In my freshmen year, I was afraid to code.
It was later discovered that the real secret behind my own fear is my own mindset and a good mentor. If it wasn’t my mentor who pushed me through those fears, my other programming classes wouldn’t have been as easy.
The difference between mentors and instructors is that instructors tell you what to do, but mentors guide you to your own goals. During an exchange program at Stanford University, I was fortunate enough to meet the founder of Asian Leadership Academy, a social enterprise for education reform. I was asked to design a wallet for my partner. In under 30 minutes, my prototype based on listening to his stories, empathy, and feedbacks assuaged my partner’s needs. This consecutive processes were introduced to me as ‘design thinking’ or human-centered design. The concept was further elaborated in a class called Human-Computer Interaction by professor Scott Klemmer. After both lectures, it was clear that the only way I can accomplish my project with catharsis is to understand my users’ needs.
Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) combines the aspect of human behavior in a psychological perspective with the concept of computation algorithm design to create a virtual user experience. My true intention is to explore deeper insights into the concept of design thinking and algorithmic design in order to support Thai education.
The problem with Thai education is not the established curriculum, but the exposure to an optimistic mindset that is lacking. There are many students in Thailand who are afraid to go beyond their abilities no matter in math, language, or even programming, like I once did. But not everyone are fortunate enough to have approached ingenious mentors like mine.
Learning HCI helped me prepare myself for a long term goal; expand franchise of mentors by exposing the educational reforming tool from ALA to a sustainable user interaction experience. The purpose of this tool is to expose Thai teachers to a structural mindset with the concept of design thinking in order to approach local problems with student-centered solutions. It aims to turn teachers into mentors, who not only provide knowledge in class but also mentor students to achieve their own goals. I believe that every student’s success comes from their mentor. As an active mentor and UX designer at Asian Leadership Academy, I hope to create and sustain this automated tool to influence Thai education as a whole.