How We Teach

When a rocket is launched, there is an immense amount of preparation and material that goes into helping a small payload escape gravity. Booster rockets and engines burn up in the atmosphere, but that does not mean they are optional. Similarly, the focal point of our course is a 2 week Kickstarter campaign, but we can't get the students there without a ton of prep work first.

The latest design of our course is divided into four distinct phases:

  1. Train - Getting everyone on the same page with basic skills
  2. Prepare - Exploring, expressing, and refining ideas
  3. Launch - Taking a leap of faith and finding your people
  4. Review - Reflecting and processing to learn

At SVA, we have:

  • 16 week semesters
  • 15-20 first year Interaction Design MFA students
  • Mandatory class
  • Fixed schedule (one 3 hour class / week)
  • Institutional support in terms of resources, space, $$, and students

And we put together these phases like this:

Earlier on, we lectured for the first 3 weeks of class and then leapt into Prepare (5 weeks), Launch (3 weeks), and Review (4 weeks). In our latest iteration, we spent 6 weeks on Train, 5 weeks on Prepare, 2 weeks on Launch, and 3 weeks on Review.

Over the years, we changed the structure of the course significantly.

When we ran it outside the academy, it was a shorter program—4 weeks, 2x a week. We recruited participants who already had a pretty good idea of what they wanted to work on, so we spent 3 weeks on Prepare and 1 week on Launch. That course did not have time for Review.