How do I deal with my professors teaching outdated design tools and methods?

Our industry moves quickly, and even if your professors were completely up-to-date on the latest tools and methods, that knowledge would be outdated in a few years anyway. The foundational principles of design don't change, however, and the real value of a design education is in learning those.

Use this opportunity to "learn how to learn," and use resources outside of school to teach yourself the latest tools and techniques. That curiosity and drive to learn on your own will serve you well in a design career.

4 action items

  • 1. Learn the fundamentals.

    Design is less about tools/methods and more about a particular way of empathetic problem-solving. Learn the foundations of design thinking from your professors, even if their toolset isn't the most current.

  • 2. Learn to make good use of outside resources.

    Join a design-oriented Slack team, read industry blogs (InVision has a great one), scour Dribbble and Behance, and pick peoples' brains on Twitter. There are lots of professional designers who are eager to talk to students and help them learn the latest tools and methods.

  • 3. Experiment on your own.

    Download trial versions of the tools you want to learn, and just play around. There are lots of tutorials floating around which can teach you how to use them.

  • 4. Remember that tools and methods change!

    Design changes quickly, and the tools and methods that are relevant now might not be relevant in five years. If you develop a love of the learning process, and set aside some time each week to get up-to-speed on the industry's latest, you'll be well-prepared for the future.

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