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Jeff Sutherland discusses how the single step of “defining the character” of who your product is for can provide powerful – and time-saving – insights into the work process. He gives a simple example of an incomplete definition of a character of a consumer who says, “I want a car to commute to work.” Add a little more information, and the path to the product becomes clearer: “As someone who lives in the suburbs and works in the city, I want a car to commute to work.” Compare that to: “As a farmer who lives in a rural area, I want a car to commute to work.”
One step and an idea we need to keep in front t of us as we develop Open Campus hybrid courses is defining the character of our learner. Who are they? They live in Southern California. They live in Santa Ana, one of the most densely populated cuties in America. They may be bilingual. They are more than likely from a family whose roots extend from Mexico, from Central America, or possibly from Vietnam.
Is this information useful enough to guide course development? To some degree. We know the importance of and value the inclusion of having robust and relatable language production models in the course such as videos of students who look and sound like them talking and using the target academic language, to clips of our dedicated and passionate Santa Ana Unified teachers modeling the target language.
I really have to get to know our learners better. What type of mobile technology do they have access to? What types of media do they regularly access, and for what purposes – for entertainment, the learning, for socializing? How do they use technology?
What do their daily schedules look like? What types of transportation do they routinely use?
More broadly: what are their learning goals? Career goals? Social goals? What do they hate about school? What do they like most about school? What do they want to change about their communities? What do they love about their communities?
This requires spending time with students dedicated to inquiry and observation. Let’s get learning.