Industry Academia Collaboration in UX Education: Bringing the UX Industry into the Classroom
Authors: Debra Satterfield, Ryan G Wilson, Azalea Houdek
Abstract: Students interested in a User Experience (UX) career are facing a multitude of barriers when leaving academia: a competitive, saturated market; poorly written job descriptions and companies unsure of the duties performed by UX practitioners; a rapid evolution of the market and emerging technologies; and individual uncertainty of career direction, be it UX Research, UX Design, User Interface Design, Interaction Design, Front End Design, or more. By developing professional networks and mentor relationships with Industry professionals, students can enhance their understanding of the field of UX and become more acquainted with industry expectations such as working with clients, title definitions, current and emerging technologies, evolving business needs, and streamlining their career focus.To support the industry-academia collaborations, a strategy was developed using a hybrid teaching model, I-SPACE (Innovation for Students, Practitioners, Alumni, and Community Engagement) that brings industry professionals into a college course on UX via online platforms such as zoom and Miro thus creating a virtual internship experience. The I-SPACE teaching method was co-created by design educators and industry professionals for the purpose of simulating internship experiences within an online course. The online virtual internships with industry professionals are conducted in three 5-week segments over a 15 week semester, to give students exposure to three distinct UX industry models and three sets of industry professionals. The goal of the virtual internship is to enhance career preparedness post-graduation through industry exposure, build a social network of professionals in the field of UX, and establish mentors.This paper will discuss the structure of the course, interactions with industry professionals in UX, and engagement with subject matter experts (SMEs). It will also discuss a comparison to traditional internships and a virtual I-SPACE internship experience in terms of the impact on student work, mentorship, and professional networking that are unique to the I-SPACE collaboration strategies and the insights of the industry mentors on the virtual internship strategy. Implications for virtual internship experiences will be addressed regarding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in internship opportunities and potential barriers will be identified.
Keywords: UX Internships, User Experience Design, Online Education, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Design Education
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