Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

Tell me why is emotional design important for you, and for education and learning?

Dear Dr. Norman;

I note that you have researched human memory, attention, learning, and design. As a grad student in Design, Housing & Apparel at the University of Minnesota, I am holding your new book <> in my hands. It closely relates to my thesis. My questions...

Tell me why is emotional design important for you, and for education and learning?

How does emotional design impact Multimedia and Instructional Design (it clearly impacts its audience)?

Can higher levels of learning and problem-solving be achieved with electronic tools? Or as Jonassen (2000) "Toward a design theory of problem solving" says, are design problems (which he says are ill-structured) "uniquely human interpersonal activities"?

Ever see an unhappy student, bored, distracted, annoyed. Or fearful, anxious, stressed out. Do you think they are learning? Of course emotion (and motivation) matters for education and learning.

We expert teachers know that motivation and emotional impact are what matter. Sure, one can always get the students to relax and be happy -- entertained, but although being laid back and relax can also lead to creativity, mostly it means that nothing much gets done. There is a good reason for the oft-made observation that the most productive people are unhappy people.

So what does a good teacher do? Create tension-- but just the right amount. Give assignments with strict due-dates and penalties for missing them. Does this create stress? Of course, but the kind that makes you work the evening before and get the job done.

Ever notice that it doesn't really matter how much time you are given on a project? You do the work the night before -- that's when the stress hits its peak: do it or die.

In fact, you know those wonderful lectures that are perfectly clear - crystal clear? Bad. No pain, no gain works for all muscles, including the one between our ears. You gotta sweat a bit to learn. Learning works best when you struggle, but struggle at just right level: too little and you don't learn, too much and you give up.

While I'm at it, I hate teachers who are always perfect. They practice the night before so they won't make a mistake in class (this is especially true of mathematics and computer science profs). This is bad teaching. Students then think that if they have difficulties,they aren't doing it right, or worse, aren't fit to learn math or programming. Teachers ought to do each problem cold - no preparation. Show the class that they make mistakes all the time. Struggle, go off in the wrong direction. Make a mistake? So what - simply try again, with a different approach. We all make mistakes. Even bored certified Gurus. Find the mistake and fix it: no big deal.

(You figure out where the comma goes -- "bored, certified Gurus" or "bored certified, Gurus," or bored-certified Gurus." Eat shoots and leaves. (Inside joke.))

I follow what I preach. You won't catch me giving clear lectures. AS for all those mistakes I make -- they are on purpose -- to teach you how to deal with them. Just remember that: it's all for your own good.

You also ask:
Can higher levels of learning and problem-solving be achieved with electronic tools? Or as Jonassen (2000) "Toward a design theory of problem solving" says, are design problems (which he says are ill-structured) "uniquely human interpersonal activities"?


Now it sounds as if you want me to write your thesis for you., Shame on you. But here are some hints. Question one: Yes (because it is, to coin a phrase, "Things that make us smart") . Question two, Yes, so?

By the way, what has all this got to do with apparel and multimedia? What does multimedia have to do with apparel? Ah, I get it, wearable technology: "he wore his screen on his sleeve."

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