Design Your Course

On this page, do the process to learn the process.

Start with this video from IDEO’S Design Kit, where we can see how the “empathize” stage encourages learning about others:

“In order to get to new solutions I have to get to know new people,” might be the linchpin soundbite in this video. While it feels a little corporate, this piece of the Design Kit offers a mindset model applicable to any situation where you find yourself creating for/with others. In the case of teaching writing, students fill that role.

Design Your Course: Think about your courses’s context (institution, syllabus, students, campus culture, departmental requirements) while you walk through any one or all of the following activities.


Source: Stanford d.school, “Design Thinking Bootleg.”


Replace the word “users” here with ‘students.” Who are they? What do they care about? Why will they be in your class?


Pre-course surveys could be a tool you use to learn specific information about your students before they enter class. Your “Beginner’s Mindset” may inform this questionnaire—seek to understand where your students are coming from, and what they offer to the class.


Sometimes you can’t rely on observing students you don’t yet have, or haven’t already had in your classes. But you can conduct research on context: What institution do you belong to? How does that impact the way students will engage in your course? Who takes your course? What do the students entering your course already know (i.e. does your course require a prerequisite? Is it a prerequisite?)

Knowing the context and audience (your class, institution, geographic area, etc.) can help you better provide what your students need.

Source: IDEO, “Design Kit: Secondary Research.”