Hi Harish! Can you run us through a typical day for your student?
Our online courses are designed to be flexible and part-time, so the typical Designlab student attends school or works full-time while taking a course. We’ve had students from more than 20 different countries, and our diverse alumni base includes developers, product managers, career-switchers who started in non-tech industries, and college & high school students.
We typically see students log on to Designlab at the end of their workdays. They spend about an hour per day on coursework, which includes reading and watching lectures about design theory, working on their latest design project and responding to mentor feedback via our platform, or interacting with their mentor over Skype. Our courses are made to be fun, hands-on experiences.
Is there a unique feature or distinct motivation for your bootcamp or teaching philosophy?
At Designlab, we're strong proponents of learning by doing. Especially in a field like design, there's only so much you can learn by watching videos or reading theory — at the end of the day, the only way to improve your skills is to repeatedly practice and hone your understanding through feedback and critique from a mentor. We built our online course platform from the ground up to best support this model of learning through hands-on work and mentorship from the best experts in the industry. The focus of every unit is a project that you upload to the site so that your mentor can leave timely, written feedback to help you improve. Unlike other mentor-driven online courses which may limit your mentor interaction to weekly catch-ups, on Designlab your mentor is with you every step of the way as you iterate and submit multiple versions of your work. This continuous online feedback is supplemented by multiple 1-on-1 video sessions on Skype with your mentor to dive deeper into the feedback and share valuable resources
We love the famous Ira Glass quote: “It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions.”
What backgrounds do you find your applicants usually coming from? Is there a particular kind of student or learning style that excels in your programs?
We've seen students from all kinds of backgrounds taking our courses, with a few common patterns:
• People currently in tech — developers, product managers, marketers, etc. who want to expand their skillset and add more value to the projects they're working on, since they realize that “design” is a big part of what they do on a day-to-day basis
• Graphic designers or creatives who have some exposure to web design, but want a more rigorous foundation so they can break into the UI/UX web and mobile design industry
• Career switchers who want to change their profession and move into a creative, fulfilling career
Above all, self-motivated students are the ones who succeed the most on Designlab — people who are able to manage their time well and put in the coursework, and who are willing to push themselves to grow in their craft!
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the online learning model and how did you overcome them?
The biggest issue that online learning faces is student motivation. Companies like Coursera are notorious for their low student retention numbers, because it's hard to get students to follow through and complete courses that they begin online — you're competing with Facebook and Buzzfeed for their attention, after all!
At a high level, our solution to this problem is our mentor-driven learning model. Each student on Designlab is matched up with a world-class design mentor who acts as their personal design coach during the course. Having someone who personally checks in on you, gives you feedback, and spends time Skyping with you is a powerful motivator to get you to complete your work, and we've seen impressive completion as a result of this dynamic.
What kind of roles, jobs, and/or companies do your programs ready your students for?
We offer a range of courses in the User Interface/User Experience field, aimed at anyone trying to improve their design and creative abilities. Our curriculum is designed to be flexible in order to meet the diverse needs of different kinds of students. To give just a few examples:
• A back-end developer trying to switch into a front-end role might take our Design 101 course to learn to make beautiful, well-designed products.
• Someone with no background in design, switching careers and trying to become a junior UX designer could take our 3-course UX track to prepare them for Junior UI/UX Designer jobs.
• A current designer might want to add to their skillset and learn more advanced skills, and can do so by taking our upcoming courses in Typography and Branding.
No matter your specific needs, our goal is to teach you valuable creative skills in the most flexible and affordable way.
What’s the best advice for students who want to attend your coding bootcamp?
Budget your time wisely when taking a course, and get ready to have a lot of fun!
Can you share a favorite teaching moment or the best student project you’ve seen?
One of our favorite stories was a back-end developer, Dalton, taking our Design 101 course, and deciding he wanted to move into UX Design as his career. Even after our course ended, he spent weeks designing his own personal logo and applying the design principles & process he learned to his work. We get really excited by seeing “the light” go on in people's minds as they realize the power of the creative skills they possess.
How do you see the learn to code movement and the bootcamp industry changing over the next one to five years? Where do you see these programs fitting into the larger picture of education?
These bootcamps and new schools are filling important gaps in the education space: traditional schools simply can't keep up with the constantly changing skills that today’s industries demand, let alone their lack of flexibility and affordability.. We see these alternative forms of education only growing in importance as more people seek careers in rapidly evolving industries; but, we could be slightly biased :)
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
If you've always wondered how to make your work look more “professional”, wonder no more! Take a shot with one of our design courses and you’ll be impressed by how much you improve in just a few weeks’ time. We offer a 100% money-back guarantee and a failsafe environment where you can practice & hone your new skills.