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Design & Creativity

Tuesday, March 20, 2018
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The course uses design thinking to address the “wicked problem” of designing your life and career. This online class offers a framework, tools, and a place where you’ll work on these issues through videos, reflections, and exercises. The course employs a design thinking approach to help people -- of any age and with any academic background -- develop a constructive and effective approach to finding and designing their vocation.


There are no prerequisites for this course. People of all backgrounds and at any stage of their career are welcome to use the course.


Dave Evans

Co-Founder, Stanford Life Design Lab

Dave Evans has been on a mission to help others find and pursue theirs ever since his undergrad days at Stanford. Along the way, he co-founded Electronic Arts and introduced the computer mouse to the world while at Apple.

Bill Burnett

Co-Founder, Stanford Life Design Lab

Bill Burnett is the Executive Director of the Design Program at Stanford. He holds a number of mechanical and design patents, and design awards for a variety of products including the first “slate” computer. In addition to his duties at Stanford, he is a on the Board of VOZ (pronounced “VAWS – it means voice in Spanish) a social responsible high fashion startup and advises several Internet start-up companies.

Kathy Davies

Managing Director, Stanford Life Design Lab

Kathy has 15 years of experience developing electromechanical and software products, and proudly holds five patents. She consults with Silicon Valley companies, teaches design thinking, conducts ethnographic research, and develops product strategies and concepts. Kathy is also the co- creator of “Designing Your Life for Women” and a passionate advocate for design thinking as a methodology to empower social change.

John Armstrong

Stanford Life Design Lab Fellow and Lecturer

As a lecturer in Stanford's Life Design Lab, John teaches classes and develops programs to help people use design thinking to get the most out of college, work, and life. John previously worked with Stanford students and faculty in the office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, Student Activities and Leadership, and Graduate School of Education. Prior to Stanford, John has served as a Dean of Students and taught meditation and wellness. John received his BA from Colorado College and MA from Stanford.

Ben Bowman

Stanford Life Design Lab Intern

Ben is earning his master's degree in Policy, Organization, and Leadership Studies from the Stanford Graduate School of Education. Prior to his time at Stanford, he worked in the Oregon State Legislature on education policy issues. He also has experience in youth leadership development and training.


I am not a student at Stanford. Can I still take this course?

Yes! This online course is based on a class taught by lecturers at the Stanford Life Design Lab called Designing Your Life (which is based on the book of the same name by co-founders Bill Burnett and Dave Evans). One of the goals of using the online medium is to make these ideas and processes available to anyone who could benefit from them.

I see "Design" in the course title. Will we learn Design Thinking?

Yes! The way we have structured the course and designed the activities and exercises are applications of many of the components of design thinking. This course is a practical way of using design thinking on your life.

How much work will this be?

This course is designed to be flexible and adaptive to the needs of each user. The course is structured around a set of videos, with activities and exercises that correspond to each video subject. You could choose to breeze through the course in an hour, or you could choose to dive deep, take extra time to reflect, consult with other resources, and finish over the course of a few weeks. This course is a tool; it's up to you how you use it.

Is there a Statement of Accomplishment available for this course?

No. This course is intended to be reflective and give you some tools to engage with the resources around you.

I'm a student at Stanford. Are there simillar courses I could take?

Designing Your Life is one of many courses we teach that applies the Design Thinking approach to wicked life problems. With each course, we’ve tailored the material to a specific student population.

For juniors and seniors of all majors: ME104B – Designing Your Life

For graduate students of all majors: ENGR311B – Designing the Professional

For senior majoring in Product Design: ME104 – The Designer’s Voice

For Masters students in the Graduate Design Program: ME304 – The Designer’s Voice

Which web browser should I use?

The Open edX platform works best with current versions of Chrome, Firefox or Safari, or with Internet Explorer version 9 and above.

See our list of supported browsers for the most up-to-date information.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017
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Blended and Online Learning Design is a guide to creating digital learning content at Stanford. It walks you through the design process from beginning to end and currently consists of the following modules:

Introduction: How do I navigate these modules? What resources does Stanford provide for me?
Planning Your Course: How do I get started with creating my course? What platforms are available? What tools can I use?
Designing Blended Courses: How do I design an effective course with both online and face-to-face components?
Designing for All Learners: How do I design inclusive and accessible course content?
Presenting Content Online: How can I most effectively use videos, slides, HTML, and other media to present course content?
Creating Assessments: What types of assessments are available and how can I use them most effectively?
Fostering Social Presence & Motivation Online: How do I build genuine community to keep students motivated?
We are in the process of developing additional content, which will be released incrementally.

Self-Paced Resources

The modules in Blended and Online Learning Design are self-paced, meaning they have no deadlines, and the materials will be available indefinitely for you to work through on your own schedule. The modules can be completed in any order and should serve as a resource for you during the creation of your online content.


These resources are designed for Stanford faculty and staff members who are involved with creating online instructional content. We will assume that you have experience teaching on campus, but not online.

These resources were developed by the Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there recommendations on specific platforms and tools that I can use in my course production?
Although we recognize the value of providing such information, the ever-changing landscape of educational technologies makes it a significant challenge to keep information current. Therefore, we provide general information, but for details, we recommend that you request a consultation with one of our instructional designers.

Can I obtain a Statement of Accomplishment?

No. The modules are designed to allow participants the flexibility to skip through and view whatever content is relevant to their own needs.

Are there required assignments?

No. However, each module contains optional activities and exercises.

How many hours should I expect to spend on each module?

It varies because some of the modules have much more content than others. Also, you may elect to skip parts of modules that are not relevant to you. On average, each module should take from 1 to 3 hours to complete in its entirety.

Do I need to buy a textbook?

No textbook is required. A resource that might be helpful is How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching by Susan A. Ambrose, Michael W. Bridges, Michele DiPietro, Marsha C. Lovett, and Marie K. Norman (Jossey-Bass, 2010).

Is this resource open to non-Stanford participants?

Yes. However, the content is written with a Stanford audience in mind. Please check with your own institution for information about its specific resources and policies.


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Monday, September 11, 2017 to Wednesday, September 13, 2017
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Program Overview

Leadership, Strategy and Tools for 21st Century Challenges

Today’s leaders face one certainty: they are operating in an environment of uncertainty. Consumption is increasing. Resources are dwindling. Delivering stakeholder value is an imperative, but so is factoring in the global challenges we collectively face. Every decision has the potential to enhance – or compromise – the well-being and security of future generations.

That’s a lot of responsibility.

And it’s why Stanford recognizes sustainability as an essential component of effective leadership in the 21st century. Stanford’s new curriculum, Leadership for Sustainability, unpacks the core mindsets, knowledge and skills leaders need to promote sustainability and resilience in today’s complex environment.


Enroll in Stanford’s 2.5 day program on Leadership for Sustainability and learn the critical skills you’ll need to lead change that can deliver long-term results.

You’ll learn to:

  • Navigate Complexity: Understand and learn strategies for identifying both risks and opportunities in today’s global environment.
  • Shift Perspective: Evolve decision-making processes to include environmental, social and economic considerations.
  • Initiate Positive Change: Learn how transformation happens through incremental creative partnerships and large-scale initiatives.
  • Return to your organization ready to:
  • Set realistic sustainability business objectives
  • Implement concrete strategies to drive change within your organization
  • Align teams around sustainability goals
  • Shift organizational culture to encompass a longer-view mindset
  • Employ systems thinking to identify broader, more effective solutions
  • Measure impact across a variety of dimensions that go beyond financial performance

Fee applies.

Who Should Enroll

Decision makers in any industry who understand that today’s global challenges require new skills and ways of thinking.
Executives who understand that sustainability is becoming a universal business language. Already fluent? Ready to start learning? The only prerequisite is the desire to lead change.
Leaders who recognize the business and moral imperative to make sustainability an intrinsic part of their organization.

Program tuition: $5,500

Tuition includes all course materials, three breakfasts, two lunches and receptions with participants and faculty.

Individual enrollments

$4,500 per person, if registered by July 15, 2017
$5,500 per person
Registration opens April 15th. Early bird registration ends July 15th.

Group enrollments (teams of 3 or more)

Additional discounts may be available for groups, contact us for more information.
Program to be held on September 11-13th on Stanford campus.


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Do you have what it takes to inspire people to practice—rather than just talk about—innovation? Professor Bob Sutton digs into the differences between leading innovation and managing routine work, reviews the hallmarks of skilled leaders with a special focus on staying in tune with the people you lead. The course features interviews with three star innovators: Mauria Finley, experienced corporate executive at large firms including Netscape and eBay and founder of Citrus Lane; Perry Klebhan, former CEO, inventor of the modern snowshoe, and director of executive education at the Stanford; and Diego Rodriguez, partner at IDEO, author of the renowned Metacool blog, and cofounder of the Stanford

Learn How To:

  • Embrace "failure" and learn from it"
  • Learn the differences between routine and innovative work, the importance of having a place to fail, and why killing good ideas is sometimes necessary.
  • Manage creativity and innovation
  • Gain an understanding of creative processes, and understand why creative work must be managed differently.
  • Build and maintain a talented, motivated team
  • Learn about building and leading a creative team. Consider how self-fulfilling prophecies, money as a motivator, intrinsic rewards, stand-up meetings, and fostering constructive conflict can improve or hinder team performance.
  • Develop the skills of an in-tune leader
  • Reconsider traditional notions of leadership, and discover the leader's role in being assertive, celebrating small wins, and supporting team members.
  • Close the knowing-doing gap
  • Explore the traps that often prohibit implementation


Robert Sutton, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University


Please contact us at 650.741.1630 or



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Monday, June 26, 2017
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Course Description

This course will teach marketers how to use data to make better business decisions. Designed specifically for marketing and sales professionals without math, statistical, or analytic backgrounds, the course will focus on the types of data that marketers are most confronted with: social media, mobile applications, paid media, website analytics, and customer profiling data. By breaking down seemingly complex topics using easy-to-understand concepts and visualization techniques, students will learn how to collect, analyze, visualize, and even make predictions using data. These skills, when taken together, enable students to develop a core set of skills that can be used in virtually any marketing situation, whether creating a measurement strategy or identifying and targeting new customers. Course material is presented using online videos and supplemented with additional instructional how-to videos to help students learn the mechanics of dealing with data. Take-home assignments will aid in developing each student’s grasp of particular topics. By the end of the course, students will have learned how to collect, analyze, interpret, and visualize data as part of their ongoing decision-making process.

Students need a basic understanding of Microsoft Excel, which will be used outside of the weekly class sessions. A version of Microsoft Excel 2013 or newer is required. No prior technical or statistical background is necessary.


Angel Evan, Customer Insights and Analytics Consultant

Angel Evan has nearly twenty years of digital marketing experience, and his approach stems from joint studies in data mining and graphic design. He specializes in simplifying complex topics using jargon-free language and visual teaching methods.
Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.


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Monday, June 26, 2017
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From 40,000-year-old prehistoric cave paintings to the latest digital emoji symbols on our phones, making visual marks—drawing—has been a fundamental form of human communication, expression, and creativity. As children, we have an innate ability to access creativity and to express ourselves through drawing, but as we get older, we are trained to judge what we do as either “bad” or “good” (usually “bad”) and to leave the making of art to the “experts.” Many people find themselves cut off not only from drawing but also from their own creativity. This course is designed to reignite a sense of creative experimentation and exploration through drawing.

The core component of the course will be short daily drawing prompts that can be responded to anywhere with little more than a pencil and a small sketchbook. Unlike a studio class, the focus of this course is not about learning to draw or making an expertly rendered piece of art; rather, it is about the process of drawing and how it can support creativity in our lives. At first, we will focus on jumpstarting our creativity, tapping into our imaginations, and circumventing the critical tendencies that can inhibit us. Later, we will experiment with different ways to make marks, observing the world around (and within) us and exploring the inventive possibilities of drawing. By the end of the course, students will have the tools and confidence necessary to maintain their own creative drawing practice.

This course is designed for beginners, those with limited drawing experience, or people who want to build a creative outlet into their daily lives. Students must purchase their own art supplies for this course and can expect to spend an additional $15–$25 on these materials.

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade.

This is an online course. Because of the higher enrollment compared with a traditional on-campus art studio course, students will not receive instructor feedback on daily drawing posts. Students may request light instructor feedback on two drawings during the course. The course also includes instructional videos, interactive exercises, and discussion with fellow students, as well as optional online videoconferencing sessions.


Trevor Tubelle, Artist

Trevor Tubelle is a San Francisco–based interdisciplinary artist working with hybrid forms of drawing, painting, printmaking, mixed media, and performance. He has taught at Stanford Arts Institute (Honors in the Arts program), UC Santa Cruz, and elsewhere. His work is included in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tubelle received an MFA in painting from the San Francisco Art Institute.
Textbooks for this course:

There are no required textbooks; however, some fee-based online readings may be assigned.


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Monday, June 26, 2017
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Course Description

The concept of design innovation applies as much to our own personal growth and leadership as to anything else in our lives. This course teaches how each of us can become more aware of design innovation in our lives, how design innovation works, and most importantly, how it applies to all of us. It explores such questions as: Where is our place in the world, what is my personal vision of change, and how do I safely test incarnations of myself along the way? As the course progresses, we will learn how to take control and (re-) design our own lives through innovative measures. Design can truly be at the heart of refashioning our future lives in a chaotic world and, as importantly, of finding well-being and reclaiming a rich human experience.

Using a combination of tools from the Foresight Framework and Stanford’s design community, this course will provide a learning laboratory for your own self-reflection and experimentation in a group setting. Through a combination of short videos, readings, demonstrations, field work, and open forums with faculty, plus personal feedback, you will gain fast practice in understanding yourself as a design innovation. 

This course may not be taken for a Letter Grade.

This is the third in a sequence of three courses on design innovation. In the Fall, students explored designing future solutions within a business context; in the Spring, students designed solutions in the context of global teams; and in the Summer, students will focus on design innovation in the context of personal leadership and growth. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.


Michael Shanks, Professor of Classics; Professor of Archaeology; Senior Faculty, Program in Writing and Rhetoric, Science, Technology and Society, Urban Studies, and the Center for Design Research, School of Engineering, Stanford

Michael Shanks is an archaeologist and specialist in long-term humanistic views of design and innovation. He has directed Stanford Humanities Lab and the Revs Program, connecting automotive heritage with contemporary car design. While he pursues fieldwork into the Roman borders of the Netherlands, he also serves on the Mayor of Rotterdam’s Advisory Board and works with many companies, including Airbus, Severstal, Thales Group, Michelin, Daimler Chrysler, and SAP, on developing cultures of innovation.

Tamara Carleton, CEO and Founder, Innovation Leadership Board

Tamara Carleton helps organizations to create vision-led, radical innovations. She works closely with the Foresight and Innovation program at Stanford, where she explores how the world’s most innovative companies create technology visions and take action. She received a PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford.

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Course Description

Move beyond theory and dive into hands-on practice in the art of innovation. Tackle innovation challenges from start to finish and gain an in-depth understanding of these key tenets of design thinking and how to incorporate them into your work. Empathize with your customer, synthesize your learnings, and rapidly prototype and test your new ideas. Master techniques for gaining empathy with customers and immediately put them to use in a series of hands on exercises that guide you from synthesis to prototyping and testing.

Enrollment: Application and Fee Apply

Learn How To


  • Perry Klebahn, Consulting Associate Professor and Executive Director of Executive Education, Stanford, Stanford University
  • Jeremy Utley, Lecturer and Director of Executive Education, Stanford, Stanford University

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About the Course

This course introduces the basics of Digital Signal Processing and computational acoustics, motivated by the vibrational physics of real-world objects and systems. We will build from a simple mass-spring and pendulum to demonstrate oscillation, learn how to simulate those systems in the computer, and also prove that these simple oscillations behave as a sine wave. From that we move to plucked strings and struck bars, showing both solutions as combined traveling waves and combined sine wave harmonics. We continue to build and simulate more complex systems containing many vibrating objects and resonators (stringed instruments, drum, plate), and also learn how to simulate echos and room reverberation. Through this process, we will learn about digital signals, filters, oscillators, harmonics, spectral analysis, linear and non-linear systems, particle models, and all the necessary building blocks to synthesize essentially any sound. The free open-source software provided will make it possible for anyone to use physical models in their art-making, game or movie sound, or any other application.

Price: Free and Subscription Option

What you need to take this course:

    • Materials:
    • Equipment:
    • Software: ChucK (also optionally STK, PeRColate for Max/MSP, Processing, GL/Glut)
    • Recommended (highly) Textbook:

    Real Sound Synthesis for Interactive Applications (Kadenze discount available in Course Resources when course begins: Free Users=20%, Premium=50%).

    • Familiarity with ChucK programming language

    Introduction to Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists (Kadenze ChucK course)

    Programming for Musicians and Digital Artists (ChucK book, Kadenze Discount available in Course Resources when course begins)

    • Operating system: Mac OS X, Windows, or Linux (Planet CCRMA recommended)
    • Desired: familiarity with algebra. no calculus required.
    • Helpful to have: some personal sound-making things: a guitar or other stringed instrument, a drum, a kitchen pan, a prayer bowl, glasses, bowls, voice...


Perry Cook

    Perry R. Cook is Emeritus Professor of Computer Science (also Music) at Princeton University, founding advisor/consultant to social music company SMule, and consulting professor at CalArts, Stanford CCRMA. With Dan Trueman, he co-founded the Princeton Laptop Orchestra, which received a MacArthur Digital Learning Initiative Grant in 2005. With Ge Wang, Cook is co-author of the ChucK Programming Language. His newest book is “Programming for Digital Musicians and Artists,” with Ajay Kapur, Spencer Salazar, and Ge Wang. The recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship, Cook is (still) working on a new book, "La Bella Voce e La Macchina (the Beautiful Voice and the Machine), A History of Technology and the Expressive Voice." Perry is also co-founder of Kadenze.


    Julius Smith

      Julius O. Smith normally teaches a music signal-processing course sequence and supervises related research at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He is formally a professor of music and (by courtesy) electrical engineering. In 1975, he received his BS/EE degree from Rice University, where he got started in the field of digital signal processing and modeling for control. In 1983, he received the PhD/EE degree from Stanford University, specializing in techniques for digital filter design and system identification, with application to violin modeling. His work history includes the Signal Processing Department at Electromagnetic Systems Laboratories, Inc., working on systems for digital communications, the Adaptive Systems Department at Systems Control Technology, Inc., working on research problems in adaptive filtering and spectral estimation, and NeXT Computer, Inc., where he was responsible for sound, music, and signal processing software for the NeXT computer workstation. Prof. Smith is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society and the Acoustical Society of America. He is the author of four online books and numerous research publications in his field.




      Sound Synthesis

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      Monday, April 3, 2017
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      Course Description

      Presentations are ubiquitous. From board rooms to chat rooms, we all need to present our ideas and ourselves frequently. Estimates suggest that there are 40 million presentations a day in the United States. Yet many presenters feel uneasy about speaking in front of others. Additionally, speakers can struggle with making their presentations authentic, engaging, and memorable. This online course will provide a hands-on, practical introduction to immediately applicable techniques that will help you prepare and deliver engaging, participative, and impactful in-person and online presentations. Through a combination of lectures, discussions, group activities, and speechmaking, you will learn techniques to confidently deliver presentations, create content that invites engagement, and facilitate speaker/audience interactions that invite collaboration without losing control. Students will develop, deliver, and evaluate a presentation that is meaningful for them. With these presenting skills, you will be able to authentically deliver a compelling presentation tailored to your audience’s needs. 

      Matt Abrahams, Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business

      Matt Abrahams is an educator and coach who has published research articles on cognitive planning, persuasion, and interpersonal communication. He is the author of Speaking Up Without Freaking Out, and a co-founder and principal at Bold Echo Communication Solutions. He received an MA in communication from UC Davis.

      Textbooks for this course

      (Required) Matthew Abrahams, Speaking up without Freaking Out, 3rd edition (ISBN 978-1465290472)

      DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)

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