Designing a Future Vision for Lifelong Learning
- Meld Studios
- RMIT Online
Online education is transforming how we learn, and the business of learning. While international education is Victoria’s greatest service export, flexible learning also supports the local skills transformation required of 21st century economies.
RMIT Online prepares Australians for the future of work by creating industry-led courses, delivered through world-class learning design, to equip graduates with 21C enterprise and digital skills.
Meld Studios helped RMIT Online to research and understand what’s important for online learners. We then prototyped, tested and iterated a range of concepts with learners and mentors to shape a target state vision for RMIT Online’s products and services.
RMIT Online has been setup to disrupt and innovate the way education is delivered through an online environment. Our goal was to discover why people want to learn online to inform RMIT Online’s strategic roadmap.
The project required balancing a deep and rigorous approach to design research — to ensure insights were taken seriously by the university — with a broad participatory approach to engagement to embed these insights in the multiple workstreams of RMIT Online.
Prototyping and testing experience concepts with learners and mentors also helped build credibility and confidence in the feasibility and viability of the future vision.
This strategic design project impacted RMIT Online in two key ways:
Operationally, we created and tested a set of concepts that RMIT Online teams could roll out with confidence; defining quick wins for key experiences (like deferring) and identifying more targeted research required for deeper challenges.
Strategically, we helped shift the mental model of learning services and touchpoints from a linear to a more systemic model, reflective of RMIT Online’s aspirations to support a community of lifelong learners. This systemic model has been shared across the University more broadly, increasing shared understanding and strategic alignment across the enterprise.
Involving staff from across RMIT Online in all aspects of the research, sense-making, prototyping and testing reflects our values of designing *with* organisations rather than just *for* them.
In this instance, it not only ensured that the insights developed through this process stay alive – working this way also built a broad capability for sustaining a customer-centric approach beyond the life of this project.
Examples of universities co-designing with students are surprisingly rare.
We took a deliberate approach to engage with *all* the people involved in online learning, drawing these perspectives together into a future vision that’s desirable for learners to engage with, feasible for RMIT Online to deliver, and viable for the wider university to undertake.
Key innovations include:
Designing a systemic mental model of online learning, shifting from individual episodic transactions to a cyclical lifelong engagement
Articulating a holistic set of principles and supporting concepts that build a shared strategic language across the enterprise
“Meld Studios helped our rapidly growing teams understand what\’s important for students and how our products and services can align around these insights to support lifelong learners as they navigate the future of work. Being engaged in research and testing has built a deep awareness of how students study online, and our capability to sustain these ways of working across the organisation.”
— Helen Souness, RMIT Online CEO