Deakin University is an Australian public university with over 47,000 higher education students. Established in 1974, it has campuses in Geelong, Warrnambool and Burwood, in the state of Victoria. Deakin University is committed to being a world class tertiary education provider by continuously striving for new ways to improve student experiences by ensuring their teaching, research, partnerships and international programs are relevant, innovative and responsive.
Deakin University have a strategic focus to harness the power, opportunity and reach of the digital world. They achieve this vision by empowering their global network of staff and students through the delivery of innovative online resources, services and facilities available anywhere, anytime.
DeakinSync is a personalised online workspace, which provides access to learning tools, enrolment information, study support, timetables, emails and a variety of other collaborative and relevant productivity tools to meet the specific needs of Deakin staff and students.
Key business stakeholders identified a need to refresh the site due to recent feedback from students that it was becoming cluttered with information, difficult to navigate and lacked additional features.
Specifically, students requested enhanced communication and collaboration capabilities; giving them the ability to join and create their own public and private communities relevant to their location and course.
Our approach first and foremost is through user-centered design, to understand the student’s current situation and then look at how we can improve it using technology. It’s a pleasure working with Kloud as their mindset is in alignment with ours. Kloud spent considerable time with our students, through interviews, group sessions and surveys to get a complete picture of their needs, preferences, pain points and the way they interact with our applications. Mapping these interactions, Kloud was able to translate this into a new simplified design that was very elegant and provided our users with an improved digital experience.
- Raymond Cooke - Group Manager, Personalised and Cognitive Platforms
Kloud partnered with Deakin University to deliver a multi-phase user experience project as part of the DeakinSync solution. The first phase of the project addressed the requirement for online collaboration with students in the form of individual groups or communal sites. The university identified a need for DeakinSync Communities – online groups whereby people with common interests, make connections, support each other or even arrange to meet up.
Kloud developed visual designs for a pilot implementation and validated these with students. From these, consultants worked on improving usability and the overall visual design of the proposed layout, taking into account current user flow. Consultants ran a series of one-on-one user interviews, which quickly ascertained the value of DeakinSync Communities, but also that students didn’t realise to what extent DeakinSync Communities could potentially help them.
Following a series of stakeholder workshops, consultants sketched four different design directions for the new DeakinSync Communities. Through ongoing stakeholder engagement and user research, consultants refined, enriched and prototyped the best possible design strategy and solution, ultimately resulting in a feature-rich DeakinSync Communities portal – where students can find the information they need and effectively collaborate with peers.
The second phase of the project targeted the original DeakinSync restoration. The project started with a discovery phase, whereby stakeholder interviews and workshops were conducted to identify the current problems with the site and to map key user journeys. This provided Deakin University with several key outcomes:
- Extenstive reporting on the interviews conducted with students, both internationally and domestically, identifying key feedback and gaining a clear understanding of student experiences using DeakinSync.
- Development and redesign of the existing site structure and information architecture (across desktop, mobile and tablet) to make it easy and intuitive for students to find information
- A series of user testing sessions (task-based) were undertaken with students to validate the redesign of key pages of DeakinSync and DeakinSync Communities.
- A simple visual style for DeakinSync that complemented the user experience.
- A comparison report, focusing on findings from the previous DeakinSync design & validation of the new design from a short field study of students at the university.
DeakinSync is a fully integrated portal that supports students’ learning experience. Ambitious back-end integration and improvements enable a seamless user interface that enables Deakin students to manage everything from their calendar and timetables to online coffee orders through the cloud-based solution. The solution provides:
- Single access point for students to get access to all their tools
- Powerful contextualisation engine to provide a dynamic, personalised experience to each student
- Front-end updates throughout the students’ time at Deakin so that the information is relevant and provides a more tailored learning experience
- Better access to information through redesigned interface
- Greater collaboration between students with online groups and communities