UX Partnerships With Higher Education: A Win-Win Scenario

A photo of the cover of "This sux: A guide to better user experiences," published as part of the post "III UX Partnerships With Higher Education"

As part of my ongoing partnership with TryMyUI, I recently co-wrote a chapter for their free ebook This SUX: A Guide to Better User Experiences. Co-written with their Director of Educational Services, Karan Saggi, my chapter is called UX Partnerships With Higher Education and explores the possibilities for partnerships like their EDU program.

Why We Desperately Need UX Partnerships With Higher Education

UX is becoming one of the most important new fields within a variety of industries, but higher education is not prepared to train UX professionals alone. Many researchers and practitioners within higher education are paying attention to this emerging field and are creating compelling research and teaching projects around it. At the same time, it can be difficult for college researchers and educators to stay abreast of such a rapidly-changing field, especially one that is tied to such a broad range of skills and proficiencies.

In higher education, our time is also sharply divided amongst such diverse tasks as publishing, research, teaching, service, and administration. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to maintain a separate professional identity as an industry-ready practitioner of a field like UX, though some of us have managed to do so. It is much more realistic that members of industry who do UX every day can help us fill this gap in knowledge through partnerships.

Types of Partnerships

There are a variety of ways that industry and higher ed can partner to innovate research and teaching.

  • Research partnerships: simply providing access to their organizations for the purposes of empirical research can do wonders for addressing this knowledge gap. In order for those of in higher education to help prepare students for careers in UX, we need to know what kind of context students are headed for.
  • Providing free or low-cost access to tools: if an industry-based organization has developed a UX tool, why not provide it to college educators for free or at a reduced cost? This provides students with training in a cutting-edge tool while ensuring that the next generation of professionals will be familiar with the tool, and thus more likely to become users of it in the future.
  • Service-learning partnerships: if an industry-based organization has a low-hanging project that is safe for students to work on, the organization can partner with a college educator to run the project through their class. Students can perform usability testing on a prototype or existing application or can interview users, for example.

To learn more about UX partnerships with higher ed, download the free ebook in which this chapter appears here: http://trymyui.com/this-sux-ux-design-book