Join our Design In The Open Challenge!

Self-Paced Professional Development Course: Start today!

What is the focus of this Design in the Open challenge?

Our aim in offering this Design in the Open challenge is to help you cultivate your professional presence in your chosen field. We founded Designers for Learning, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, to give people the opportunity to gain experience while at the same time helping underserved educational needs. We firmly believe that landing a job (or “getting your foot in the door” with an employer) involves far more than assembling work examples you’ve created within a portfolio. It’s also necessary to openly engage in the field to share your work process. By working in the open, you develop your professional presence by giving others the opportunity to know your work product and how you work.

Within this self-paced course, you’ll network with others as you undertake short challenges geared toward establishing your professional presence. In designing this course, Jennifer Maddrell, the founder and Executive Director of Designers for Learning, considered the open work process she’s taken to develop as a professional in her chosen fields and asked others to share their perspectives and approaches to developing their professional presence, including:

  • Kristin Anthony, Learning Experience (LX) designer
  • Tonia Dousay, Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences at University of Idaho
  • Jeff Goumas, Founding Director, President at CrowdED Learning and a member of Designers for Learning’s board
  • Christy Tucker, Learning Design Consultant with Syniad Learning

Beyond taking the right coursework and knowing the latest tools and technologies, we believe it’s necessary to spend time (A LOT OF TIME) cultivating a professional presence within your chosen field. While it’s essential to present your work product in an attractive and welcoming format, this course isn’t about how to create an electronic portfolio of your work product. We’ll showcase examples and ideas for presenting your work as we go through the course, but our aim is to forward an open reflexive process to help you establish your professional presence.

What are the costs & prerequisites?

We’re offering this brand new professional development opportunity for a deeply discounted rate. 100% of the proceeds go directly to funding Designers for Learning’s operating expenses.

  • Cost: $20 US
  • Prerequisites: There are no prerequisites for the course.
  • Required resource purchases: None*

* When developing this course, we were inspired by a book titled Show your Work: 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered by Austin Kleon. While purchasing this book is not a requirement for this course, it’s a good read and relatively inexpensive (around $8 new and less than $3 used) in both hardcopy and ebook formats. It’s also readily available in many public libraries if you want to try before you buy.

How does this Design in the Open challenge work?

This design challenge is a 100% self-paced independent study experience. Each of the five sections in this course focuses on a different theme related to developing your professional presence through an open reflexive process. As shown in the Course Curriculum outline below, recorded interviews highlight various perspectives related to each section’s theme. Within each course section, you’ll engage in short ungraded Design in the Open challenges geared toward your own professional presence development and have the opportunity to share and compare your impressions of each section’s theme with others enrolled in the course.

Who created this Design in the Open challenge?

Jennifer Maddrell designed and is facilitating this Design in the Open challenge pro bono to help support Designers for Learning and the important social causes the nonprofit targets. Jennifer is the founder and Executive Director of Designers for Learning and holds a PhD in Instructional Design and Technology, as well as an MS in Instructional Systems Technology and an MBA in Strategic Management and Marketing.

Designers for Learning coordinates service-learning opportunities for those who seek to gain experience creating instruction and other types of performance improvement solutions to support underserved social causes. This course is a departure from Designers for Learning’s prior service-MOOCs that have enrolled thousands of participants since 2014. Even though all of Designers for Learning’s projects are designed and managed by volunteers, we still incur expenses to sustain our operations and “keep the lights on”, including government filing fees, insurance, web hosting, web-conferencing tools, our contact and email management platforms, etc. 100% of the proceeds from this Design in the Open challenge will go directly to supporting Designers for Learning’s operating expenses.

What is the inspiration for this Design in the Open challenge?

Within the contact form on our website, we ask, “Please describe your interest in Designers for Learning.” Again and again, respondents note they’re looking to gain experience to get a job or transition into a different job within the field of instructional design. Many have advanced degrees in education, some in instructional design, but they’re having trouble either finding a job or getting the type of job they want because they don’t feel they have enough experience and/or don’t know the right people.

When developing this course, we were inspired by a book titled Show your Work: 10 ways to share your creativity and get discovered by Austin Kleon.  In the book’s introduction, Kleon writes that his readers are those trying to break into a new creative field. He is often asked, “How do I get myself out there? How do I get noticed? How do I find an audience?” Kleon’s response is one we applaud and try to emulate in our work:

“In order to be found, you have to be findable. I think there’s an easy way of putting your work out there and making it discoverable while you’re focused on getting really good at what you do.”

From Kleon’s perspective, those who are successful don’t hoard their work in secrecy, but instead gain an audience by sharing what you are doing as you are doing it. This philosophy of openly sharing is the foundation of Designers for Learning approach to design, as well as our central recommendation to the professional development of designers.

How much time will it take to complete the course?

As this is a 100% self-paced course, you can spend as much time as you want to work on the materials and complete the Design in the Open challenges. To benefit from the experience, you should plan to devote at least 15 hours to work on the material (i.e., 3 hours for each of the 5-sections shown below in the Course Curriculum section of this page). Like most experiences in life, the worth is related to the time and effort committed to it. Your commitment to actively engage at least 15 hours will help to support a worthwhile experience.

What have prior students said about our courses?

  • Gives hands-on, real-world experience.
  • The course is set up well and the materials are excellent. The lesson planning activities are also excellent. As we read, we are able to think about the specific components of our lesson.
  • In the discussions, I was able to read about other people’s various ideas. Also, I could build networks with people who are interested in the same issue/topic.
  • Your course design is fabulous! I really appreciate how thoughtful and intentional you were in mapping out our journey.
  • Thank you so much. I learned a lot about the design process.
  • I am very honored to be a part of this course. I hope to be of more assistance once the course has completed. Please keep me in mind for future opportunities.

Questions or Comments?

Do you have comments or questions about this Design in the Open challenge? Please help us spread the news about this upcoming course by forwarding this announcement to other interested colleagues or students, and connect with us at: