Gateway to University Honors is a course that introduces incoming honors students at UC to everything in the honors program. This course showed me what was needed to stay in the program and how I can maximize my growth and learning during my time in college. The part I enjoyed most about the class was the diversity of students; I heard so many interesting stories and met so many aspiring academics.
Throughout this semester, I have gained an understanding of the reflection process and how important it is to growth. Also, by created a learning portfolio (this site, which branched out into a more comprehensive look on my college career) I got a chance to organize and display my learning, have a medium for reflection, and apply the concepts of experiential learning to individual interests.
I have always had a passion to fix people’s problems or help someone in need. I love being able to take someone who is overwhelmed and be able to fix their problems so that they don’t worry anymore. The feeling is especially rewarding if the solution to the problem was something quite miniscule and the person was simply worrying too much. People always assume the solution to a problem should needs to be as big as the problem, when in reality sometimes the biggest problems have the easiest fixes. It is something very impressive to people and I love being able to amaze. Making a good impression on someone is generally hard, but when you fix someone’s problem they remember that and they even exult you to their friends; it’s a great way to get known and a good thing to be known for. Another benefit of helping people is that people generally return the favor, so when I need something, I now have people I can rely on to help me.
I first recognized I really enjoyed helping people and fixing their problems when I fixed a family friend’s computer. She was so worried and didn’t have much hope for it; most people have a needless fear of technology. The solution was simple enough and I wasn’t expecting her to appreciate it so much. I loved that feeling so much that pretty soon I became known among my parents’ friends for fixing computers. It is actually so simple, with a little bit of confidence, Google, and a couple descriptive key words you can solve almost every problem (and this doesn’t just apply to computers). When I started tutoring at the Math Lab and at AMIS (a Cincinnati Public school for multilingual immersion) I felt the same feeling that I did when I was fixing computers. Being able to help students overcome academic troubles was a great feeling. Sometimes you could just see students come in, stressed out about an upcoming assignment or homework, and by the end, after answering all their questions, they would leave breathing a little easier.
Now, my goal is to one day be able to help people in the ultimate way, by bettering their way of life. I want to become a doctor and work to relieve people of their medical problems. I will start volunteering at Good Samaritan hospital soon, where I will get to interact directly with patients and I really look forward to that. I also would like to shadow more doctors. Currently I have started doing biochemical research and I hope that will one day have benefits to humankind; there is a good chance our work will be published soon. I still want to continue doing the things that I love, such as my computer hobby and tutoring, but I also want to do other things. For one, I really want to go to LeaderShape this winter, because I think that in order to help people better, I recognize that I need to work on my leadership skills. I also want to continue learning Spanish, because the better I can communicate with people the more I can do to help. This will be especially important because I want to work in medically underrepresented areas and serve minorities as a doctor in the future.
A Reflection on Personal Passions
I take some time to explore and reflect upon something I am passionate about. I evaluate what this passion is, what I have done to support this passion, and what I will do in the future to fulfill this passion. This is to help me visualize and put into perspective what I hope to accomplish during my time at UC.
Full Name: Ismail Gunacar
UC Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
College: McMicken A&S
Title of Project: Designing Modern and Engaging User Interface/User Experience (UI/UX) in web apps
Thematic Area (choose only one): Creative Arts
Expected Project Start Date: Dec 12, 2014
Expected Project End Date: Dec 26, 2014
Web design has always been a hobby of mine. It combines a couple of my passions, helping people, educating people, and computers, to create something that can change how people interact with information on the web; further it is an artistic outlet for me. The first thing we see when we are presented with a piece of information is the colors and layout, even before reading the text; this is called “front-end” design. Good front-end design can simplify taking in new information and can even make a person who may not be initially interested in the content be more engaged in what they are reading. I have come to a decent level of skill in this area of web design. I have a portfolio of some of my web design work on my learning portfolio. The pages I have designed so far have been static or “read-only”, with the only purpose of displaying set content for visitors. These kinds of sites don’t require much “back-end” or “behind the scenes” work, nor do they require any user input.
In order to take my skills in design to the next level, I want to create a non-static website that is interactive and will respond to user input, without sacrificing the quality of user experience and interface. These websites may be more easily recognized by terms such as “social media” or “web apps”, such as Facebook, Reddit, cPanel, etc; it is these websites that can connect a large volume of user input and organize it in a way that is engaging and comprehendible or as a medium to accomplish a goal. Instead of visitors coming to read content, they need to create input thus creating a “read-and-write” environment.
Connection to Learning Outcomes
Although I am self-taught, I feel I already have a pretty good understanding of modern front-end web design of static pages. One of the biggest learning outcome that I plan to target with this experience is “Acquires or further develops competencies within a particular creative domain” because I am aiming to take a skill that I already have and develop it further in order to apply it in a different context. Although both forms of website have similar characteristics, designing a website that is easy to use and interactive with users is completely different than designing a website that displays static text.
Also, in order to build this new site in a successful way, I need to have an understanding of user interfacing principles and theories of design. This is why another learning outcome that I hope to achieve through this experience is “Possess a well-developed awareness of theories and methods in the field”. By learning being aware of how a user interacts with the website, and what is going on “behind the scenes” on the server that is processing user data, I hope to be able to successfully link them together. With a good understanding of usability and the code behind it, I hope to make a user experience that is intuitive and seamless.
This project, although in the creative arts thematic area, has a very big analytical side to it as well. I will be writing a lot of code or “logic” for the server to process user data. To do this I need to have a good definition of what I would like the program to do and the steps to achieve that. I will also have to watch out for any complications in the design and create intuitive and simple ways to achieve what may otherwise be daunting tasks. This means I will be targeting the learning outcome of “Possesses ability to define to define the creative problem; ability to frame and develop a problem statement and appropriate methodology” because I will be approaching this project as one to be solved rationally and with logic. By keeping intuitiveness in my code and in my design, I hope to be able to solve the problem in a simple way.
Connection to Goals and Academic Theories
A. This project will greatly help my personal and professional development. Firstly, web development is a very big hobby of mine; I am always eager to learn more and experience new aspects of web design. A big personal dream of mine is to develop a website or a web app that is used by people frequently. Learning to build a dynamic website that can process user input is the next step for me in understanding user experience. Secondly, web development is what builds the rapidly growing World Wide Web, and due to this, skilled web developers and designers are highly sought after. I have already made money as a part time web developer and broadening my horizons in the industry will only make me a more attractive web professional.
B. Unlike other fields such chemistry or biology, journal-published articles aren’t the best source of information in web development. This is simply due to the stunningly fast evolution of web design and the internet. Generally, the best information comes from experienced web developers who run blogs or post tutorial or informational sets, explaining a variety of topics from basic coding to design trends to search engine optimization and web marketing. The most helpful means of information will be YouTube videos, informative blog posts, or walk-throughs. There are many great resources for style and UX guidelines, such as Google’s new Material Design style guide and various web frameworks such as Twitter’s Bootstrap and Zurb’s Foundation. These documentations of user interface provide solid theories of design and are a product of large investments in user experience research by well-known companies such as Twitter and Google. Surely, it is my job as a designer to take inspiration from these and spin them into truly unique elements.
As a sharp contrast to my view on web development, I have come across a journal article titled “Web Engineering: A New Discipline for Development of Web-Based Systems” by Murugesan, et al. As one would expect of a reviewed-journal entry, this article seems to be a very analytical approach to the subject at hand. This will be very useful because it is important to see analytics in art. Murugesan et al describe a systematic approach to web development, called “Web Engineering” in order to better quality control and assurance of web-based projects.
- Material Design Style Guide by Google
- Foudation Framework by Zurb
- Bootstrap Framework by Twitter
- “Web Engineering: a New Discipline for Development of Web-Based Systems” by San Murugesan, Yogesh Deshpande, Steve Hansen, Athula Ginige, Lecture Notes in Computer Science Volume 2016, 2001, pp 3-13
Initiative, Independence, and/or Creativity
This project requires an extensive amount of initiative, independence, and creativity on my part. I will be mostly working alone and thus as the sole contributor to the project, I can be very independent in my choices. Surely, I can and most likely will be seeking advice and critiques from various online forums and communities, such as Stack Overflow and Reddit. The initiative was completely my responsibility as well, as this project is not required of me by any external force, I simply want to do it to broaden my horizons. I will be taking a huge step in starting a project like this without strict guidelines or a rubric. The nature of this project, both in its independence, allows me to be extremely creative with it as well. Design, especially that of a virtual product, is almost limitless. Unlike designing a real-life object, I can create almost anything on my computer and it will take a lot of creativity to create a UX design truly intuitive and seamless.
Aside from writing the mandatory reflection essay at the end of the project, I will be reflecting primarily though a means of a series of short blog posts or journals, which will be posted to my website (which originated from my learning portfolio). These short journals will be a record of my thoughts on the direction of the project as I progress, because, even now, the details of the product are still loose. I will also include important screen caps of posts/discussions that I had in forums or helpful tutorials that guided me through roadblocks. I will also make short tutorials of concepts which I feel comfortable, as teaching is a great way to learn. To sum it all up, I will be explaining and reviewing my code and design in a final video, in which I will take a “behind the scenes” or a “director’s cut” of the choices I made, why I did so, and how it changed my understanding of UX/UI design.
I will be posting unique or interesting sections of code that I come up with to a web development sandbox called Codepen. Codepen is a platform for web developers to share interesting parts of their code in a way that is simple to digest. This community is just one of the many among the Internet that I get inspiration from when I code. I currently have a few posts on Codepen of UI elements such as flipping or expanding icon buttons, and sliding navigation bars, and I hope to increase my contribution to the community through this project by directly sharing parts of my work.
Further, of the many online communities I follow, I know that there is always a heavy influx of beginners that don’t know what direction to go in. I hope to post my experiences and my path to growth on to some of these sites as I know it would answer a lot of questions. The final video will be a very good tool to show less experienced members of our developer communities the thought process behind big projects such as these. The short tutorials I make will also surely be greatly appreciated by the community.
Finally, if the final product is successful, it could gain a lot of popularity and develop a large user base. If this is the case, it would be very easy to attract and share my learning, because everyone will love to know how a successful project started off.
I will be working mostly by myself, but at times of hardship, I will be referring to Dr. Said for help. He is a IT professor with experience in social media and teaches some honors seminars.
After the site is finished, I will need to register a domain name and find a web host to host my website so that people around the world can access it. Because the website will have a good amount of server-side processing, a decent plan will cost about $110 (including a domain name) for the first year. After this amount of time, I can decide if the project is worth keeping and invest in it or if the idea should be scrapped all together.
Mock Honors Experiential Learning Proposal
In order to get a better understanding of the self-designed honors experience system, we were required to write a mock proposal. I wrote mine on a long time project that I have wanted to start, which is designing a website that responds to user input and stores data. I plan to tweak this proposal and eventually submit it for review as an actual honors experience in the future.