I recently stumbled upon Umberto Eco’s Book of Legendary Lands. This wondrous book is an illustrated journey into some of history’s greatest imaginary places; from Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (one of my childhood favorites and probably the only book I ever read in French) to Thomas More’s ‘Utopia below.
As Eco talks about in the book, maps have always been a way for us humans to make sense of our world. They often present a way to explore abstract ideas, the cosmos and our self.
Given it was a lazy Sunday afternoon when I first got a hold of this book and started going through it’s pages, it made me ponder about the connection between these imaginary maps and the way we have been talking about the Discovery Project.
We have talked a lot about the notion of empowering youth to take on the “Explorer Mindset” through openbadges pathways and we envisioned those as highly customizable maps of one’s personal career journey (or flight, if you are a Earhart fan like me :)).
In this post I would like to share some of the design principles that reflect the above approach and give you a sneak peak of the concept for the products’ User Interface. Hint: it includes maps :)
Learning Pathways Are Maleable
We view pathways as non-prescriptive and highly customizable experiences that evolve according to a learners’ personal needs. For that reason we are creating a tool that allows for pathways to be re-mixable and personalized. Carol Dweck talks a lot about the idea of a growth mindset within it intelligence and talent are maleable factors. In her book Mindset she says; “This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.”
They Are Also Playful
We use the notion of playfulness as one that both creates a joyful user experience that makes taking a pathway exciting but also playfulness as a means to think creatively about your future. "Play enables the individual to discover new approaches to dealing with the world"- Bateson & Martin say in their book “Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation.”
This is something that emerged from the interviews and user research that our esteemed team members Lucas Blair (Content Specialist) and Emily Goligoski (User Research Lead) worked on. Telling the story of your pathway is a story people love both telling and listening to. For that reason we are introducing story bits, a pathway element that highlights the narrative side of your learning and career pathway. In addition research literature, like Savitz-Romer & Bouffards’ book Ready Willing and Able, A Developmental Approach To College Access and Success, tells us that trying on an identity and following a narrative is especially important to youth when it comes to pursuing a career pathway.
With all these ideas in mind we have started to create a UI that is greatly inspired by maps and a UX that allows for this kind of playfulness and maleabl-ity (if that is a word:)). Here is a sneak peak on what our UI Designer (and Amsterdam native/map lover) Sander Giesing has been working on. From a UX point of view the badges are re-arrangeable like a puzzle and users can add new badges they have wishlisted and/or remove existing ones that are not relevant to them. In addition the little books represent what we mentioned above as story-bits, little notes that add a narrative flair to the pathway.
If this all excites you, join us at tomorrow’s Community Call to hear more about all things Discovery & Pathways. Till then and as always comments and feedback are very welcome !