I've been working in the tech industry doing UX Design for about 10 years now, it's really crazy how time flies by. Back then, doing “UX” was still relatively new. A big part of our jobs was educating people about what we do: How UX could help uncover user pain points as well as unmet user needs. UX can help address these by partnering with other disciplines to create easy-to-use, simple and delightful experiences. But in order to provide a proper a solution like this, there needs to be an equal partnership among the disciplines you work with, mainly with Product Management and Engineering. The path to get there has taken a few years, but the result has been a variety of great and innovative products you can choose from today. A great example is communication. There are so many new ways to connect with people now, you can talk to the world using social media or video chat from your phone with anyone in the world, at very little cost. It's awesome! I recently connected with the host family I stayed with when I was an exchange student in high school (yes, that was a long time ago!). And that’s all because technology is being used to enhance people’s lives.
I've worked with many teams at Microsoft and now at Google. I've learned so much from each team and the product(s) we built. I wouldn't change anything I've experienced so far because it led me to where I am today. And today I am so proud and happy to be part of the Education team at Google. It’s always been my goal to work on a project where technology ‘improves peoples lives", and this is my chance to do so.
The main product I work on, Classroom, was entirely designed based on user needs. A team of people passionate about education got together to understand the issues teachers and students are experiencing today. It’s an area where technology really hasn't put a lot of effort in. Unlike other areas like communication or social media, education really hasn't experienced the explosion of amazing solutions.
We did a lot of research and found out that teachers are spending a lot of time hacking technology in order to use it in their classrooms. How is it possible that we can facetime with anyone in the world, but teachers still have to spend hours in front of a copy machine? In this age of technology, this doesn't make sense at all.
We started thinking of ways we could address this and other existing pain points. What if we started by creating a space where they could do everything they do today, just more efficiently? This way teachers could focus on the important part, teaching...and not tech-ing.
It's been a humbling experience to design hand-in-hand with teachers and students, learning directly from their experiences using the product. We had an amazing set of "testers" who piloted our work since the beginning. We are their biggest fans. It's such a rewarding feeling when you demo the product and a teacher gives you a hug because they're so happy about it. That’s when you know the user-centered design process really nailed it. It’s great for our users because companies are creating more and more products based on their needs. I am excited to see what technology will do for Education in the next few years.
If you are a Google Apps for Education school you can use Google Classroom right away and it's all for free! No ads either. Check it out here: Google Classroom
Here's an overview demo of Google Classroom: