2. Turn the curated curriculum to your advantage
Whether it’s in high school, at an Ivy League college, or online, all course-based education involves reading and studying material that you could in principle find yourself on the web or in a library. However, part of the value that these educators offer is to have curated that content for you, into a format that facilitates your learning, within a given timeframe, and at an appropriate level of difficulty.
Our short courses include high-quality materials that have been selected, adapted, and sequenced by our team of expert educators, mentors, and designers. Our aim is that these materials will allow you to get to the heart of what you need to learn and quickly and efficiently as possible.
Each of our short courses uses curated content to put you on a logical and manageable trajectory through design basics. You can turn this to your advantage by engaging thoroughly with these materials, taking detailed notes on each topic, and noting any questions or areas of difficulty for discussion with your mentor later.
3. Maximize the time you have with your mentor
The core of our educational model at Designlab is pairing each student 1-on-1 with a professional designer, who works with the students as their mentor for the duration of the course. When you sign up to one of your short courses, you are buying 4 hours of your mentor’s time for 1-on-1 video calls, as well as their written feedback on all your project submissions.
To get the most out of the time your have with your mentor, it’s important to fully prepare for each call. Think in advance about questions you’d like to ask about the curriculum, make sure you have project work submitted and ready to discuss, and note down any broader queries you have about working in the design industry, or what your options are to continue your design learning after the end of the course. Our mentors are there to help you, but you also need to put in the effort to get the best results.
We have rigorous processes for assessing new mentors and monitoring mentor performance. However, if for any reason you feel like your mentor experience isn’t working out, just drop us an email any time during the course and we can switch you to another mentor if necessary.
4. Get involved in the community
Each short course has its own discussion board, where you can ask questions of mentors and fellow students. This can be especially helpful on UX-related short courses, in order to share ideas and recruit participants for testing.
The platform also has an “Explore” feature, which allows you to get inspiration by browsing other student submissions, and even dive into the mentor comments to get ideas on how to develop and iterate your own work.
5. Iterate on projects repeatedly in response to feedback
Applying your new learning in a project is one thing. But getting feedback from your mentor and fellow students on that work, then going through 2 or 3 cycles of iteration to develop and improve each project, will significantly add to what you learn. Doing so will also consolidate your new knowledge, and help you to convert it into practical skills that you can continue to use and develop once the course is over.
By iterating on each project, you will improve more quickly – and you might even be able to include the end product in a design portfolio. Because the Designlab platform saves all your previous versions, you can also look back through all of your uploads and see how your work has developed, not just through a single project, but from the beginning to the end of the course. You might be surprised at how far you’ve come!
Check out this article to read more about why we believe projects help you to learn design.
If you’re taking one of our short courses soon, we hope this short guide has offered some insight into how you can stay on track, and get the most value from the investment you’ve made in your skills. If you’ve not yet signed up, why not check out what’s on offer?