Weekly Insights March 29th – March 23rd

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Allison Guyton of User InsightAllison’s Insight

Open sourced education – I believe Michael Pate touched on this about a month ago, and the release of TED Ed brought it up to me again. The idea is very compelling! Want to sit in on Electrical Engineering lectures with students from MIT? Go right ahead – you don’t even have to pay tuition or move to Massachusetts! What will become very interesting is to see how and when this movement will gain legitimacy. Will anyone trust the skills of an individual who was self motivated enough to learn and direct their education on their own, versus the traditional gold standard of the college degree which is becoming more and more difficult to afford with each passing year? There are both big opportunities and some drawbacks for this type of educational experience – knowledge can be digested on the learner’s terms, but then the important parts are also missing from the experience, learning that only comes from interacting with others. I can see this evolving in a variety of different ways and as people continue to become comfortable with digital experience, or even prefer it as we sometimes find in lab, and technology removes some barriers that still exist I can see this opening up a new venue for education. And, perhaps a new, organic blend of subjects and understanding.

Go forth and learn!

Beth Yeckley of User InsightBeth’s Insight

I don’t remember the last time I had to book a hotel, but I wouldn’t mind booking one through Hotel Tonight.  This app is all about the details –

I love the content and feel like I’m getting a @Scoutmob-like description of the hotel (e.g., Why We Like It), rather than a cookie cutter amenities list. It even denotes what hotels are HIP vs. BASIC at a glance in the search list, which is a convenient way to sort through results in addition to viewing price. It also tells you up front how many rooms are left for that night. And the ability to expand the images to full screen and swipe through them is something small and simple but so key to hotel booking. Users have made it pretty clear to me in the past: no pictures, no booking; crappy pictures, probably no booking.

While I don’t know that I would use this tool to plan far in advance (other than to see what properties are available), I can see how it would be great for an impromptu getaway or if you’re city hopping and need a place that night.

Michael Pate of User InsightMichael’s Insight

An interesting look at the Facebook user research team’s in-home studies –

I like that they give respondents homework assignments before their session – this gives you a nice combination of contextual inquiry and a diary study. Contextual studies really do give you something beyond what you get from people when they come into a usability or research lab. Getting a view into a respondent’s home environment gives you a window into their life and that can be really powerful and make your insights rich in detail and actionable!