A User Interface That Better Connects With Students

In Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools, we share a narrative of educators who’ve radically changed the user interface of school to support the user experience that learners need and desire. These are educators who defy the metaphor of interaction with the poorly constructed interface of a customer call center that results in spending precious time on hold, seeking to speak with a human who cares about our problem — only to find ourselves disconnected when we get a human voice on the line. That’s not the user experience we want for our learners.

In school, educators control the user interface of learning through design — use of time, schedules, services, technologies, space and rules governing culture. The interactions of learners with the interface of school lead to more or less desirable and necessary user experiences.

Students’ levels of engagement, love of learning, social-emotional competency, personal satisfaction, and sense of belonging and accomplishment are shaped by our intentional design of school. If we want students to assess their user experience as positive, valuable and useful to them, we have to design for space, culture, technologies and pedagogies that lead to that result. We have to align philosophy, policy, professionalism and practice with learners’ experiences in mind. Otherwise, the user experience that our learners report is their version of the schools of the past.