• Carol

The best courses to learn Design Thinking for Free (or almost!)

Perhaps it is me being biased... Perhaps it is fashionable, or perhaps it just works...

But I have the impression that Design Thinking - once the territory of an elite of designers, innovators and startuppers - has pervaded all sectors of our society.

If you would like to understand how this mindset and its frameworks could help you in your work and are keen to learn some secrets without spending a fortune read on: I have selected some of the best online courses on this subject, all for free (or almost).

To start


This course is called Learning Design Thinking: Lead Change in Your Organisation. This is a paid resource, or rather, a resource accessible free of charge to those who have a premium LinkedIn membership.

The training is held by Turi McKinley, Executive Director of Frog, lasts for just 2 hours and therefore only provides a basic overview of the topic, but if you have a LinkedIn premium membership may be the best place to start your approach to design thinking.

Open HPI

On the e-learning platform of the Hasso Plattner Institute (HPI) you'll find several free MOOCs, some available on-demand, others live; the latter are particularly interesting because they allow you to network with other subscribers, do peer review, and - not least - get a certificate of participation.

The course you will find here are entry level, so if you are interested in the subject I suggest you to continue to deepen it elsewhere. However, all things considered, this is not bad if you think that HPI is, together with Stanford University's d.school, the inventor of Design Thinking.

To progress


For those who love video lessons and are ready to face a more structured course of study, I recommend the Micromaster in Design Thinking della Rochester Institute of Technology on EDx, available for free (audit only) or paid (900$ - with certification).

The Micromaster is articulated in 5 course that will allow you to:

-Discover all the 5 stages of design thinking

-Collect methods and strategies to apply to your business problems.


The platform offers as many as 8 design thinking courses, from entry to intermediate level, some of which taught by famous Universities such as University of San Diego and HEC of Paris; this one got particular praise with its Managing Innovation and Design Thinking, which promises to:

-Build your own prototype for a product, service, or business design

-Lead strategic decision-making about innovation in order to compete

-Develop a personal tool-box and managerial framework to effectively foster creativity in your organization

-Learn how to design and govern a team, project, and organization.

To master and activate

IDEO on Udemy

Introduction to Human-Centered Design is curated by IDEO, one of the most famous design consulting agencies.

The strong point of this course is a pdf and toolkit that covers all the stages of design thinking, to combine theory and practice.

Interaction Design Foundation

Attention, here starts my super endorsement for the Interaction Design Foundation (IDF), not because I have something to gain from it, but because in so many years of e-learning, it is the only platform to which I have not yet found a fault, and I would recommend you to go straight to it without the unnecessary trial and errors.

Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) offers a basic course of Design Thinking, like all the courses offered by IDF it's good to go deeper and "straight to the point", what you'll read is all flesh and blood without any superfluous words.

This is a paid resource, but it is definitely worth it, not only because IDF offers many other courses on UX, Human Computer Interaction, Design etc... all accessible by simply paying the annual subscription of 144 euros, but also because, in my opinion, it has the best balance between video lessons, texts, toolkits, open questions, closed, networking, which allows you to take advantage of the content at different times of the day and return easily to the content that you want to apply. Bonus point: IDF courses all offer certification!

PS: If you're interested, here's a 3-month discount on new memberships.

To conclude

At this point, all that's left is to wish you good study!

PS: Should I have forgotten some important references, please send me a message, so that I can update the list. Thank you so much for your contribution :)

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© 2019 by Carol Frer