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What’s service got to do with learning?

In this video, Dr Chie Adachi interview Lucy Schultz and Dan Steen from Deakin's CloudCampus about service design in education.
CHIE ADACHI: So in this course, we’ve been learning a lot to do with design. And you are now getting to learn about service design. So could you define what service may mean in the context of education or the work that you do at Cloud Campus?
LUCY SCHULZ: If you start with the student at the centre of your thinking, it actually changes the way of looking and the way of seeing a particular process or activity or transaction. A lot of that starts with talking to students and listening to students. They study anywhere in the world, how can we make sure they feel part of the university, feel part of the course that they’re studying in the same way as a student who might be coming to a physical campus?
DANIEL STEEN: But I guess my take on service design is it brings a bunch of different methodologies together. So you sort of think UX, you think design thinking, then you also think it’s sort of business strategy areas as well. So, it’s sort of that more zoomed out, I guess, our overall customer experience that you’re talking about from beginning to end, not just one single transaction and bringing that human-centred approach to the design along the whole journey.
LUCY SCHULZ: From our perspective, so the three main aspects for the Cloud Campus student to continue to feel connected and motivated, students feeling like they owned their experience, students feeling connected with other students, with teaching staff, with service providers, and being able to see progress in what they’re doing. They’re fairly straightforward aspects to what we’re trying to really build in to every aspect of the student experience. When you put the student at the centre of your thinking, you immediately have to keep challenging yourselves on, OK what’s the value for them? This might sound like a good pedagogy. This might sound like good design for a course. But what’s the value for the student?
We’ve got to try and make sure that the learning experience is the most important part of why they’ve come to study with us and that our service experience has to build around that.
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 about 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 COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, around 25 per cent 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 do or could you apply these ideas to your own practice?


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In the comments, discuss your thoughts about service design and the ideas raised in this video and how they relate to your own digital learning practice.
  1. Dan and Lucy’s roles have changed but were correct at the time of filming.  2
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