New Design Thinking Crash Course with Udemy

We’re thrilled to announce Cooper’s newest online course, Cooper Crash Course: Design Thinking in 3 Steps, available on Udemy.

Not only is this a rich, practical course that spreads the goodness of design thinking and Cooper across the world, it also gave us the opportunity to tackle some interesting challenges in terms of format.

How do you translate practical, hands-on workshops to an online environment?

Cooper offers a world-class learning experience in the workshops we offer publicly and privately. One of the reasons Cooper classes are so effective is that they are highly application-focused. We don’t just discuss the theory of design—we quickly get to how to do it, with lots of practice. As Teresa Brazen says in the course, “Design thinking is nothing without design doing.”

So when we built Cooper Crash Course: Design Thinking in 3 Steps, we knew it was critical to have students take a real project from start to finish, doing the work that would have them practice the skills of Goal-Directed Design.


We also offer significant coaching, feedback and reflection in our in-person workshops. In distance learning, we’re not there to offer coaching, so we built in self-reflection videos throughout the course to help students evaluate their new skills, and then think about how they can apply what they learned to their own life and work.

How do we keep students motivated?

It’s no secret that MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) are only having limited success. The majority of students who start an online course never finish it. Given the competition for attention in today’s world, how do we keep our students motivated to come back and keep learning?

The Learning Experience

Like any good design, it becomes a question of what you take out rather than how much you can cram in. If we had made the course big and bloated, our students wouldn’t have the kind of delightful experience we design for our clients. So we trimmed, finessed, and trimmed again—striking a balance between creating deep learning without making the learning experience arduous.

How to maintain the social aspect of design?

Cooper pioneered the practice of pair design. And in our every one of our classrooms, students work on projects in small groups. A big source of creativity comes from the collision of minds and the diverse perspectives those minds bring. Magic happens when one mind re-interprets or misinterprets the idea of another—frequently, an innovation is born. 

So how do you recreate this in an asynchronous online course?

We invited participants to take the course in small groups and do the project together. We really hope students take our advice here—they’ll get a lot out of the class by working with a small group of engaged teammates.

We also built in a lot of user research. If individual students don’t have the collision of minds from collaborators, we wanted them to get inspiration from the outside world, creating a new set of ideas to collide with the thoughts in their own minds.

How do we create a course that feels like Cooper?

Cooper is a special place—the most highly-collaborative environment I’ve had the pleasure to work in. Students feel the magic in the air when they attend our workshops in our San Francisco and New York offices. So we asked ourselves, how could we bring the magic of Cooper to our students in India or Chile?

I’m happy to share that this course is truly an all-of-Cooper creation. Teresa Brazen and Sanskriti Ayyar teach the majority of the course. Alan Cooper teaches some of the lectures, offering his perspective on each of the key phases of the design thinking process. Every Cooperista contributed to it, and everyone said YES! when I asked for help. 

Design thinking can create this kind of rich, deeply collaborative culture, and the individuals and teams who take this course and bring design thinking to their work are in for a treat.

We are excited to spread design to more places beyond our classrooms in New York, San Francisco and the workplaces of our organizational training clients. Go forth and create!

Teresa and Alan
Holly Thorsen
Holly Thorsen

Holly Thorsen is a Director at Cooper Professional Education and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach.

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