Introduction to Human-Centered Design

Learn from to use human-centered design for social innovation

Course Details

  • Price: FREE
  • Start Date: April 14, 2020
  • Time: 4 hours/week
  • Duration: 9 weeks
  • Partner:

What You’ll Learn:

  • Master the 4 steps of the human-centered design process to create innovative solutions to real-world challenges
  • Build an effective interview guide to learn and document your user research
  • Gain strategies for synthesizing your user research and identifying opportunities for design
  • Practice creative techniques to build rapid prototypes and make your ideas come to life
  • Learn to effectively test your prototypes with real users and identify promising solutions to begin implementing


Human-centered design (HCD) is a creative approach to problem solving pioneered by the design firm IDEO.

This is an intensive, hands-on learning experience that will challenge you to get out of your chair and out into the real world to talk to people and test your ideas. You’ll leave this experience equipped and energized to apply the human-centered design process to challenges across industries, sectors, and geographies to generate breakthrough ideas.

Format and Timing:

  • Team-Based Course: We strongly encourage (but do not require) that you form a team of 2-8 people to take the course with. It works best to find friends or coworkers who can meet in person. Need to find team members? You can post to the discussion forums a month before the course starts.
  • Platform: NovoEd (+Acumen developed the course. We host this course on the NovoEd platform.)
  • Timing: This course will be open for 9 weeks. You can work through the materials at your own pace during the time the course is open. There are no required times for you to log in. There will be suggested deadlines for you to complete each assignment. The final deadline is the final day of the course.

Course Syllabus

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  • 5 reading guides
  • 5 workshop guides to structure your own human-centered design project
  • 7 videos featuring Tim Brown, David Kelley, Patrice Martin of IDEO, and more
  • Supplemental resources
Section 1: Introduction to Human-Centered Design
  • Introduction and the Beginner’s Mind
  • Icebreaker: Visual Telephone
  • Discussion: Introduction to Human-Centered Design
  • Activity: Mini Design Challenge to Design a Better Commute
Section 2: Inspiration Phase
  • Activity: Choose Your Design Challenge
  • Discussion: Team Knowledge and Key Assumptions
  • Activity: Plan Your Research
  • Activity: Build an Interview Guide
  • Activity: Conduct Your Research
Section 3: Ideation Phase
  • Discussion: Share Stories and Learnings from User Research
  • Activity: Cluster Insights into Themes
  • Activity: Create Insights Statements
  • Activity: Create ‘How Might We’ Questions
Section 4: Prototyping Phase
  • Activity: Brainstorm
  • Activity: Select Your Best Ideas
  • Activity: Gut Check
  • Activity: Create a Storyboard
  • Discussion: Determine What to Prototype
  • Activity: Start Prototyping
  • Activity: Test Your Prototype and Get Feedback
Section 5: Implementation Phase
  • Activity: Create an Action Plan
  • Activity: Create a Pitch
  • Activity: Share Your Solution
  • Reflection
  • Discussion: Moving Forward
The course already started. Can I still enroll?
You can enroll up to 2 weeks after the start date of the course.
When will the next course be offered?
We offer our courses a few times a year. Sign up for our emails to be notified of the next time the course will be offered.
Do I get a certificate for this course?
You will earn a Statement of Accomplishment if you complete 5 of 6 assignments, including the final assignment, by the last day of the course.
How do teams work?
We recommend you find friends or colleagues for your team that you can meet with in person each week. Each team member should register for the course individually. You’ll then be able to form your team on the NovoEd platform once the course begins.
Do I have to complete the course with a team?
While we believe taking the course with a team will give you the best experience and chance of completing the course, it is possible to complete the course individually if you wish.
What should I expect from the assignments?
You will create a Life Map, develop your own personal story, integrate it into a larger presentation, and record your presentation for feedback from your classmates. You should allocate at least one hour a week to complete each assignment.

Supported By is the nonprofit arm of the world-renowned design firm, IDEO.  They design products, services, and experiences to improve the lives of people in poor and vulnerable communities. They are experts in human-centered design, a creative approach to problem solving.

What People Are Saying

Veronica Polinedrio, Co-Founder of the Welcome Card

"The course has been extremely engaging and informative, and [we] were enthusiastic at the end of the course for the new knowledge and inspiring examples that the online community proposed."

Veronica Polinedrio, Co-Founder of the Welcome Card