System Engineering education typically includes content to help students learn to design and engineer large, complex systems in a structured way. In this paper, we describe the outcomes of introducing a human-centered design tool, the Inspiration Design Toolkit (IDT), to encourage students to think non-linearly. The IDT is an educational resource consisting of a deck of illustrated cards that contain provocative questions, reflection messages and icons, applicative examples, and key takeaways on microlearning units. The aim of the IDT is to improve the participants’ learning experience and course engagement, increase opportunities for them to interact with their peers and teaching team, enable them to practice and reinforce the concepts through the creation of their own IDT cards, and share the cards in the discussion to increase learners’ engagement with course material and peers. We designed the IDT for an MIT online course on System Thinking. We collected, analyzed, and synthesized qualitative and quantitative feedback from 171 course participants. Our findings suggest that IDT provides learners with a digital asset that allows them to reinforce and recall the course takeaways, and apply them to other contexts. For future research, we want to understand how learners like and use IDT through demographic differences and preferred self-identified learning styles. We discuss how these findings may help educators consider critical design principles and for creating a digital self-learning toolkit connected to the course content and increasing its content adaptability.

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