Course Description

Human-centered design is a creative approach to problem solving that involves the human perspective in all steps of the problem solving process. This approach aims to make systems useful and usable by focusing on the user's needs and requirements.  Systems designed using human-centered methods can have substantial economic and social benefits for service providers, consumers, and the communities they serve.

This course provides an introduction to the concepts and methods of human-centered design and explores how organizations can take a human-centered approach to problem solving in their work.  As you progress through the course, you'll work through the design process using real world examples to help you incorporate human-centered approaches to your own organization's work. 

The concepts and tools presented in this course are an excellent addition to any organization's strategic planning process.  The course includes materials, exercises, and concepts that you'll immediately be able to incorporate into your own planning process.

Minimum System Requirements:

This course includes downloads of PDF documents (Portable Document Format) and streaming video. Viewing the documents will require Adobe Acrobat Reader or other PDF viewing software.  Adobe Acrobat Reader is available for free from the Adobe website.

The video player will run on Mac OS, Windows and Linux as well as most mobile devices and tablets on any browser that supports Adobe Flash and/or HTML5.  Supported browsers include Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer 9,10,11, and Microsoft Edge.  Internet Explorer 8 is not supported on Windows XP for security reasons, but is supported on Windows 7 or higher operating systems.

An internet connection with a minimum speed of 768 kilobits per second is required.  At least 5MB/sec is recommended to stream video in full HD quality.  Please note that the video player may downgrade the quality of the video to accommodate lower connection speeds.

Course Presenters

  • Robert Burack

    Brocade Studio

    Robert Burack

    Robert Burack is an experienced facilitator who has led disconnected groups of stakeholders to identify creative new solutions. Most recently, he managed the launch of the nation's first craft business accelerator. Previously, he was Programs Director for Break Away, a national nonprofit that provides strategic planning and project management services to 200 universities and more than 500 nonprofit partners. He maintains an appointment at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard's Kennedy School, where he works with a network of urban Chief Data Officers.

    You can learn more about Robert's work at
  • Nic Marlton

    Brocade Studio

    Nic Marlton

    Nic Marlton has designed and managed systems in public education, finance, and legal services and is adept at working across sectors to find and implement inventive solutions. He has created crisis management programs in Pennsylvania's lowest performing public schools, and is currently working on an extended engagement with Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund. He is a strong believer that the principles of design can be applied to any challenge and meets client problems with the creativity and energy they demand.

    You can learn more about Robert and Nic's work at

Course curriculum

  • 1
    Course Materials
    • How to Navigate This Course
    • 2.1 Presentation Slides
    • 3.1 Interviewing
    • 4.1 RTB + Clustering
    • 5.1 Structured Brainstorming
    • 5.2 Matrices
    • 5.3 Reflective Prototyping
    • 5.4 Prototyping Worksheet
  • 2
    1. Welcome
    • Talking Heads
  • 3
    2. Opening
    • Intro + Agenda
    • Diverging + Converging
    • Why consider HCD?
  • 4
    3. Understand the Context
    • Presentation
    • Interviewing Overview
    • Interviewing Exercise
    • Reflection
  • 5
    4. Define the Problem
    • Presentation
    • RTB and Clustering Overview
    • RTB and Clustering Exercise
    • Reflection
  • 6
    5. Ideate and Prototype
    • Presentation
    • Structured Brainstorming Overview
    • Structured Brainstorming Exercise
    • Matrices Overview
    • Matrices Exercise
    • Prototyping Overview
    • Prototyping Exercise
    • Reflection
  • 7
    6. Launch and Iterate
    • Presentation
    • Reflection
  • 8
    7. Questions/Closing
    • Closing