by Bernie Goldbach in Clonmel
After one semester of integrating AI into my daily lab sessions, I can assuredly say AI has made a profound impact on the way our UX designers work. Leveraged purposefully, AI enhances creativity, improves personalisation, and trims workflows. As I review my early 2023 teaching practice, I want to offer a few observations about using AI while teaching creative media students in a university setting.
Aiding Accessibility and Inclusivity
Without even coming close to ChatGPT, people can take some simple steps to ensure their use of AI can enhance accessibility. It starts with reviewing the alt-text tags that Microsoft generates inside programs such as Word and PowerPoint. Microsoft's AI technology tries to make digital experiences more inclusive by automatically creating text descriptions of images. The content creators should review that AI-generated content. To be truly accessible, web sites should have alt-text for images that are optimised for screen readers. This is happening behind the scenes already which means AI contributes to a more inclusive design approach. I'm a big fan of adding meta data to online folders and directories because those ReadMe files help me locate locations of files I've saved since the 90s. I've discovered the Markdown files I'm adding to OneDrive and Google Drive locations help me locate information faster when I ask the respective mobile apps questions by using my mobile phone.
Creative Possibilities with AI Tools
In the Web Content Management Systems module that I taught, we used ChatGPT+ to quickly produce code snippets. Students learned to create prompts for the AI to generate design elements, suggest layouts, and offer colour palettes based on user specification. This means I could reduce the amount of time students were given to produce mock-ups and increase the time for collegial review of the creative process.
Intelligence about Personas
A good UX developer can create engaging content and clever interfaces. We discovered we could ask both Bing and ChatGPT+ to write content for specific audiences. If we didn't like the result, we could revise the prompt and regenerate a response. Our results in labs revealed tailor-made mock-ups of interfaces and content. Doing this meant we had to cross-check the upstream sources used by the AIs to validate if the suggestions were valid. By checking these footnotes, students achieved a higher level of digital literacy.
Enhanced User Research and Insights
We provide eight semester of UX training to our Creative Media and User Experience Design students. They learn to understand user needs and behaviors. These students also learn how to leverage AI-enabled tools to analyse vast amounts of user data. An AI can review hundreds of data points concerning user patterns, pain points, and expectations. We also use a "visitor paths" function of Statcounter to make informed design decisions about text enhancements, video placement, and photostreams. An AI can serve as a secondary evaluator for mock-ups, ensuring User Interfaces are not only aesthetically appealing but also highly functional and user-centric.
Intelligent Voice Interfaces
My 12yo son talks to handsets, smart speakers, and laptops. Voice interfaces have become integral parts of Dylan's computer literacy. He often argues with the Alexa or a weather app if he doesn't believe its answers. I think his interactions more human-like and intuitive. Alexa uses Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning to better understand user intent, anticipate what we need, and to deliver seamless and contextually relevant responses. If I have a teaching block that extends two or more hours, I set up a calendar reminder to prompt me to show a live session with Otter.ai during which I ask myself what I've done in the preceding time slot. And I occasionally ask overhead questions of students. They can see the transcript generating dynamically on the large digital screen as we produce a five minute recap of our teaching period.
Streamlining Design Workflows
Most of the criticism I've read about AI in academic environments concerns the end-user experience. I've discovered AI can also optimises the design process itself. AI-driven automation tools can handle repetitive tasks, such as image resizing, content tagging, and data analysis. Services like Divi Builder inside WordPress or the AI inside Notion can free designers to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of their work. This increased efficiency means projects can finish sooner, content can publish more frequently, and the creative students who master these workflows will be able to produce greater client satisfaction when on the job.
We need to validate the above findings.
I'm blogging about the impact that AI has in my classrooms because I hope to spark a collegial discussion about where we're headed. AI continues to evolve. We need to understand its influence on the UI/UX design field and we need to equip our graduates with tools they can use to get the best results. I believe we should be at the forefront of this transformative journey by harnessing the power of AI to craft captivating, personalized, and user-centric experiences. I've seen how it's possible to unleash student creativity to revolutionise user research and to optimise design workflows. I believe we need to embrace AI-driven toolsets, starting with students using these tools to push the boundaries of what’s possible. By doing that, our graduates will be able to thrive in an AI-driven era of design.