Session Abstracts


Session abstracts - Tuesday 17th September

UX in Education Multiplied
Ben Holliday, Chief Design Officer; and Tash Willcocks, Head of Learning Design, TPXimpact

In this keynote session, Ben Holliday and Tash Willcocks will introduce themes for the day, focusing on how UX can help us to deliver impact through digital transformation in Education. The session will focus on how we lead as individuals in our institutions. It will explore what needs to change, and how we need to work together across our systems, teams and organisations. We know we face difficult challenges, but through shared power, leadership and understanding, we can focus together on how Higher Education can achieve more with digital transformation in the future.

Building bridges into accessibility research
Ayala Gordon, Associate Director for Digital User Experience and Sara Cunha, Senior User Researcher, University of Southampton

How do you build a bridge into the world of inclusive research?

When it comes to the topic of inclusive design, you often learn about the 'why' but no one tells you about the 'how'. We know accessibility needs to be at the core of what we do, but how do you gain access to users with access needs in the first place? How do you build it into your Research Operations processes in a consistent and ethical way?

In this talk, Ayala and Sara will share some lessons learnt when it comes to setting up accessibility research.

Making the case for service design in Higher Education- creating change from the inside out
Val Mitchell,Senior Lecturer, Loughborough University

Drawing on over 15 years of experience leading experience and service design teaching at Loughborough University and 4 years on secondment at the Service Design Agency Snook, Val will share her reflections on how to make the case for Service Design within Higher Education organisations. She will present practical tips for persuading stakeholders and colleagues to invest in Human Centred Design covering, for example, the value of using systemic thinking to break down silos, understanding your sphere of influence and the importance of prioritising doing over telling as the way to evidence value.

Transforming the Student Digital Experience
Kris Purdy, Head of Digital Experience, University of Glasgow

The Digital Experience Team at University of Glasgow: newly formed & ready to map the unknown in a highly devolved institution.

The team embarked on an ambitious Digital Landscape Audit to quantify the digital experience across 25+ digital platforms. Covering the entire student lifecycle, every platform was evaluated against 9 core digital design principles.

The audit baselined experience, helping to foster a culture of collaboration. By making the findings open to staff & students, we encourage them to actively participate in transforming their digital experiences.

Explore the transformative power of auditing, collaboration & open resources in enhancing digital experience.

Inclusive Programme Review: Service design application to student experience
Radka Newton, Professor in Management Education and Innovation, Lancaster University

The Inclusive Programme Review method that has been developed as a service design approach to holistic understanding of student experience during their University degree programme. The innovative practice presented in this paper is based on a scholarship project Investigation into service design approach to the annual programme review practices (2018 – 2022) that was run as an iterative participatory action research project across three UK Universities with over 100 participants from a range of Higher Education degree programmes. The method facilitates an enriched understanding of student learning journeys through University degree programmes taking into consideration their emotions, dreams, frustrations and fears.

Get in early: UX and Evidence-based procuring
Chris Sherwood, Quality Assurance and User Experience Lead, Swansea University

An appetite for risk-averse procured locked-down platforms appears to be a trend in the HE sector, certainly at my institution. This is a challenge for usability as often we lose control to a third-party and problems cannot be fixed. How do we ensure they offer good UX and meet accessibility guidelines? Getting past the sales talk, understanding user pain points, giving our users great products with platform constraints. Join us for this session to discuss case studies and offer insights into approaches to this.

Communicating the benefits of UX to everyone who needs to hear it
Ned Potter, Faculty Engagement Manager: Community + UX, University of York

Communication is key to effective UX. How do we successfully recruit fieldwork participants? How do we talk more about the benefits of User Experience and less about the features? How do we collaborate with colleagues across our organisations without scaring them off? Most importantly, how do we turn that whole-hearted Management support for ethnography, into a similar level of enthusiasm for wide-spread design changes?

This interactive workshop aims to equip everyone with the tools they need to tell the story of their UX work, to talk so key stakeholders will listen, and to help embed UX fully in the culture.

Drawing insights: unveiling user behaviours through cognitive mapping in UX
Catherine Broadley, Systems and Discovery Librarian; and Prakash Chauhan, Manchester Metropolitan University

At Manchester Met University Library, we have been using cognitive mapping as a technique to gain insight into what our students really think. This workshop will provide an exploration of cognitive mapping as an effective UX tool with active participation and the chance to experience firsthand the power of drawing as a tool for ideation and exploration. We will also showcase its successful application in two areas: understanding motivations when choosing a study space and analysing user behaviour when using laptops in the library. We have seen valuable insights into the thought processes and decision-making patterns of our users.

From digital anarchy to order – how implementing a design system is helping collaboration, creativity and consistency at UCL
Samantha Fanning, Product Manager for Digital Experience, University College London

While our design system is helping collaboration, creativity and consistency at UCL, we’re thinking ‘what does Better look like’. In this interactive session, we’ll share how our approach to design systems is evolving and draw on our experiences grappling with questions and challenges to prompt discussions and conversations with those attending.

Researching and designing inclusive and accessible experiences for staff and students
Funso Oyolola, UX Lead Information and Digital Services, Keele University

The focus is on methodologies that can be used to reach the diverse community represented in the HE institution. Answers need to be sought out to effectively cater to a wide spectrum of users. As UX-ers it is our responsibility to lift the invisible barriers that limit inclusive and accessible experience to a certain group. This begins with how we structure the research activities and participant selection.

This is an opportunity to explore and make UX exciting. Certain steps cannot be ignored such as communication techniques, methodologies, learning the appropriate language to gain the trust and interest of users. 

Data as a Service: Enhancing User-Centric Education
Stephanie Carlson, Data Scientist, University of Cambridge

In today's educational landscape, harnessing data effectively is pivotal to enhancing the user experience. This talk explores the transformative potential of Data as a Service (DaaS) in educational settings. By centralising access to data, institutions can streamline decision-making processes, optimise student services, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. We delve into real-world case studies illustrating the tangible benefits and challenges of implementing DaaS, emphasising its role in shaping a user-centric educational experiences. We discuss how data as a service can revolutionise educational practices, ensuring institutions remain agile and responsive to evolving user needs. 

Scaling research – using visuals and maps to make decisions and address big challenges
Ben Richards, User Experience Research Lead and Amelia Johnson, User Experience Researcher, University of Exeter

UX research, our understanding of our students and the resulting artefacts can have a big impact on how we influence people across universities. We’ll share our journey so far and look at how we use research, maps and behavioural segments to help our Design and Product colleagues make decisions, before exploring how we’re growing our UXR activities and outputs to affect digital transformation and tackle the bigger challenges in HE. 

Leveraging UX principles for better educational technology procurement: a case study in digital assessment at the University of Cambridge
Sylwia Dzula, Senior User Researcher, and David Marshall, User Research & Data Science Team Lead, University of Cambridge

In the procurement of vendor supplied products, there is an opportunity to apply user experience (UX) principles from the outset, to ensure approaches and decisions are aligned with user needs. This talk will discuss how the University of Cambridge User Research team integrated UX techniques into the procurement of a centrally supported digital assessment solution. It will address the challenges of marrying user needs with traditional administrative processes and the long-term benefits of embedding UX in large-scale procurements. This talk will explore how the user-centred integration of technology into the broader educational service ecosystem can enhance efficacy and user satisfaction.