Thoughts here and there.

Post Covid–College Education.

Covid19 has taken a toll on our daily lives; from working, transportation, shopping, and even education. Colleges were not prepared when the city ordered residents to “Shelter in Place” and all classes needed to be taught online. There was never a contingency plan in place or rehearsed to simulate when a face to face class goes completely digital. 

How will colleges adapt to the new norm? As an adjunct instructor, I wasn’t ready for this. All of a sudden my in-class lectures, workshops, guest speakers, and tutorials had to adapt to an online environment. I had to restructure the syllabus for more digital assignments and flexibility on the grading formula. That coupled with the fact that my students had returned to their respective countries requiring them to attend lectures and office hours, outside of their normal daily schedule. Myself, students, and class schedule had to be very flexible for the new norm. It also requires faculty and students to be comfortable in using online tools; Such as Slack, Google Drive, Hangout, and the increasingly popular Zoom.

There are a few reasons, students choose to enroll in a particular college is because of its reputation and location. If all classes are going to be online, well then location is out of the question. What about the reputation of the class, instructor, and school? The reputation factor might be able to withstand this stress test but is very dependent on the quality of the online course. As instructors, we need to make sure that our online courses have the same quality and intensity of learning as an in-person class. Sending an email once a week with and assignment will not cut it. It needs to be more personable and highly communicative and making students more accountable for their work.

With this new norm, colleges need to invest more in online tools, anything that allows students to share, comment and collaborate with each other. If Covid19 goes on till the end of the year (*fingers crossed* I hope not), colleges will have a higher enrollment rate in online courses. I hacked together my online class, by having all my students sign up for Slack and Google Drive, and Google Hangouts. It was fast, easy and students were able to ask questions almost immediately. 

To be able to quickly adapt to the online presence, instructors need to be tech-savvy. We will see more adjunct and young instructors teaching because they are able to overcome any technical challenges. Adjuncts will be able to relate to the students and make online courses personable. Tenured instructors will struggle, especially during the physical > digital conversion of the class and giving lectures in an online presence. 

These are weird times. We are sheltered in our house and the only means of communication is online. The sense of community is not really there unless we make it happen. As adjuncts, we are asked to do more and making sure the students get a quality education.

Designers Will Be Accountable

Designers who create without thinking do indeed become death. Does this sentence grab your attention? Oh, good. That quote comes from Mike Monteiro, author of Ruined by Design, during a talk on design ethics.

Designers essentially create solutions for complicated problems. We gain an understanding of the problem by talking to users, perceiving their pain points, and slowly earning their trust. If that’s the case, why do we create products that violate that trust? And why aren’t we taking any responsibility for our actions?

Who should we blame when data is used to promote something bad? Who should we blame when there is a dark UX pattern in a product we designed? Who should we blame when unnecessary user data is collected? Designers. We design these products that allow companies to collect data, promote falsehoods, and implement dark patterns. The worst part is we make it easier for companies to do this.

Users are starting to realize that enough is enough. They are protesting, deleting accounts, boycotting services, walking out of companies that exhibit unethical behavior, and they are looking for the people responsible for these practices. They are looking for the designer. As this continues, the designer’s reputation will worsen unless we change, and we cannot hide forever behind a big tech company’s privacy or other illegible policies.

If you are a designer, you need to ask yourself, Will this harm my users? Will this feature provide a positive impact? What am I asking my users to do? If you are a designer, the user always comes first, and you need to design products with their best interests in mind — not the amount of money being brought in, or whether or not a business goal is met. Don’t violate the user’s trust. If you ever get that icky feeling in your stomach, it means you need to change the product you are creating. I will leave you with a saying from Warren Buffett: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that you’ll do things differently.”

Published on Huge Magenta.


I am Didot (a monologue)

Alright alright, calm down. 
Gotham, H E L V E T I C A. You might be new kids on the block, but do you actually consider yourself useful? I mean really?

You might be fresh to look at, but guess what. They will be tired of you. They will move on to something newer. You know why? Because you are not a classic, you are not in history books, I bet you didn't help build a revolution. Thought so.

Move over kids. I - AM - DIDOT.

I come from prestige. I come from classical times where gentlemen’s mustaches were not just a hipster statement.

I had a monarchy, granted they were all executed and the guillotine was working endlessly during that season. I was involved in the French Revolution. I am the law. I am the constitution of France. 

You are here, because of me. Well not really, I don't know what euro trash types inspired to be created in. Calm down, Helvetica you might have a movie. You do know that you are just a replication of Akzidenz Grotesque right?

I saw you hiding under the table Gill Sans. You are just a disgrace. You actually bring a bad name to typographers, because of your creator. 

Why do I keep having this conversation? You will all go away one day and I will be still standing here. I am timeless. Look at me.

Look at my sharp corners and contrast. I can be used as a display. I can used to make a bold statement. I can also be used to tell a story as it was debuting from Charles Dickens brain. You can see me on the cover of magazines, in movies, tv shows, and movies. 

I am just going to sit back and enjoy my glass of wine. I come in, when they realize they made a huge mistake. You are just a  future regret, while I am the solution. 


© Elushika Weerakoon 2020
Interaction designer / Product designer