Free: A Crash Course in Design Thinking from Stanford’s Design School

If you ask a few of today’s young­sters what they want to do when they grow up, the word “design” will almost cer­tain­ly come up more than once. Ask them what design itself means to them, and you’ll get a vari­ety of answers from the vague­ly gen­er­al to the ultra-spe­cial­ized. The con­cept of design — and of design­ing, and of being a design­er — clear­ly holds a strong appeal, but how to define it in a use­ful way that still applies in as many cas­es as pos­si­ble?

One set of answers comes from the 90-minute “Crash Course in Design Think­ing” above, a pro­duc­tion of Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty’s Has­so Plat­tner Insti­tute of Design, or d.schoolThe Inter­ac­tion Design Foun­da­tion defines design think­ing as “an iter­a­tive process in which we seek to under­stand the user, chal­lenge assump­tions we might have, and rede­fine prob­lems in an attempt to iden­ti­fy alter­na­tive strate­gies and solu­tions that might not be instant­ly appar­ent with our ini­tial lev­el of under­stand­ing.” In a brief his­to­ry of the sub­ject there, Rikke Dam and Teo Siang write that “busi­ness ana­lysts, engi­neers, sci­en­tists and cre­ative indi­vid­u­als have been focused on the meth­ods and process­es of inno­va­tion for decades.”

Stan­ford comes into the pic­ture in the ear­ly 1990s, with the for­ma­tion of the Design Think­ing-ori­ent­ed firm IDEO and its ” design process mod­elled on the work devel­oped at the Stan­ford Design School.” In oth­er words, some­one using design think­ing, on the job at IDEO or else­where, knows how to approach new, vague, or oth­er­wise tricky prob­lems in var­i­ous sec­tors and work step-by-step toward solu­tions., with their mis­sion to “build on meth­ods from across the field of design to cre­ate learn­ing expe­ri­ences that help peo­ple unlock their cre­ative poten­tial and apply it to the world,” aims to instill the prin­ci­ples of design think­ing in its stu­dents. And this crash course, through an activ­i­ty called “The Gift-Giv­ing Project,” offers a glimpse of how they do it.

You can just watch the video and get a sense of the “design cycle” as teach­es it, or you can get hands-on by assem­bling the sim­ple required mate­ri­als and a group of your fel­low design enthu­si­asts (make sure you add up to an even num­ber). Young­ster or oth­er­wise, you may well emerge from the expe­ri­ence, a mere hour and a half lat­er, with not just new prob­lem-solv­ing habits of mind but a new­found zeal for design, how­ev­er you define it.

“Crash Course in Design Think­ing” will be added to our col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties. You can find a num­ber of MOOCS on design think­ing and design at Cours­era.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load 20 Free eBooks on Design from O’Reilly Media

Saul Bass’ Advice for Design­ers: Make Some­thing Beau­ti­ful and Don’t Wor­ry About the Mon­ey

Bauhaus, Mod­ernism & Oth­er Design Move­ments Explained by New Ani­mat­ed Video Series

Mil­ton Glaser’s 10 Rules for Life & Work: The Cel­e­brat­ed Design­er Dis­pens­es Wis­dom Gained Over His Long Life & Career

Abstract: Netflix’s New Doc­u­men­tary Series About “the Art of Design” Pre­mieres Today

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Comments (6)
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  • Mercedes says:

    Where is the link to down­load “the gift giv­ing expe­ri­ence” print­out they men­tion in the video?

  • Marc says:

    It’s a great idea to have a basic intro­duc­to­ry class on design think­ing, but the one from Stan­ford falls short and offers lit­tle insight on the process.

    1) The sup­port doc­u­ments are nowhere to be found on the Vimeo page or on a Stan­ford page that is linked to from the Vimeo page (the “the gift giv­ing expe­ri­ence” print­out)

    2) The course is designed to be watched by an even-num­bered group of peo­ple, and much of the ‘course’ is one per­son inter­view­ing anoth­er and vice ver­sa,

    3) Most of the course’s video is timers run­ning on the screen while the par­tic­i­pants inter­view each oth­er or draw pic­tures of their ideas.

    4) The pre­sen­ters offer lit­tle com­men­tary on the work that the class has done — i.e., no read­ing of inter­view results, no shar­ing of draw­ings. Their involve­ment after the intro­duc­tion is essen­tial­ly giv­ing instruc­tions to the class (“OK, now B inter­view A for 5 min­utes”).

    If you are watch­ing alone and want to get the ben­e­fits of the course in under 10 min­utes, I sug­gest that you watch until the first timer starts (a few min­utes into the video) and then skip to 1:14:00 for their 5 minute wrap-up. Or look for video or arti­cle about design think­ing.

  • Marc says:

    I have an update to my com­ment above:

    I recent­ly read “Cre­ative Con­fi­dence” by Tom and David Kel­ley, two of the founders of IDEO and one of the founders of the After read­ing the book — which I rec­om­mend to any­one who wants to become more cre­ative and/or make inno­va­tion part of their cor­po­rate cul­ture — I went to the web­site. I found the Crash Course described in this post, and the sup­ple­men­tal mate­ri­als are still not sup­plied on that page.

    How­ev­er, when I clicked the “How to kick off a crash course” link ( ), I found the mate­ri­als that were intend­ed for the video! On the right side of the screen you’ll find down­load­able work­sheets and oth­er use­ful mate­ri­als (“D.GIFT WORKSHEETS”, etc.). These mate­ri­als make the video far more inter­est­ing.

  • Tripti Dubey says:

    Thank you for the edu­ca­tion through this video. May I request you to please let me know where to down­load the expe­ri­ence cer­tifi­cate from? Thank you again.

  • Amit Sharma says:

    Thanks for shar­ing such beau­ti­ful infor­ma­tion with us . I hope you will share some more infor­ma­tion in future .Please keep shar­ing.

  • Christinah says:

    Wow! Design think­ing it gives you, imme­di­ate feed­back which will help you to fast for­ward your inno­va­tion with a speed, thank you for this edu­ca­tion.

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