Initially, we weren’t quite sure what to think when Skillshare, which matches skilled people with those wanting to learn those skills, recently added a design component to its curriculum. For $20 a class you can learn logo design, infographic creation, and 18 other design skills that cover everything from fashion to the Web. (The images in this piece were made by students in the poster creation class.)
While the idea has that slightly-tacky feel you get from content-mill sites like eHow, the expertise of the teachers – each has some professional experience related to the class they teach – makes this a viable option for those who have neither the money nor the time to attend more traditional design classes. The structure, as laid out by a recent Wired.com piece, is pretty simple:
“The teacher provides the assignment and some reference materials; students start working on their projects and get feedback from the teacher and their classmates on the project website or through virtual ‘office hours’ handled with video chat, and a final review.”
Not only does it help some people fill in a few gaps in their knowledge, it highlights an important seismic shift in design education itself. However important we feel formal design study is, fewer and fewer working designers have that background anymore, and those numbers are only going to dwindle with time.
Certainly those who don’t attend a good design school are missing out on fundamentals that would be extremely helpful later on. But sinking $50,000 into a degree program in the current economic climate is not an option for most people these days, and more careers are being launched by aspiring designers themselves than by following the traditional school-job career path.