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Posted by on Jul 7, 2017

Sample Unit: User Personas

Software designers create detailed user personas to help them imagine and understand how different people might use solutions.

Imagine you are the designer of Instagram. You have to think about everyone from teenagers to grandparents to corporate advertisers using your software with different levels of intensity and with different purposes.

How do you manage these competing interests and goals? How do you even track them all?

One piece of the puzzle is to create a profile, almost like an FBI profiler going after a criminal. The user persona.

We’ll define user personas, walk through some active learning examples, then apply what we’ve learned to characters selected from your literature curriculum.

Oh yes: we’ll go from Instagram power user to Huck Finn. Or Scout. Or Juliet. Or Lenny, Piggy, or Catherine Earnshaw.

Unit Materials (shared via Google Drive):

  • Three, 40-minute classroom plans including presentation decks and classroom discussions
  • Three different user persona templates to help structure student work
  • Five reading assignments including discussion questions and instructor guide
  • Five videos to watch (average 15 minutes each) with corresponding discussion questions and instructor guide
  • Three assignment prompts with corresponding rubrics


  • Fun, authentic work for students that will get them researching and using tools like Google Slides/PowerPoint
  • Systematic evaluation of a software user and character from literature
  • Practicing empathy
  • Writing concise, evocative descriptions


  • Deeper discussion of profiling and the slippery slope to generalizations that can lead to bigotry

Interested in trying this unit in your class? Sign up for 11trees notifications and we’ll share you into the Google folder with all the goodies. And yes, of course we’re available for professional development to help you implement the unit or kick it off with your students and faculty.

Example user personas:

Have some fun cruising these detailed examples curated from the internet and real software development projects. Your students will create detailed documents just like these – for both software users and characters from the literature you are teaching. Click for a larger view.