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The Teacher's Guide to How to Make Sense of Any Mess

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The Sensemakers Club with Information Architect Abby Covert

Do your students need to learn how to make sense?


Information architecture
(IA) is the way we arrange the parts of something to make sense of it as a whole. Many teachers and practicing professionals agree that IA is a timeless skill that today’s students could use guidance in.

About the Teacher's Guide

The Teacher’s Guide to How to Make Sense of Any Mess is a collection of modular lessons, activities, discussion prompts, and assignments ready to be integrated into your existing course materials.

This guide was designed to help teachers like you build the insights, takeaways, and tools from How to Make Sense of Any Mess, a free online beginner’s guide to information architecture, into your students’ coursework.

The Sensemakers Club with Information Architect Abby Covert

Most Students Need IA Skills

In various courses of study, teaching information architecture skills can help students learn to make things that make sense.

To meet the needs of the widest variety of teachers coming from a long, diverse list of specialties, each chapter of The Teacher’s Guide to How to Make Sense of Any Mess includes self-contained lessons, activities, and assignments you can integrate into your coursework without knowledge of the rest of the book.

Here are some of the information architecture tasks your students do all the time:

  • Attempt to make unclear things clear to an intended audience
  • Decide on labels and the contextual meaning of those labels
  • Choose and label groups
  • Create structures for content

Teachers talked; Abby listened.

This project was guided by a series of roundtable discussions with 30+ teachers who saw a clear need to teach information architecture to their students as a part of their existing courses.

Here are some of the findings from the roundtable conversations with teachers:

  • Information architecture as a specialty has fewer and fewer applications in the job market and therefore is seen, especially by younger students, as an old-fashioned way of working. Yet teachers still see student’s lack of knowledge of IA as one of the critical weaknesses in much of the student work that they review.
  • In order to teach IA, teachers have to teach deliverables as well as the practical skills that are needed to complete those deliverables. But to make students thoughtful about those deliverables, we also need to teach them theory and communication skills at a high enough level that it can apply to any job context they might end up in but at a low enough level to make them thoughtful enough to do good IA work.
  • Teachers across disciplines feel it is imperative they teach students how to think, because they won’t be incentivized to do so once they are in the workforce.

Teachers have found a need to teach information architecture concepts to support coursework in:

  • Communications
  • Content Design & Strategy
  • Data Architecture
  • Data Visualization & Analytics
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Interaction Design
  • Library Science
  • Product Design
  • Product Management
  • Systems Thinking
  • UX Design & Strategy
  • UX Writing

What’s Included

The Teacher’s Guide to How to Make Sense of Any Mess (PDF $49.99) is delivered electronically via Etsy. The original book’s content is included in its entirety along with new stories, frameworks, and tools building on each chapter’s core lessons, including reflection on what the author has learned in practice and teaching since the book was published.

Teachers who buy the guide also receive access to:

Lecture Slides

Google slide deck of 80+ slides presenting key lessons for each chapter – as well as formatted instructions for suggested in-class activities and homework assignments ready to present in the classroom.

Related Resources

Curated selection of free, accessible resources that students can use to dig deeper into the concepts the book introduces.

Self-Contained Lessons to Fit into Any Curriculum

To meet the needs of the widest variety of teachers coming from a long, diverse list of specialties, each chapter of The Teacher’s Guide to How to Make Sense of Any Mess includes self-contained lessons, activities, and assignments you can integrate into your coursework without knowledge of the rest of the book.

If your students are…
  • Unaware of the slippery nature of meaning, information, content, and truth, assign Chapter 1
  • Using language as a material but maybe don’t “get” that yetassign Chapter 2
  • Facing problems that require deeper explorationassign Chapter 3
  • Creating or proposing places for others to dwell either digitally or physicallyassign Chapter 4
  • In need of some hard truth around measurement and return on investmentassign Chapter 5
  • Creating or proposing structures that need an understanding of classificationassign Chapter 6
  • Struggling with perfectionism, “should storms”, and subjective realityassign Chapter 7
AVAILABLE NOW ON ETSY

The Teacher's Guide to How to Make Sense of Any Mess

This product is only available for purchase on Etsy. After purchasing, you will be electronically delivered a PDF linking to a LIVE Google Doc, sign-up form for joining the monthly meeting, as well as the slide deck.

Both may be copied so they can be customized for your lesson planning purposes.

Buy Now ($49.99 via Etsy)
MEET YOUR GUIDE

ABBY COVERT

Abby Covert is an information architect, writer and community organizer with two decades of experience helping people make sense of messes.  

The Sensemakers Club with Information Architect Abby Covert

Abby has written two popular books, How to Make Sense of Any Mess and Stuck? Diagrams Help. She currently spends her time making things that help you to make the unclear, clear, many of which she makes available for free on her website www.abbycovert.com or at accessible price points in her popular Etsy shop AbbytheIA.

In 2022 she started The Sensemakers Club where she brings together sensemakers from different walks of life to learn from one another. Abby currently lives and writes from Melbourne, Florida where her most important job title is ‘Mom’.

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