Categories: General

Helping the Commons Thrive: A mentorship opportunity with Bauhaus University UX students

This Spring, the Mozilla UX team is helping mentor a class on design methodologies at Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. The class will explore the question: “How can we make the commons thrive?”.

Jan Dittrich, who teaches the class at the professorship for interface design, reached out to our UX team about giving his students an interesting design challenge to apply what they’re learning in class. We decided to partner with Creative Commons through Mozilla alum and CC Director of Product Strategy, Dan Mills, to find a topic that was relevant to Jan’s students and to both organizations.

Understanding the Commons and magnifying its positive impact is a topic that’s highly important to Mozilla. We have a great community of contributors who advocate for our mission and continually make our products better. We’d like to continue helping this community thrive and address new needs as it grows.

The Mozilla UX team is also particularly interested in the idea of growing a community of UX contributors. Many of Mozilla’s volunteers contribute to our code and we’ve established tools and processes to allow them to do that. We’d like to explore the ways we can encourage a community of designers, user researchers,  prototypers, and other design practitioners to shape our product. We’re hoping that the work Jan’s students produce might enlighten us in building this community as well.

Lastly, as UX practitioners, our team feels strongly about helping others grow in our field. We’re very excited to have a chance to connect with students and mentor them through the design process. Zhenshuo Fang, Bram Pitoyo, Tony Santos, Bill Selman, and I will be the primary contacts for the students, and we will definitely post updates on this blog as the term continues.

Jan’s thoughts on the collaboration:


An interdisciplinary team of students of the Bauhaus University Weimar is looking forward to envision answers to the question “how can we make the commons thrive?”. I am happy to guide the students and to help them to find solutions while learning the basics of human centered design.

Our project will be supported by members of Mozilla’s UX team and Dan Mills (Director of Product Strategy) from CC. They will mentor the student teams. The topic is an interesting one, as we have the challenge to deal with copyright and licences in addtion to the process of the mere creation of works. Licences are not tangible and on the surface dissimilar to what design students usaually deal with. But beyond the superficial differences I see exiting possiblities. Creative Commons already embraced a rather designerly way e.g. with the concept of the easy-to-understand deeds; and the licences as well aim for being useable and useful. Seen from this perspective, our topic fits very well for a design project.

People who use or could use Creative Commons Licences are put in the center of our concerns so, we don’t have a priori ways to answer the question. The students may explore solutions ranging from classic tools like applications or websites  to services and beyond. For finding solutions that serve the needs of the users, students will be introduced to needfinding methods – like rapid ethnography–, idea generation and testing of solutions. I was preparing the class during the previous months and applied quite some human centered design methods to the teaching concept as well: I met with students, interviewed them, reviewed documentations of previous projects and tested whether novel ways to explain and practice methods work like I expected.

Having the possibility to work with Creative Commons and the Mozilla UX Team is simply awesome and we are looking forward to our project with them.