Losing your passion for something you truly love is not uncommon. Sometimes the more you work on things you are passionate about the more likely you will lose passion at some points during your journey.
As a PhD student, this has been the case for me ever since I started my PhD. They usually say, if there is one thing that can keep you persistent in long journeys, such as a PhD, it would passion. I learnt this first hand yet realized passion can go up and down during your journey and thus you have to learn how to keep it on throughout the road.
Another concern I have is that my PhD is in the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI). It is a very exciting and a fast growing field. Which means no matter how much courses and experience you have in the field, you need to keep learning and updating your knowledge constantly.
Thus, to work on both my knowledge and my passion, while doing my actual PhD work seemed like a double burden in the begining and it was rather scary. I had to work long hours, and read many scientific papers every day to improve quickly but I found myself burnt out.
Life long learning is the key
At some point while looking for literature online, I came across Interaction Design Foundation (IDF). IDF has a rich database for articles in HCI many of which are written/ contributed by top experts in the field such as Don Norman, Clayton Christensen and Alan Dix. It has “the biggest and most authoritative library of open-source UX Design resources”. What I found fascinating about this library was the fact these article are meant to be educational unlike scientific paper that are meant to present specific projects and discuss their progress. This led me to believe that I need to assign part of my time to educational resources beyond scientific journals. Luckily, I found that this is exactly the mission of IDF, which is to provide rich and interactive resources for design education. This is manifested in the UX Courses IDF provides.
As such, for the past two years now, I have allocated around one hour everyday to keep learning through these courses. This did not only help me widen my knowledge but it worked also as a reminder everyday of my passion for design which I realised the more I learn the more it grows. It has been a life changing step that I will always be grateful to.
How can IDF courses help you as a designer?
1- Widening your knowledge base
IDF provides a wide range of courses covering different topics in design such as User Research, Usability, Gestalt Psychology, Visualisation, Design thinking, User Experience, Interaction Design and many more. As such this helps you learn in width, as opposed to what we commonly do in academia, learning in depth in particular topics. However, the courses are divided into three categories: beginner, intermediate and advanced level. This categorisation will help you also learn in depth starting from the beginner courses ending with the advanced ones.
2- Active Learning
IDF courses use a mix of text, videos, photos, infographics, quizzes and writing-based tests. This variety makes learners engaged in an active process as opposed to passive reading or some other learning methods.
3- Acknowledged work
Since IDF is well known as a reliable educational resource, this can enhance your career opportunity when receiving certifcates of the courses you complete successfully. Here is an example of one of my certificates (:
Finally, I would like to share three tips for how to stay focused while learning online
1- Associate learning with fun. For example if you work long hours on something, take a break by leaning something online. I found that this strategy made me feel excited every time I log in to IDF as it has been associated in my brain with breaks, fun, rest and excitement.
2- Allocate time for online learning in your calendar. Don’t just keep it in your ‘may-be’ to do list. This will help your brain associate learning with important tasks to be checked every day.
3- Share your learning with others.
Whether it is the network within the platform (such as IDF community
) or your colleagues, friends, or your students if you happen to be a teacher, or even your followers on your blog or social media . I found that this strategy is very effective to provide a solid motivation to learn actively in order to be able to pass the knowledge to others.
For any questions about my personal experience and reflection on IDF or the field of HCI please do not hesitate to contact me. Happy learning!