far, every class of his has responded that they want to try peer-to-peer group work. The students have a say in how they will be taught, and the instructor has not had to deal with “he didn’t teach me anything”-type snark.

Since I decided to flip my classroom this term, I struggled with how to deal with these student perceptions of what constitutes college learning. I decided to record my own lectures in my own voice, as suggested by Bergmann & Sams (2012). Hopefully my students will realize, since it’s my voice in the lectures, that I am still the one teaching them. I’ll know for sure whether or not this worked when I see my SEIQ results at the end of the term.


Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Eugene, Or.: International Society for Technology in Education.

Cox, R. D. (2009). The college fear factor: How students and professors misunderstand one another. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.