Aalto University: Open online design course launched for non-designers

In quickly changing environments, we need to power through poorly defined problems, make ideas tangible and work across silos to get tasks done.

What can help with that? Design.

Aalto University – a global pioneer in transdisciplinary education based on challenge-based and experimental learning – has launched a free online course called Design Bits to put concrete tools into more hands around the world.

‘Design Bits is a great way of learning how to learn in untraditional ways: through exploration, experimentation and failure. With this course, we want to make sure great ideas will be pursued with access to basic creative working skills,’ says Riikka Mäkikoskela, Head of Radical Creativity at Aalto University.

The team behind the introduction course aim to demystify design and how its tools and processes work, and challenge the common assumption that design is largely about aesthetics.

‘The course has received excellent feedback from students, and the most common comment was that participants were surprised that design is not only about visuals, but a creative problem-solving activity and a tool to clarify complex issues,’ explains one of the course developers, Aalto University’s Designer in Residence Paulo Dziobczenski.

Mainly aimed at university students, Design Bits could prove useful for anyone with a curious mindset and willingness to learn.

Why everyone should know about design?
Design is an ongoing professional practice, and even the most accomplished designers continue to develop their skills and expertise throughout their lives. Becoming a design professional takes years—but it has to begin somewhere.

Design Bits is rooted in Aalto’s design research, ranked highly internationally. The course introduces four essential pillars of design today: sustainability, collaboration, innovation, and management. Through hands-on activities and reflections at the end of each chapter, students get a taste of some widely-used design tools and receive guidance on how to think like a designer.

The two-credit course takes 30–40 hours to complete, depending on how much additional reading students choose to do. The course belongs to Aalto’s University-Wide Art Studies (UWAS).

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