Revamped curriculum, Career Services, Group Crits: today, we’re pushing the button on a *huge* update of UX Academy.
UX Academy first launched in late 2015 as an experiment — to see if the Designlab online platform, which we’d pioneered for short courses like Design 101, could be extended to train full-time designers. Just 18 months later, the experiment has been a resounding success — with huge value delivered to students, and many graduates landing a UX design job within six months of completing the course.
In that time, we’ve gathered ongoing feedback from students, mentors, and alumni, and we’ve made a number of improvements and additions to the program that we haven’t publicly announced yet. Over the past six months, our in-house design and development teams have worked with education & design experts to complete a comprehensive review and update of the program. Read on to find out more!
The core of our mission is delivering extreme value to students with detailed, outcome-driven coursework. So in late 2016, we approached some third-party design experts to conduct an independent audit of our UX Academy curriculum. The primary question: how could we make the program even more rigorous in training students for entry-level product and UX design roles?
The extensive research process included an audit of UX/UI design job postings, interviews with recent program alumni, a review of student work in the course, an appraisal of our internal product roadmap, and a comprehensive review of existing program curriculum. As you’d imagine, this yielded some deep insight into potential improvements with our coursework, mentorship, and student community.
Here’s just a teaser of those findings, with curriculum updates we’re excited to announce today:
- Reinforcing professional skills from day one. Students will continually learn about the connection between UX design and product development, and develop the competency to excel in in-house design roles. We’re adding new course modules, and increasing the focus on visual & UI design
- Increasing student competence in core skills. We’re doing this by introducing objective project assessments within the platform, adding mid-course “checkpoints” to make sure students are progressing towards their goal of attaining an entry-level design role, and solidifying expectations and language with mentors and students to guide course-wide critique and feedback
- Updated Capstone projects. We’re increasing the number of Capstones, and focusing student choices to reflect the kind of projects that would be expected in in-house roles
In short: students will be better prepared for UX/UI/product design roles, and we’re building better tools as a platform to help our mentors support student growth and ensure progress.
“Will I get a job at the end of it?” is the question we hear most often from prospective students enquiring about the course. That's why we're introducing a new feature to Phase 2 of UX Academy — Career Services.
It’s designed to help students transition into employment after completion. Each student is assigned their own Career Coach, who works with them to polish up their portfolio, shape job applications, and improve interview technique. As showcased in our success stories, many students completing UX Academy already land a UX design job within 6 months — and with this update, we plan to build on that success.
You can read more about how Career Services works in our detailed product update.
Group Crits and Slack
In addition to these announcements on curriculum and careers, we’re also formalising some product features that evolved during UX Academy’s first 18 months.
The first is Group Crits. Facilitated by advanced students or UX Academy graduates via Google Hangouts, these weekly sessions provide the opportunity for students to present work and get critique and feedback from fellow students. Group Crits help students learn how to think and communicate like designers, not just create design deliverables — a key part of our program outcome. And of course, it’s fun to meet fellow students and build lasting relationships.
The other is Slack, a collaboration tool for teams. It’s a place where UXA students and mentors share learning both within and between cohorts, using themed channels and group discussions. Crucial to the value of Slack is the role played by Student Advocates, who are advanced students or graduates assigned to each cohort. They are available to answer your questions and escalate issues to Designlab staff.
UX Academy: empowering you to do the work you love
With these updates, UX Academy isn’t just a place to gain technical design competence through a rigorous, relevant curriculum. It’s also a community experience that fosters soft skills, and is ultimately a portal to a new career. Priced at just $5,999, we’re also proud to offer unprecedented value to students.