IndustryMUXDStudent Stories

Reflections on remote Google design sprint

By May 27, 2020 No Comments

Compassion, collaboration, and openness to new ways are key in times of change. Our Master of User Experience Design (MUXD) students did a remote design sprint with Google to tackle Digital Wellbeing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Our students are currently in their last trimester, working with the industry on projects to solve real-world problems. They had just started this design sprint when the government went into alert level four lockdown due to COVID-19 so they took a break to rearrange life, take care of loved ones, and reflect on the importance of digital wellbeing during these times.

They re-started the design sprint after the mid-trimester break and worked online with David M. Hogue, Ph.D. Design Lead at Google. Our students displayed an exceptional ability to adapt to change whilst finding new ways to collaborate online effectively. All this, while learning new methods and working on some of the most challenging ethical and digital problems we face in this day and age. Our supervisors and students shared their reflections on remote working during these times:

“Although improving health and wellbeing has been the focus for many people, professionals, and companies for several years, these have become especially important goals in this time of the coronavirus crisis and COVID-19 threat. Although we originally planned to collaborate in person, circumstances intervened, but the teams were not deterred. The students have been adaptable, collaborative, and compassionate as we all worked together, even though we are literally scattered around the world. They have applied their research and design skills and knowledge of web and mobile technology to address not only the challenges of effectively working remotely, but continuing their efforts to find ways to improve the digital wellbeing of others.” – David M. Hogue, Ph.D. Design Lead, Android Tools & Dashboards

“Remote-first classroom comes with it’s challenges in communication, but also interesting opportunities. Students have been sending me their updates throughout the day asynchronously via Slack channel. I’m able to find the relevant context based on the work in progress they shared with me, and provide feedback they need at the right time. This is much more effective than relying on the one or two hours we are all in class. We are now able to embed feedback touch points within their process, and provide concise and relevant feedback that helps them learn in context.” – Shanshan Zhou, UX designer at Optimal Workshop

Throughout the design sprint we reflected together on what worked, what could be improved, and how. Here are some of the insights and reflections from the MUXD students:

“Working remotely is a new experience for myself as I tend to opt for face to face working and learning environments. With this, I thought that the combination of learning a new design process, the ‘design sprint’, and doing so remotely would be a nightmare. However, I found this to be a valuable learning process as it made us rethink how we tackle the problem space as well as how we tackle the teamwork aspect. Of which both are valuable skills for the future.”– Bradley Millen, Master of User Experience Design

“Our necessary shift to remote collaboration with Google and our project teams required us to think about our project in a new way. We adapted quickly and learned to find the right balance of screen-time, messaging, and solo work. Learning to work together online was challenging at first but we got to a really good place, and had the opportunity to try something totally new in this program.” – Abby Miller, Master of User Experience Design

“Remote collaboration was a challenging new concept for me, one which turned out to be a rewarding experience. Our team acclimated well to the remote design sprint as we learnt to collaborate and interact remotely.  We used shared documentation and screen sharing (mainly Mural and Google Hangouts).  Occasionally it was a challenge to effectively manage my time, but the flexible hours were a positive aspect, with a young family at home.” – Lina Goldstein, Master of User Experience Design

“Working on the google sprint showed me that it is possible to come up with a solid consolidated product idea in a small time frame. I found that working remotely was quite fun and that many of the available tools such as miro and figma made it easy to work with the team on our prototypes.” – Cameron MacDonald, Master of User Experience Design

Our MUXD students will be working on their last industry projects until July with local organisations such as DIA, WCC, Arcanum, IDIA, SSS IT, Psychoactive, Ocular and others. While gathering their work into a portfolio, they will start to look for opportunities for the future. If you would like to meet the students for a virtual coffee, or are interested to collaborate in the future as an industry partner, don’t hesitate to contact us at: dana.fridman@vuw.ac.nz and aaron.munoz@wellingtonict.ac.nz

You can enrol for the July 2020 intake of our Master of User Experience Design now and collaborate with our industry partners too.

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