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What is the Curriculum Design Studio?

The Curriculum Design Studio (CDS) is a dynamic and iterative design-thinking-based approach to coming up with impactful curricula for your own exercise, lecture, module, program, or co-curricular learning initiative.

It helps you design curricula and accelerate its implementation and your related research and dissemination efforts.

How did it come about?

I teach both entrepreneurship and engineering. And a few years ago, I found myself contemplating the irony that educators don’t design curricula using the same leading-edge approaches or theory-informed practices that I put my own students through to design new ventures or new technologies.

And boom! The Curriculum Design Studio was born …

Really, there was a ‘Boom’?!

Okay, no. Not an actual explosion.

But just as real ah-ha moments are actually the result of hours, months, or even years of work, there is a bit of history that led to the CDS. I’ve been developing courses and programs for many years now myself – from one-off activities, to new courses or course-level overhauls, to new minors, to corporate learning experiences, to, (my most scary), a successful bootstrapped school for innovation design. And while doing this kind of work, I’ve always tried to capture and contribute to the process of curriculum design itself. To take what I might have learned from educational and instructional design experts along the way, and to codify it. To turn it into a flexible but powerful set of frameworks and processes I could follow the next time I designed something.

And in time I started sharing those with other educators.

In the summer of 2015, I launched a program called the Go Deep Teaching and Learning Scholars program » in entrepreneurship education, one of my academic fields. The idea was to bring 14 educators from around the world to Canada for a weeklong experience, through which they’d design a new-to-their-students learning experience. Over those five days, we went from boardroom to classroom to mountainous wilderness, not only studying and building a practice in the basics of curriculum design, but also actively designing a project that would lead to significant learning for each of their learners, measure its impact, and disseminate it so others could do the same. We also made sure everyone built really strong relationships with their team members, so they would be supported when they went back to their companies, not-for profit organizations, colleges, and universities to make it all happen. It was an amazing experience and pieces of what is now the CDS started falling into place.

I ran the same program again in 2017, this time together with the United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (USASBE). And then in 2018 I was elected to be USASBE’s first VP Pedagogy and Learning and turned the Go Deep Scholars program into a program at and for the benefit of that organization’s members. That program now runs as the USASBE Teaching and Learning Scholars Program, and this Curriculum Design Studio Course Experience is the suite of approaches I have been developing for years and which I make available as the ‘super textbook’ for the USASBE Scholars.


Today, the Curriculum Design Studio course experience is made up of:

  • An overarching design-thinking based process for designing learning experiences that are at the same time relevant to your context, true to the right learning objectives, meaningful and significant for your learners, and imminently feasible for you (and your team if you have one) to deliver and assess;
  • A series of mini-courses and worksheets that provide actionable content and guidance throughout; and
  • A corresponding series of Look-Back Learning Reflections where you’ll have to capture what you’ve been learning in the moment, to “level-up” and so you can look back later at both the products and processes of your work as you grow – something you’ll have to do in a sort of evidence-based meta-reflection manner in order to get certified. These use a leading-edge video assessment technology.

As mentioned above, it’s currently being made available in a pilot format on this temporary domain, with a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship education. This is in large part to serve the needs of the USASBE Teaching and Learning Scholars Program »

Pretty soon …

The Curriculum Design Studio course experience uses the best available approaches in the educational sciences, design thinking, and instructional design, and it isn’t just for people designing curricula creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

It’ll soon be moving to it’s own permanent location on the web and opening up for public consumption with applications in any disciplinary area – including engineering education right out of the gate and others soon after that. The main idea being to get it off the business-y domain to use more accessible language for educators designing curriculum in any context.

In the meantime, don’t hesitate to be in touch » if you want to learn more or take it for a test drive yourself.

And feel free to check out some of the sample materials using the quick nav icon () at the bottom of any page!



Dr. Alex Bruton, PEng, MBA