Exploring Student Success with Design Thinking

A Design Thinking Workshop with West Arete

Session Findings Report

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Higher Ed CIOs are tasked with navigating a complex landscape of challenges to enhance the student experience in an era of digital transformation. Human-centered design is essential for them because it ensures the development of innovative technology solutions that are deeply aligned with the needs of students, faculty, and administrators. By prioritizing the end user’s experience and leveraging human-centered design methodologies, CIOs can effectively address the demand for seamless access to campus resources and support academic excellence with cutting-edge tech tools. This approach not only meets today’s technological expectations but also adapts to the evolving academic landscape, making it a critical strategy for CIOs aiming to foster a comprehensive and engaging educational environment.


 

Design Thinking Exercise #1

Journey Mapping

Journey mapping serves as a powerful tool for visualizing the experiences of individuals, particularly focusing on students’ interactions with technology at your institution. This method provides a comprehensive way to capture and understand the current situation, identify key touchpoints, and evaluate the influence of each segment in the journey.

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Objective

Capture thoughts that identify tech-related challenges and opportunities within a student’s educational journey.

Instructions

Step 1    

Reflect: Consider the stages of a student’s journey. Reflect on your observations, experiences, and insights related to each stage.

Write: On the sticky notes provided, jot down tech challenges and opportunities related to the student experience. Aim for three contributions to the map, but feel free to add more if inspiration strikes.

Place: Stick your notes on the large poster map in the corresponding section for each stage of the journey and focus area. If you’re unsure where your idea fits best, don’t worry—just place it where you feel it contributes most.

Share: After placing your sticky notes, take a few moments to review the contributions from other participants. This is a resource for understanding broader challenges and opportunities.

 

Benefits of this Method

  • Fosters empathy towards users
  • Identifies key touchpoints and pain points
  • Encourages cross-functional collaboration
  • Helps identify opportunities for improvement
  • Decisions are grounded in user needs and behaviors rather than assumptions
  • Facilitates clearer communication
  • Promotes user-centered thinking

 

Design Thinking Exercise #2

Priority Grouping

When working on a project, it’s easy to think everything is equally important and needs immediate attention. True success comes from focusing on what needs to be done right now and setting aside less urgent tasks. This approach involves using a priority grouping template that limits how much you can prioritize at once - in this case, in 6 months increments - encouraging you and your team to carefully consider what to prioritize first. Making trade-offs is part of the process, but it leads to a clear understanding of what matters most, simplifying tough decision-making and preventing overwhelm.

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Objective

Independently map out your institution’s specific needs, highlighting challenges and opportunities, to begin prioritizing actions that can enhance student success.

Instructions

Step 1

Reflect: Review the contributions from the Journey Map and consider which thoughts or events are particularly relevant to you, your role, and/or your institution.

Write: Write down copies of six stickies – either your original thoughts from the Journey Map, or inspiration from what others wrote.

Step 2

Prioritize: Choose the most important stickies and prioritize them based on timeline. Remember, if everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority.

Place: Position your chosen stickies on the priority map. Items requiring immediate attention or having significant impact should move closer to the center, symbolizing their level of importance.

 

Benefits of this method

  • Identify the most critical tasks that need attention first.
  • Encourage meaningful conversations about priorities.
  • Create agreement among team members on what to focus on.
  • Guide your team in creating a structured timeline for action.

 

Design Thinking Exercise #3

Idea Chain

This activity starts with one person sharing an idea, and then the next person adds something new to it, building a longer chain. This keeps going around the group, with everyone adding their own twist. The idea grows and changes, getting better each time someone adds to it. The Idea chain method is great for when you need fresh, creative ideas and want to make sure everyone in your team can contribute. It’s a fun, easy way to work together and come up with something no one person might have thought of on their own.

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Objective

Briefly explore potential solutions based on priorities through peer review and feedback.

Instructions

Step 1

Initiate: Select one of the ideas placed in the center (6-month section) of your Priority Map.

Write: Craft a simple, clear idea that addresses this priority. Aim for solutions that are practical. Please write as legibly as possible.

 

Step 2

Exchange: When directed, pass your idea to the left to share with Reviewer 1.

Review & Suggest: Reviewer 1 examines the proposed solution, offering a tip or insight to bolster the idea, drawing from personal experience or expertise.

 

Step 3

Second Exchange: On cue, pass the idea to your left once more to introduce it to Reviewer 2.

Review & Augment: Reviewer 2, examine the idea and the first round of feedback. Add your own insights or a new tip for success, drawing upon your experience or creative thinking.

Return: After the second round of feedback, pass the paper back to the right twice, returning it to its originator.

 

Benefits of this Method

  • Each person in the team has a chance to speak up.
  • Sometimes, in group discussions, some voices are louder than others. Idea chain makes sure everyone’s ideas get the same attention.
  • When a team works together on an idea, they feel more connected to it. This method encourages teamwork and shared success.
  • As the idea moves from person to person, it gets new additions and changes. This can lead to really unique and unexpected results.

 

Worksheet Downloads

Journey Mapping

Design Thinking Exercise #1

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Priority Grouping

Design Thinking Exercise #2

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Idea Chain

Design Thinking Exercise #3

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Let’s Connect

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