In order to develop the next generation of innovators, we need to teach how to promote one's designs and expertise in a professional network. The goal of this project was to create a curriculum that would teach DFA students how to evaluate their social capital and leverage online and offline tools to develop stronger professional connections.
We began out design process by speaking with both DFA students and leaders to understand challenges with networking.
By talking with students and leaders, we found that students felt overwhelmed with professional networking and did not know basic etiquette when reaching out and maintaining relationships with people in industry. This ranged from how to introduce oneself in an offline setting to how to ask for advice in an email. By identifying exactly what networking actions students had difficulty with, we were able to develop short, manageable activities that scaffolded the process of networking both online and offline.
Create and Test
In order to create an effective online curriculum, we chose to develop a syllabus with set of activities for each lesson. Student users expressed that there were already many resources to learn about networking online, but few had quick, manageable activities to perform in-between school work. Our activity prototypes included mad-libs to scaffold email writing and worksheets to bring to physical networking events, like conferences. We tested these activities through talk-alouds and in authentic networking settings to inform the final design.
The final curriculum can be found on the DFA Loft Platform, and is currently being used by DFA students around the nation.
This curriculum was designed for Design for America (DFA). I worked on a team of 4 design students, Emily Harburg (Northwestern PhD student), Shannon Nachreiner (Course Hero), and Claire McClosky (Northwestern Engineering Design and Innovation Masters Student).