Meeting for the new CS website with students

Executive Summary

1. CS website doesn’t serve the current students’ needs

Students find the current website not informative and malfunctioning. This is caused by many factors: the website doesn’t provide information that concerns the current students as well as the fact that most of the students are actively using Facebook. Students use Facebook not only because most of them are on it, but also due to the lack of efficient channel to share non-official CS events, and student initiatives. Active use of Facebook exclude those students who are not on the service.

2. New CS website shall provide an informal publishing space

Students liked the idea of sharing the outcomes of courses – courses, workshop, masters thesis – in the new CS website. However, they demanded an informal space where anyone in and around CS can publish a post in order to share processes of their projects, to get feedback from each other, to promote student initiated projects and event, to hear from CS alumni, and to communicate to outside world.

3. Without doubt, the most important user group is prospective students

Students prioritised the user groups and analysed their roles in terms of contents consumption and creation. They also wanted to make sure their future employers as well as possible partners are included as an important user group.

User prioritised

The meeting

The students of Creative Sustainability (CS) are clearly the most important stakeholders, and therefore a meeting with them was a prerequisite for planning the website, and further, online communications. A message was sent out to all the current CS student thanks to Naoko.

Students were asked to mark this Doodle and eventually seven students of CS – Saara-Maria Kauppi, Nícholas Torretta, Caroline Knappers, Julia Bushueva, Glen Forde, Flynn Lewer, and Roman Lihhavtshuk – made it. The meeting was made in half-structured and casual manner to evoke students observation on the communications of CS and went roughly by the following order.

1. Check-in
Each student shared what they imagined this meeting would be or should.

2. Codex
Students were asked to talk about some of the guiding principle of the new website, namely the target users, preferred content types, and privacy policy.

Codex

3. Narratives
Students were asked to talk about the contents of the website they would want to see as prospective students in retrospective and the ones they want to see as current students.

4. Card sorting
Students were given a stack of paper with words for navigation written on them and asked to talk about the contents of the website they would want to see as prospective students in retrospective and the ones they want to see as current students.

Card-sortingResult of card-sorting

Findings in detail

Problems of current CS website

  • Information overload: Facebook, too many emails, too many channels of Aalto University
  • Hard to find the information in the email without having read the previous emails
  • Some students hasn’t even visited the CS website for months because it’s so messy and there is not so much new information
  • Sometimes updates for upcoming events or courses are too late
  • Facebook doesn’t help solve the problems because not everyone is on it, and there are 3 CS Facebook groups
  • Course information updates don’t give links to moodle, noppa, oodi, people, which would make the visits to the website much more convenient
  • Study structure isn’t really informative and as a result students have to find out the more information from noppa or oodi
  • Prospective students are unable to connect to CS people than Naoko and Tiina. Some students – prospective students want to talk to the actual students – some of the students accidentally found Sujil’s twitter account and connected with him
  • The current CS website almost only works as a information package for admission

Challenges & Ideas for the new CS website

  • Who shall be the most important target? – In this order: prospective students, current students, other Aalto people, partners (IO, NGO, industry, educational clients, future employer of CS students), faculty members, researchers, alumni
  • Social network: Integrate or fetch the feed from Facebook in order to attract larger audience
  • Social network: Automatically send a feed to Facebook and Twitter when a new post is published in the new CS website
  • Space: Help students find and book the space
  • Provide a calendar for events and courses – CS open lecture, CS-on-display, admission for special courses etc
  • Sharing students’ works afterwards with curation and editorial
  • Sharing students’ processes and commenting to each other – CS is not individually driven programme, it is mostly group work and it’s the strength
  • How to share already finished projects, courses, and excursions
  • Several layers until one gets under the skin: 1st Layer–preview like a poster, 2nd layer–longer explanation with easily understandable visual material, 3rd layer–own blog or project website

What I would like to see as a prospective students

  • Project & course outcomes
  • Annual schedule in calendar view
  • Mandatory courses and when they run already before applying
  • Visualised admission procedure
  • Strong suggestion for preparing application (including CS’ peculiarity, about TOEFL, IELTS)
  • Research, researchers, PhD opportunities after master’s student
  • Job opportunity as a student
  • Who teaches what (name and content, students can search their name on the Internet)
  • General information about residence permit (a Dutch student had to apply for one)

What I would like to see as a current student

  • Student works, student initiatives in progress
  • Student created events
  • Alumni news

The rest

Tools for the meeting with CS students

The DSKD Method Cards was a helpful tool for me to prepare for the meeting. Its cards are larger than the IDEO ones and many of them have references for those who want to dig-in deeper. Simply flicking through them seemed to help me ideate to construct more fruitful meeting.

The meeting was really fruitful thanks to the time and dedication of participants, so thank you Sassu, Nícholas, Caroline, Julia, Glen, Flynn, and Roman!! I deeply appreciate your enthusiasm and over-time discussions. I have to tell the readers of this blog that some of them went to another teamwork after two hours of this meeting that ended almost by 8.30 pm.

Finally, I would like to thank Mira who kindly walked to an adjacent store with me to get snacks for the students who came tired after all the courses and studio works. Thank you, Mira!