Snap AR Learning: Building Augmented Reality Curriculum to Accelerate the Future

Partnering with Snap Inc. to empower and grow its global network of Augmented Reality innovators and creators through inclusive learning and experiences.

Project Overview

At Next Shift Learning (NSL), we empower innovators with inclusive learning content and experiences that drive growth. So when Snap Inc. wanted to accelerate the adoption and maturation of Lens Studio, its market-leading Augmented Reality platform, they turned to NSL for help.

Our team of learning experts developed user-centered, self-paced courses using our deep understanding of targeted learner personas and our competency approach. The custom curriculum tied to Snap’s goal to up-level and empower all creators and developers.

Our partnership with the Snap AR Learning team to develop the AR curriculum was spurred by our ongoing partnership with the Snap Global Philanthropy team to develop AR education and instruction. NSL proudly operates the Snap Lens Challenge and the Snap Lens Academy, which offer AR exposure and education to under-represented talent. We are honored to help Snap continue to innovate and lead in the AR space.

Miranda - @SoCaliRandi

Devin - @dmadesignstudio

Chrissy - @jchrissystevens

Defining the Problem

To maximize their reach as a global platform, Snap was looking to develop online learning content that was easy to jump into. It was essential that whatever we developed met the needs of their multicultural audience and celebrated their full expression and creativity.

Our curriculum design needed to not only fit into a Learning Management System, but be flexible enough to adapt and adjust over time. After all, who doesn’t like to keep things fresh? Together we explored, “How can we get to know our audience and create online content for global AR developers and creators that not only increases their levels of competency, but keeps them motivated by and engaged with Lens Studio?”

Building a Solution

Snap AR Learning

Developed in 2022, as custom online AR course and training material targeted to Snap’s learning audience to upskill — from beginner to intermediate-to-advanced levels — on the Lens Studio platform. The content is accessible at a click so creators can progress at their own pace and in their own time to access relevant content. We built a unique pathway away from templates to help learners build more interactive and customized Lenses by combining new tools and features to support professionals in their everyday workflows around Lens Studio.

Snap AR Lens Challenge

An annual three-week global challenge, designed and operated by NSL, for beginners to understand the possibilities of building in AR. The self-paced content is coupled with live learning sessions to support and inspire learners to join the movement to develop the latest and greatest in innovative and original Lenses. The program launched in the U.S. in 2020 in Los Angeles and expanded nationally and internationally to the U.K. in 2021 and 2023 respectively.

Snap Lens Academy

Launched in 2021, a nine-week educational training program that upskills 2D and 3D design beginners to a more intermediate level of AR creation and development. NSL works alongside intermediate and advanced AR professionals to build, update and maintain the curriculum. Additionally, NSL operates the annual program including scholar recruiting, application and selection, instructor training, volunteer support, and logistics. The learning experience is implemented virtually with a cohort of 15 scholars across the U.S. in varying time zones.


NSL Journey to Support Snap AR Learning Courses: A Different Approach to Customer Education

NSL’s support for the NSL Snap Lens AR Learning curriculum was preceded by two AR learning programs addressing distinct learners with different learning approaches. This journey demonstrates NSL’s capabilities to adaptively create distinct experience to support an evolving AR ecosystem.

Developed the U.S. Snap AR Lens Challenge Pilot

Our goal was to provide high school and college students with exposure to AR learning by developing a Lens creation challenge. The challenge was available via four live sessions of self-paced content over three weeks each year.

Snap Lens Academy Launches

We created project-based learning for AR development to inspire and deepen interest in beginner learners. Community college students and recent transfer learners were paid to participate in the virtual Academy program, led by multidisciplinary teams over nine weeks. The program is now available annually.

Snap AR Self-Paced Curriculum Goes Live

To propel lifelong learners with foundational skills, we launched self-paced Snap AR learning experiences for intermediate-to-advanced creators and developers through video and eLearning experiences and self-assessments.

Expansion to U.K. Snap AR Lens Challenge

To broaden the scope of opportunity, we worked with Snap to launch the Snap AR Lens Challenge to U.K.-based learners.


Building a best-in-class
AR product curriculum

Taking a learner-centered approach to customer education

Getting to Know Our Learners

We knew from the start that understanding Snap’s target audience would be essential to create an engaging curriculum that went beyond product documentation and tutorial videos. We conducted interviews with developers from diverse backgrounds to build learning profiles and understand what motivates them and the barriers they face when learning.

Our interviews revealed valuable insights, such as which modes of learning and artifacts (think videos and templates) were most helpful for developers and creators in their learning journey. We discovered that the templates available on Snap's website were the most used resource as a starting point by our learners.

We realized that developing a “choose your own path” approach increased not only the inclusivity of the development of the content, but its relevance and usefulness to learners. Getting AR developers the knowledge they need, when they need it, enabled them to move past barriers in their learning and advance the complexity of the Lenses they were developing — whether for fun, a brand, or global client.

Building the Dream Team

Creating a custom AR curriculum that upleveled learners from beginner-to-intermediate-to-advanced required a team with complementary skill sets. Despite our expertise in learning design (and an intermediate skill set in programming), our team lacked the mastery in comprehension of the Lens Studio platform and its features that our learners would need to to access relevant content that would help them stand out in the field. That's why we called in AR subject matter experts to work alongside our curriculum developers to fill in the gaps.

Together, we broke down the process of Lens development into easily digestible chunks and created a well-thought-out experience that combined the science of how people learn with real-life scenarios and decisions that developers face in their own Lens development. The complementary skill set of our team helped push the project forward and ensured the curriculum was comprehensive and effective.

Powering Lifelong Learning

AR technology is evolving, and it was critical for our program to not only focus on teaching how to use Lens Studio, but how to continue exploring and learning the platform throughout its continuous development as the ecosystem evolves. To achieve this, we embraced design thinking concepts such as brainstorming and prototyping to encourage developers to push their thinking outside of the box.

We wanted to emphasize that templates and resources are only tools to support the key ingredient of the curriculum: the developer's imagination and creativity. By fostering an open mindset and using design thinking methodologies, we encourage developers to embrace change and innovation in their Lens development process.

Customer testimonials

We partner closely with our customers, acting as an extension of their team. Here's what they have to say about NSL.

“Next Shift Learning is a team of top-notch professionals that make a partnership easy. They bring adult learning principles, state-of-the-art thinking and exceptional project management to every initiative. Without them, we would have never been able to successfully launch this novel approach to customer education.”

Stacey Long-Genovese, PhD

Global Head of Education, Learning and Training

“NSL continues to be a strategic thought partner that we rely on when launching and expanding educational curriculum with participants globally. They ask thoughtful questions, provide relevant insights and co-design alongside our team which has allowed us to deliver meaningful and impactful programs together for all learners.”

Lindsey Heisser

Manager, Global Philanthropy

Snap’s online courses are currently under development but will launch soon.
Come back for more details in late Spring 2023.


Three SMC Interaction Design Students Win Top Awards in Annual Snap, Inc. Lens Challenge

SMC Bachelor of Science in Interaction Design seniors Devin Anderson, Miranda White, and Chrissy Stevens won first, second, and third place, respectively in a nationwide Snap Lens Challenge—a Snapchat lens design competition annually held by Snap Inc., sponsored by Snap Philanthropy and its curriculum partner Next Shift Learning.

Miranda - @SoCaliRandi

Devin - @dmadesignstudio

Chrissy - @jchrissystevens

Excited to read about our work?

Let us help you propel your people and teams forward with the right learning solutions. Trust NSL for knowledgeable, experienced, and approachable product education that drives success.