A HUMAN-CENTERED APPROACH TO BUILDING STRATEGIES

Soup to nuts, turning MO Studio’s first project into an unforgettable experience

Student debt has ballooned into a ~$1.3 trillion (that’s trillion with a ‘t’) crisis yet higher education leaders rarely engage their students for feedback and adjust their product — education — or their technologies to meet the rapidly changing needs of their students.

Evolving higher education industry mindsets, skillsets and approaches to be more student centric will be critical for institutions to innovate, stay relevant and deliver value to students.

MO Studio set out on a journey in the fall of 2016 to help their client, the CIO of USC’s Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism, challenge his current assumptions and adopt a new approach through student-centered design.

MO Studio was asked to reimagine a traditional student technology survey and to co-design a platform that provides insight that drives the strategy of how to best support the school’s academic vision. MO Studio’s team used three How Might We questions as their North Star throughout the engagement.

The engagement included multiple ideation, synthesis and co-design sessions with students, staff and leadership.

The MO Studio team facilitating an ideation session with the Annenberg team

In July of 2017 two members of the MO Studio project team, Jeff Scheire and Sue Tan, along with their client, James Vasquez, shared their experience at the Campus Technology Conference in Chicago, IL.

James, Sue and Jeff presenting at the Campus Technology Conference

The project engagement, outcomes and impact were presented to higher education leaders as 1.) challenges, 2.) solutions and 3.) recommendations.

To start the conversation, James discussed some things that keep him awake at night.

In true design thinking fashion — Sue, Jeff and James prepositioned post-its at each seat and incorporated a group ideation session at the beginning of their discussion:

The team provided transparency into their findings and visibility into the actions that were taken to address the opportunity areas:

The engagement was boiled down into five tips for developing human-centered technology strategies:

Throughout the presentation, the dialogue with the audience was engaging. The post-it notes and ideas from the group ideation session were quickly synthesized during the presentation into a few insights and woven into the dialogue and Q&A with the audience. They naturally articulated a few HMW statements. How Might We…

…get the most and better value out of technology?
…deliver more student-centric experiences and services?
…keep up with standard of 24 hour ubiquitous services with limited resources?
…turn-around organizational resistance to change?
…protect stakeholders in an increasingly hostile security environment?
Synthesized Post-its from audience ideation session

The questions with the audience continued long after the presentation was done and the experience was turned into an article by EdTech Magazine. The audience engagement, Q&A and article showcased the impact of the overall engagement, relevance of the approach and interest in the presentation topic:

USC Succeeds at Human-Centered Design for Tech: Higher education experts share five tips to improve technology strategies.”

The MO Studio team and James started the project with a belief that still holds true today…

There has never been a better time to look at the challenges higher education faces through a human-centered lens

Let these learnings and opportunities be the foundation for transformational change from the bottom-up. How might we apply this approach to your most challenging problems?