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Students shape improvements on StudentHome.

A group of students were invited by the Digital Student Experience (DSE) Team to take part in a study developing the design and layout of StudentHome. The feedback gained in these studies provided creators with improvements to a new StudentHome experience currently being developed, which students will see in the future.

Tammy Alexander, Head of Digital User Experience described the team’s method of testing improvements as a two-part approach: “First, we observed how students use each area of StudentHome as it currently is, to get a good understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Secondly, we showed each student a prototype of the ‘new improved’ StudentHome and asked for their reactions. Testing like this gives a great insight into what students want and how we can improve their experience.”

Sharon Monie, Senior Product Development Manager, continues, “The undergraduate students we met with – from a mix of nations, age groups, subject areas, and points on their educational journey – told us similar things. We already knew from previous research that students find the sheer amount of information we provide overwhelming, but each student demonstrated how they currently use StudentHome. Observing students’ own ways of working validated some of the assumptions we’ve made so far and confirmed planned improvements which will focus on providing necessary study detail up front – such as dates for assessments – to help students get to what they need much more quickly.”

The DSE team noted that students reported that the changes that will be seen on StudentHome as being “clean and modern”, “needing a lot less clicks [to get to what I need]”, “very colourful, bright and welcoming”, “simple to find what you are looking for” and “user-friendly – this would help anyone new to the OU”.

The DSE Team continue to work with larger groups of students to conclude improvement work with the ‘study record’ area. Sharon explains: “The study record is the area students use to access details of past, present, and future studies.”

Clare Withers, System Development Manager, noted that “it’s exciting to hear how our students interact with the resources the OU provides and understand how they find (or don’t find!) the information about their studies. We, as an institution, seem to have a habit of repeating information and giving students various routes to the same information, so I’m working with DSE to help streamline the information we make available and present it in a more user-friendly way.”

Following the great insight from students, the DSE team will work on refining design and content to remove the duplication of information, improve the look and feel, and simplify the whole student journey within the new StudentHome.

In July 2023, they plan to have another round of prototype testing and the next big test after that will be when the new improved StudentHome is made available to some students for user testing in the new platform. A sample of students will be contacted to take part in this testing – please do take the opportunity if you can to help make the new platform the best it can be.

Tammy concludes, “We are working with subject and data experts, design and content colleagues, business owners and bringing in the student voice, so we’re all having the same conversation together. We want to do the right thing for our students, so we’re being very intentional in the way we collaborate and design the new StudentHome. Our testing offers great insights into what students want and how we can improve their experience and certainly gives our team greater confidence we’re doing the right thing.”

Please sign up to our Student Voice mailing list to find out about other opportunities to create positive changes at the OU.