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How Service Relates With learning

Discover the role of service design in education.

According to Stickdorn and Schneider (2012),

when you have two coffee shops right next to each other, and each sells the exact same coffee at the exact same price, service design is what makes you walk into one and not the other
(p. 25)
To extend our understanding of the role of design in (digital) learning, we’ll now combine this with the notion of ‘service’ as a way of thinking more holistically about the journey of digital learners.

What is Service Design?

The concept of service design has long been used in various domains such as healthcare, business, and product innovation. However, the concept of service in education is still relatively new even though, somewhat ironically, it has a long tradition of design practice.
In their latest work (and one of the very few papers about service design in education), Carvalho and Goodyear note that:
Design activity in education has fragmented into two rather separate areas: macro-level work on educational planning and administration and micro-level work on instructional design. These have very different labour forces and methodologies. While there is a growing acknowledgement of the need for services that integrate around the learner, there is – as yet – very little awareness of how service design and innovation strategies can be used to tackle the complex problems thereby entailed, and to connect macro, meso and micro levels.
(2018, p. 31)

Service design is thus an area easily neglected in education, but it’s also what makes a real difference in creating premium online learning experiences.

Case Study: Service Design in Deakin’s Cloud Campus

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, around 25 percent of Deakin’s student cohort (ie approx. 15,000 students) learnt wholly online as part of Deakin’s Cloud Campus, one of the five recognised campuses at Deakin University.

The Cloud Campus team has been mapping the full learning journey of Cloud Campus students by identifying pain points and ways to support their learning as a holistic experience – all the way from considering Deakin as a prospective university to graduating and being job-ready. There was a deep recognition of Cloud Campus students’ specific needs and unique skill sets to succeed in learning online at the university. This recognition has led to successfully guiding and transitioning our Deakin students and teachers to our Cloud Campus at scale in 2020 during the crisis.

Your Task

Watch the video to learn more about service design in education as Chie talks to Lucy Schulz1 and Daniel Steen1 from Deakin’s Cloud Campus team about how they’ve been applying the service design model to improve the experience of students learning online at Deakin.

One of the statements that Lucy makes in this video is about enabling opportunities for students to digitally connect with other learners, teaching staff, and Deakin support.

Based on your professional context, how could you apply these ideas to your own practice?


  1. Dan and Lucy’s roles have changed but were correct at the time of filming.  2
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Transforming Digital Learning: Learning Design Meets Service Design

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