A College-Level Curriculum for UX

Closing the gap between design education and the professional practice of making digital products.

zopilote.co
Feb 29, 2016 · 7 min read
Image for post
Image for post

The path to a career in UX isn’t clear

Many of today’s design college graduates aren’t equipped with the right combination of tools, processes, and experiences to successfully transition into user experience (“UX”) jobs in digital product design. While this isn’t a new phenomenon, its inadequacy hinders partnerships between engineering and product management that are critical for creating successful products in most organizations. We — a broad range of industries, a spectrum of companies, a community of passionate UX professionals — are looking for opportunities to change that.

  • Schools have varying strategies for developing new programs.
  • Innovation is often stalled by theoretical legacies and inter-departmental politics.
  • Develop an interest in products and focus on tinkering and making at an early age.
  • Start your career with an internship, at an agency, studio, or startup to get on-the-job training and mentoring.
Image for post
Image for post

Changing education is hard

The change that we’re proposing requires significant momentum to overcome the friction of politics, bureaucracy, and limited resourcing. It also requires a clear understanding of what exists today, what we think is needed for tomorrow, and a practical plan for getting there. Not all schools are in a position to explore this type of change, only those that offer the diversity of programs to augment, the organizational flexibility, and the leadership’s willingness to change.

Image for post
Image for post

Shaping a pilot curriculum

Initially, we audited the courses being offered across several of SCAD’s existing design programs. From there, we proposed a reconfiguration of courses resulting in a structure and sequence of what a UX design curriculum could look like. We took some of the user-centered research courses from Service Design along with some interaction design and technical platform courses from Interactive Design and Game Development, then we added some fundamental courses from Graphic Design, and so on. Finally, we introduced some new courses that are specifically calibrated to digital product design.

  • Design fundamentals such as typography, color, grid, composition, and various contextual considerations to explore and craft solutions.
  • Problem-solving and logic to prototype, test, shape and evolve products.
  • We need to apply what we learn to continue refining the curriculum.
  • We need to open-source, evangelize, and propagate the model.
Image for post
Image for post

Launch, learn, refine, and scale

When we set out on this path, we had an ambitious goal of influencing a change at SCAD intended to better prepare students to meet industry expectations. Using SCAD as a model, we now need to encourage other institutions to adopt their own interpretation of a program that better prepares their students. To do this, we need help from both companies and individuals.

  • Participate in educational design programs at the college level through portfolio reviews, classroom lectures, workshops, and sponsored projects.
  • Develop, Invest in, and refine internship programs to ensure that students are getting the best possible experiences that will allow them to mature more quickly through the transition from education to industry.
  • Talk to college and high school students to set career expectations and help them imagine what the first steps of their own career paths might look like.
  • Educate students on how a career in design can satisfy a sense of purpose through solving problems for people.
  • Inspire students to imagine a path for applying their creative passions and artistic talents — an outlet for exploring their intellectual curiosities.

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design.

Thanks to Jay Runquist, Jon Lax, and Daniel Burka

zopilote.co

Written by

Mike is a Design Manager in UX at Google where he focuses on fostering the design culture. Prior to Google, he was a co-founder of Cuban Council.

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google

zopilote.co

Written by

Mike is a Design Manager in UX at Google where he focuses on fostering the design culture. Prior to Google, he was a co-founder of Cuban Council.

Google Design

Stories by Googlers on the practice of design. For editorial content and more visit design.google

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store