Uncharted Territory

User Researcher | 2018-2019
How might we make higher education work for students of the future?
Higher education is broken - it's expensive, classes don't accurately reflect people's ability, and, perhaps worst of all, there's little room for passion. The d.school at Stanford wanted to find out the pioneers exploring what the future of higher education could be. I worked with a team to interview, synthesize, and create a guidebook for students and faculty searching for a better system.
My Role
As a user researcher for Stanford's d.School I:
  • Created a comprehensive research plan where I identified goals, scoped the project, wrote interview guides for different stakeholders, and made an outreach strategy.
  • Conducted user interviews with students, teachers, professors, school leaders, non-profits, and EdTech companies related to the future of education.
  • Synthesized these findings as part of a team using design frameworks like 2x2's, journey maps, personas, stakeholder maps, and POV statements.
  • My team created a guidebook with case studies and actionable insights for Higher Education institutions to create future-ready programs for students.
User Research
I worked primarily on conducting user research on students studying at unique universities. This included creating interview guides, screening, conducting interviews, and distilling that information into valuable insights.

We started with a very open problem space - what is the future of Higher Education? As we continued to talk to people, synthesize, and iterate, we came to realize that the future of Higher Education is already happening. Schools like Western Governors University, African Leadership University, and College Unbound were already innovating successfully.
With this finding, we pivoted towards a much more actionable question - How might we highlight the innovations already happening in education and enable other schools to create their own programs to better serve their students?

After conducting research, I worked collaboratively with a team of 9 to create frameworks to help us find pain points, opportunity areas, and convey our insights to others. Out of our research, we discovered four main areas in which higher education was currently failing students. We addressed how and why schools should target these themes to provide the best educational experience possible.

We then went into a deeper round of interviews, synthesis, and prototyping with the community we had formed through our work.
Publishing & Continuing Work
The result of this work was a guidebook for innovation in higher education: Uncharted Territory. Published in 2019 and distributed by the d.school, Uncharted Territory condenses all the research the team completed over the year. It highlights macro-trends in education, case studies of innovative institutions, and provides resources for students, educators, and school leaders to innovate at their own schools.

In addition, I brought many of these critical, innovative concepts to my work in providing access to high-quality work-based learning opportunities to students across Hawai'i atPilina Education.