In just six weeks we designed and built a communications platform that worked across all devices, irrespective of where a student came from. We overcome unique complexities of regional tech blackouts and working within the University’s existing systems and technology to create a welcoming digital experience for incoming students.
Web application development
Google App Engine
Upgrowth were engaged in partnership with the Beanstalk Factory to create a digital community platform that encouraged useful and positive social interactions between the international student intake, existing students and staff.
Monash University knew it was important for new students to have a support base when they arrived, but were finding that wasn't always the case for their international students.
Student Services saw an opportunity to make new students feel welcomed into the Monash Community from the moment they enrolled from the first steps of socially connecting, to finding friends and creating an ongoing support network.
We ran an exploration and ideation workshop, including representatives of University staff, international students and business owners. This resulted in a wide view of ideas, desirable features, pain points and associated emotions.
Following this we ran a journey mapping process for students, speaking to them about their experiences, from learning they had been accepted through to ending their first semester. Taking the specific callouts from their stories and coupling it with the ideation workshop we were able to define a number of product ideas.
We further developed these ideas into a concrete concept - a combination of chat platform and social network. The goal was to make new students feel welcomed into the Monash Community from the moment they enrolled; from the first steps of socially connecting, to finding friends and creating an ongoing support network.
A communications platform that encouraged useful and positive social interactions between new international students, existing students and staff.
Our delivery process included constant design iteration, incorporating feedback from many rounds of user-testing. It was essential we understood how the core users intended on using it, with usability catering for all different cultures and backgrounds. Within the solution, senior students were to act as moderators and we engaged them as a user cohort to understand their needs. Finally, University staff and faculty members were acting as administrators so their requirements and special tasks had to be understood and defined.
The platform we built allowed for instant group messaging and one-on-one chat in a safe, secure environment. Students were able to find like-minded individuals with similar interests before they’d even arrived, and an interactive map allowed them to see where from and how many others were studying the same course as them.
We gave Monash the ability to run an Alpha trial which was highly successful. During the trial a number of core functionality, features and processes were tested with students and staff.
All the feedback was synthesised and prioritised into product features. With early adopters on the platform, we could see how students were actually using the platform.
The success of the product resulted in a subsequent release expanding the user base to include all of Monash’s student intake for the current semester and additional moderators and staff.
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