The Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation for California Community Colleges have partnered together to launch the Student Centered Design Lab to help the California Community Colleges “design and decide with the student in mind.”

Housed at the Foundation, the Lab applies design thinking to improve the student experience with the system’s digital tools, communication campaigns and policy initiatives. Offering design, evaluation and research services to project teams through a fee-for-service model, the Lab helps teams gather student feedback more efficiently to incorporate it into their design processes.

The Lab offers a range of services including:

  • Developing wireframes, prototypes, and new or improved end solutions during key stages of the technology development process;
  • Facilitation of student usability testing to determine pain points when navigating digital tools, as well as user interviews, focus groups, surveys and other research methods Student feedback is gathered through both in-person and remote channels to allow students attending community colleges across the state to voice their opinions.

Recently, the Lab team partnered with California Virtual Campus - Online Education Initiative (CVC-OEI). The Lab team conducted student usability testing to determine students’ ease of navigating the system’s online course finder, Finish Faster Online, and the system’s cross-enrollment platform, ExCel. Tool testing revealed opportunities for the product team to increase student understanding through clearer landing page copy, improved search functionality and a simplified enrollment process. The CVC-OEI team is in the process of implementing tool changes based on student feedback to improve the student experience of finding and enrolling in online courses.

The Lab team is also partnering with the Chancellor’s Office to help students navigate financial aid options more easily by redesigning the California College Promise Grant application. The Lab team is in the process of designing and conducting student testing of a streamlined, more student-friendly application in both PDF and online versions.

The Lab’s services are an integral part of the California Community Colleges steadfast commitment to equity and innovation. Its development was preceded by the 2018 Student Journey to Success Project, also a collaboration between the Chancellor’s Office and the Foundation, which was funded by College Futures Foundation and the Stupski Foundation.

The Student Journey to Success Project developed student personas and mapped student journeys to better understand prospective and current students’ interaction points with the system’s digital matriculation tools. Additionally, a set of design principles to overcome student barriers to success rooted in behavioral science was developed by design consultancy ideas42 for the project. 

The Lab’s development is a result of generous initial seed funding provided by College Futures Foundation. Visit the Student Centered Design Lab website now to learn more.