One of the most helpful tools for developing a meaningful and potentially impactful tool is to place yourself in the shoes of the intended user. The following user statements can help you with that.
High Impact Learning
Beth is a Freshman student walking into her first class session at Penn State, excited to start her higher education experience and engage with new people, ideas, and opportunities. She quickly becomes disillusioned as she learns that most of her courses are lecture based, stale, and so massive that she feels lost in the crowd. Her excitement eventually fades and she learns the routine of doing what she need to do in order to pass her classes; now seeing her college experience as something she needs to do rather than an engaging, collaborative opportunity.
Prospective Student Services
Rich is finishing his final tour in the Army and is looking to return home and get his degree. He has done a bit of work in the communications field over the past few years and is interested in pursuing that as his degree path, but he is also open to a few other options. His finances will be a bit limited, and he does not want to spend a full four years in this effort. He hopes he can transfer in a few credits he had earned in community college and maybe even get credit for what he did in the army. He opens his web browser, types in communications degree, and thinks to himself, “now what?”
Enrolled Student Services
LaMonica is a sophomore at Penn State and feels like she is struggling, lost in the massive size and complexity of things. She is constantly going to her friends and asking questions about how to drop a class or what classes she should take or any of a seemingly endless string of things she doesn’t know how to navigate. Often she finds out that she should have already done something related to her financial aid or class scheduling when she didn’t even realize it. She needs help, but doesn’t know where to go.
Jai is a second semester Junior and is starting to get a bit worried about his life after Penn State. Some of his friends already have job offers and have been part of amazing internships, some of them seemingly set up for amazing career paths already. In contrast, Jai is still not entirely certain what he wants to do or where he wants to be after graduation. Money is important to him, but so is doing something fulfilling with his life and being located in a city that is fun and exciting. He has been to see Career Services at Penn State, but still hasn’t quite found something that excites him and that he is qualified for. He has a little space in his schedule to take additional courses if necessary, but doesn’t know where to start.
Office of Physical Plant
Rose is a Senior at Penn State and as she starts tallying up her final cost of attending Penn State, she finds herself increasingly frustrated with the waste and inefficiencies that she physically sees all around campus. Lights are left on in empty rooms, snow piles up on some sidewalks while others are plowed twice, parking is a mess, some maintenance problems are fixed right away while others take weeks to be addressed, and multiple half‐empty buildings are heating a massive amount of wasted space. Rose knows that, in the end, all of those inefficiencies contribute to her rising tuition bill. After tracking them down, she finds herself staring at massive data sets of energy and time expenditures at Penn and she is determined to do something about it.
Penn State employs almost 39,000 people across University Park and the Commonwealth campuses. Recruiting, hiring, and managing at that scale is complicated and costly, the very reason Sara was hired to look at increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of the University’s processes. She has an enormous amount of data on who has been hired, how they have been promoted through the organization, how they are onboarded, and what they cost. What she needs now is an idea on what to do with all of that information that can eventually reduce the HR costs to the university.
Penn State has almost 700,000 alumni and over 170,000 Alumni Association members. As one of those Alumni, Matt is interested in staying connected with Penn State, but he is busy, and finds that he is increasingly less likely to open his generic alumni emails and is losing touch with what is happening at his alma mater. He would be interested in connecting with other alumni to network and build relationships, but feels awkward showing up at a big meet and greet with a bunch of people he doesn’t know.
Development (Fund Raising)
John is a new hire in the Penn State Development office and is tasked with helping find new and more efficient ways to increasing the total dollars given to Penn State to help support a wide array of programs and initiatives. Being tech savvy, John knows that there must be a better way of identifying new potential donors and helping his existing donors connect with programs they may be interested in funding.
Engaged Student Experience
Myra is experiencing a few growing pains at Penn State. In High School she was active and involved in a number of clubs and always felt like it was easy to make friends. Since coming to Penn State she has struggled to find her place and to find people with whom she enjoys spending time. She finds that she mostly studies alone and feels invisible moving across campus. She would love to intern somewhere, or travel for a class, or join in a research study, or lead a club, or just … something to feel like she is a part of the University and a community.
You have a story. What is it and what could have been done or what tool could have been in place to help you with the struggles you felt/feel at Penn State?