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Figma + Lambda School: Where the remote classroom comes together to learn

Brie Wolfson
Brie Wolfson

As online education becomes a more viable option for anyone, anywhere to learn a new skill, a few programs set themselves apart with engaging curriculums and meaningful missions. That group includes Lambda School, an entirely online, live, instructor-led, 9-month program that teaches professional skills at no upfront cost to students. Lambda School has courses in Web Development, Mobile Development, Data Science, and most recently, added a UX Design program to its roster.

Lambda’s mission is to pioneer a new model of higher education. They want to enable and empower students to gain the skills, guidance, and support they need to kickstart a career in tech. As such, creating a remote-accessible learning environment that feels as connected, hands-on, and collaborative as an in-person classroom is core to their mission.

To do that, Lambda has relied on powerful tools like Figma. The team at Figma joined in for a few lessons to see Lambda in action. Here are some of the ways we observed Lambda + Figma elevating the remote teaching and learning experience.

Going deeper with interactive tools

The Lambda UX course works like this: all of the students in the class join a video conference and the instructor shares their screen to begin the class. In a typical classroom, this is often when the students quiet down and tune in as the instructor advances her slides. In the Lambda classroom, the presentation is a two-way-street. Lessons presented in Figma invite students to go deeper. Whether it’s zooming in to get a better look at a curve, scrolling around to study a particular logo, or pinpointing what someone is talking about thanks to everyone’s visible pointers, even going through slides is a collective activity.

Using Figma, students can zoom in and refer to specific parts of a presentation, even as the teacher presents.

When it comes to design activities, the benefits of collaboration kick into even higher gear. As Elizabeth Lin, a design instructor at Lambda, says, “with all our design lessons at Lambda School, we make sure that there's a collaborative element! Students are more motivated and have more fun when we’re all working together.”

Students create their designs right in Figma from the start and iterate from there. The evolution of each design is visible, providing an amazing opportunity for students to observe, learn from, and provide feedback on each other’s work while it’s still in progress. On top of that, students can remix each other’s work to build their own designs.

“In a recent class about documentation, I watched students build off of each other's designs! They used their classmates' work as inspiration and were able to build and explore together,” Elizabeth described. This not only pushes students to make their work better, but also prepares them to join the professional design teams where many designers are working together to execute on a single project.

Side-by-side feedback and support

For new designers, feedback is one of the most helpful pieces of the learning process. Using Figma, students can tap each other and their instructor for thoughts as they’re designing. “One of Lambda’s principles is to create collaborative communities. We want to make sure students are engaged and feel comfortable providing feedback to each other in every lesson,” Elizabeth says. This is something that feels really natural in the traditional classroom that Lambda wanted to bring to their remote classroom.

3b-stars
Students use stars in Figma to vote for another student’s design.

Thanks to open audio and Figma’s browser-based editor and commenting features, students can enjoy the benefits of working alongside their classmates without the pressure of feeling like they are working on top of one another. (In one class, students even played tunes for each other while they worked).

In times when students want to work without interruption, they can design in their corner of a Figma file while still passively enjoying the benefits of the instructor or classmates observing their work-in-progress files. Onlookers can take notes for later or leave comments on the design itself for asynchronous review. When it comes time for real-time feedback, students can call the instructor or other classmates over to chime in and actually move pixels around with them in the same file. The result is a wellspring of ideas from all participants and more learning for everyone.

A permanent record of work

Lambda’s mission doesn’t end at teaching people new skills. Not only does the school hold off on charging students for the program until they’ve landed a job, but they also match people with expert career coaches, local mentors, and their nationwide network of hiring partners. To show employers what they are capable of, students (especially design students) need a portfolio.

Since each student’s designs were created, iterated on, and stored all along the way in Figma, the portfolio-creation process becomes a lot easier. Figma saves and organizes everything so students can focus on nailing the interview, not sorting through old files to piece together a portfolio. Students also have access to classmates’ work, so even after a lesson, they can continue to learn from each other.

As design continues to expand its reach and impact, we love seeing programs like Lambda School that educate and support the next generation of designers!

Learn more about Lambda School on their website.

If you’re using Figma in your classroom, we’d love to see how! Tag us on Twitter @figmadesign or email us at education@figma.com.

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