BOSTON, Jan. 25, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- As higher, professional, and continuing education institutions move from application to acceptance season, Story+Structure, specialists in human-centered design, encourages colleges and universities to reevaluate their approach to prospective students' online, mobile, and app experiences.
According to a recent study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, by the year 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.
"With our global economy and ever-changing economic and tech landscape, many studies have shown that people will change careers 3-4 times in a lifetime. This positions professional and continuing education units across the country to be the education epicenter for the next 100 years! The adult learner is the new 'traditional student,'" says Chokdee Rutirasiri, founder and CEO of Story+Structure. "However, in order for education providers to meet demands and expectations, there must be an understanding of how students are engaging with their institutions – this requires a move beyond out-of-date policies, technologies, and traditional structures and an embracing of the human being's true wants, need, and behavior in order to foster great student experiences."
For example, Story+Structure has helped institutions such as California State University, East Bay (CSUEB) Continuing Education, Berklee School of Music, and the Boston Center for Adult Education successfully evolve their approach to reaching prospective and current students. In November 2015, their work with CSUEB was honored with awards in the Most Improved Division and in the website category of the Interactive Media Division at the UPCEA (University Professional & Continuing Education Association) Marketing and Enrollment Management Seminar. And in April 2016, Story+Structure will be speaking alongside leaders from UCLA, California State University, and the University of Houston at the UPCEA 2016 Annual Conference in San Diego on how a human-centered design process is key to crafting successful student experiences.
Beginning with a "Discovery Engagement" phase for CSUEB, Story+Structure designed a student experience that offers the simplest and fastest workflow possible. By aggregating a variety of services from CSUEB's initial enrollment process, the firm developed thoughtful brand experience through clear and concise messaging, detailed program and course descriptions, and a responsive communication system that doubles as a receipt for payments. From the students' perspective, the "shopping" approach to registration is now much more intuitive. Moreover, what would have taken days to accomplish previously now takes a mere moment.
A human-centered design approach evaluates a college or university's student engagement experience from a holistic point of view by examining the interactions among people, processes, and systems. It helps identify, build, and sustain key relationships found throughout the organization on a more human, personal level.
"Much effort and money is put into attracting students to enroll," acknowledges Mr. Rutirasiri. "But when it comes time for new students to register for classes and other online activities, the technology in place is often challenging to navigate and quite the opposite of user-friendly. And, as we approach 2020, the brand experience a student has with an institution will become critically important as it will enable a lifetime of loyalty and interaction."
To evaluate the needs of each unique institution, Story+Structure enters into a "Discovery Engagement" phase. During the engagement, Story+Structure takes a "tabula rasa" approach by examining all parties and touch points along a student's journey from interactions with school administrators to technology systems. By taking an unbiased, third person approach to the discovery phase, Story+Structure is able to hear and understand what is working, what needs improvement, and what the school should plan to do next from fixing the basics to innovating. Human-centered design mitigates risk by turning over the entire student journey and focusing on key and critical needs.
"This process can be a very eye-opening experience for our clients," shares Mr. Rutirasiri. "Often times, many clients will tell us 'it feels like therapy'. The issues professors and students share with us are ones the administration had never been made aware of. These reevaluations and realignments are ones that many institutions should aim to undertake over the next few years to ensure their continued success."
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Story+Structure is an innovation design firm that solves human problems. From strategy to implementation, we deliver solutions that promote meaningful engagement between people and organizations. For more information, please visit www.storyandstructure.com, and join the Human Centered Design and User Experience Discussion Group on LinkedIn.