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Northwestern University

First MOOC Session Receives Positive Feedback

The first session of “Leadership through Design Innovation” came to a close last week, and according to the data, learners were very pleased.

With more than 700 active learners, the course has received an overwhelmingly positive response, with 98% of users giving the content a “thumbs up.”

Part of Northwestern University’s six-part Coursera series “Organizational Leadership Specialization,” “Leadership through Design Innovation” is a massive open online course (MOOC) that aims to educate users on the design process taught at the Segal Design Institute.

Design innovation has been at the crux of Segal’s curriculum since its inception, and now thanks to the MOOC, the process can be shared worldwide. Greg Holderfield, course instructor and Segal Design Institute director, said the opportunity to spread the design innovation mindset and process is what inspired the Segal team of instructors to create the course.

“We see design innovation as a critical component to leadership, as it not only inspires, but also informs the process of innovation,” Holderfield said.

Pam Daniels, fellow instructor and Segal Design Institute design innovator in residence, agrees. “Today’s workplace calls for a new style of leadership to embolden and accelerate innovation, and we are excited that so many people across the globe are participating in our course.”

Starting with more than 1800 registered learners week one, “Leadership through Design Innovation” has seen its enrollment increase by nearly 40% within the course’s first month.  

“Needless to say, we are excited that so many people are participating in the design innovation experience,” Holderfield said. 

The increasing amount of learners is not the only positive data related to the course; feedback has been supportive as well. Learner Nelson Acosta said that out of the entire specialization, “Leadership through Design Innovation” stands out to him the most. “This course has given me the knowledge and confidence to begin to apply the concepts immediately.”

Acosta is not alone, as the course’s rating stands at a 4.3 out of 5, with nearly 60% of those ratings being 5 stars.  The optimistic feedback is certainly reassuring; however, the instructors realize the MOOC will continue to evolve as time passes.

“We are encouraged by the positive responses to the course so far, and look forward to continuing to iterate our offering to better meet learner needs,” Daniels said.

Daniels’s reference to iteration directly mirrors the design process taught in the course, where students are taught to continually adapt their solutions based on users’ needs. Leading by example, the instructors have already tweaked the course based off of learners’ feedback.

Teaching the course alongside Daniels and Holderfield are Ed Colgate, professor of mechanical engineering and director of Segal’s Engineering Design Innovation (EDI) program; and Liz Gerber, associate professor of mechanical engineering. 

The second session of “Leadership through Design Innovation” is already underway, with the third beginning April 11. For more information on the “Leadership through Design Innovation,” or how to register, please visit Coursera

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