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Bif Student Lab

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The Business Innovation Factory’s (BIF) Student Experience Lab was created to put the student and the student experience at the center of our country’s efforts to transform education. …

The Business Innovation Factory’s (BIF) Student Experience Lab was created to put the student and the student experience at the center of our country’s efforts to transform education.

Central to BIF’s nonprofit mission is our work to help partners from across the public and private sectors focus on solving problems by designing and testing new solutions in a real-world environment. It was a natural transition for BIF to apply its methodology to understand and improve the student experience.

Published in: Education

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  • 1. A real-world lab for enabling experimentation and innovation in education
  • 2. Sarah is among many students who worked with the BIF Student Experience Lab. For many students like Sarah, being in a “one size fits all” educational environment creates many barriers to success.
  • 3. BIF Student Experience Lab: Student Why the Student Experience Matters Experience Lab Fast Facts The conversation about innovation in education includes advocates, • Established in 2009 academics, policymakers and community leaders who all care very to create a new platform deeply about the future of education. This conversation includes a lively debate across a broad spectrum of perspectives about where we are, for understanding and how we got here and what we need to do to transform education in improving the student America. experience But, what is missing in this conversation is the voice that matters most: The voice of the student. To hear this voice you must tune into a dif- • Focus on documenting ferent channel—one that most institutions and policymaking bodies do the student experience not understand. As a result, too many conversations about education through the lens of reflect the perspectives, needs and agenda of institutions and not those the student of the students they serve. Despite our best intentions to give students what (we think) they want and need, we often miss the mark. • Emphasis on connecting The Business Innovation Factory’s (BIF) Student Experience Lab was innovators across all created to put the student and the student experience at the center of sectors and disciplines to our country’s efforts to transform education. work on transforming our Central to BIF’s nonprofit mission is our work to help partners from across the public and private sectors focus on solving problems by educational system designing and testing new solutions in a real-world environment. It • Committed to creating was a natural transition for BIF to apply its methodology to understand and improve the student experience. systems-level change that puts the student at the center of the educational experience All photos courtesy of Erik Gould • Building a network of experimenters who are committed to designing and testing new solutions in a real- world environment
  • 4. thanks to the Building a Real World Lab lumina foundation for education BIF launched the Student Experience Lab in 2009 with an initial phase BIF was honored to receive of work focused on illuminating the college student experience and a grant from the Lumina identifying opportunities to enhance the college student experience and Foundation for Education improve the effectiveness of the U.S. higher education system. Although to launch the Student the Lab has since initiated efforts to expand into other areas of the Experience Lab in 2009. educational continuum, initial work in the post-secondary arena was In alignment with Lumina’s an ideal place to start. specific interest in post- We embarked on this first phase of work under the premise that the secondary education, the current U.S. post-secondary education system does not deliver, at suf- Lab launched with an initial ficient scale or at an affordable price, a high-quality college experience phase of work focused on that prepares all students with the skills they need to fully participate in illuminating and improving the 21st century global economy. As a result, too many students are left the college student with their educational and economic needs unmet. experience. The Lab’s approach is straightforward: Bring the student experience to Building on this foundational life in a way that makes their voice more central to our conversation phase of work, the Lab has about transforming education. With this mission, the team created an begun expanding to include “experience map” of the environmental and human factors that are the all parts of the educational most significant drivers of the college student experience. The Lab’s continuum. design researchers used observational and ethnographic research, in con- junction with secondary research, to illustrate the experience of current, former and prospective students at various ages and from diverse racial and socioeconomic backgrounds. Working with students at more than 40 schools from across the coun- try, the team gathered thousands of data points related to the students’ experiences with the academic, personal and financial components of the higher education system. We captured their story using video, audio, photography and narrative to shine a new light on the human, environ- mental and systems-level factors that have the most significant impact on their success. The team also interviewed dozens of education experts and advocates from all sides of the debate and created a unique visualization of the most significant historical and policy-related events in higher education history.
  • 5. What did we find? Students are making decisions with tragically little information about their options or the long-term consequences of their get engaged in choices. Students are maxing out on debt and uncertain how to turn the bif student their dreams into a fulfilling career. And, schools are struggling to deliver experience lab affordable services that meet demand. To effectively educate Americans The BIF Student at the scale and speed that we need, we must aggressively explore and Experience Lab packages experiment with new solutions that enable more students to get the its findings in a highly education they need. visual and interactive BIF’s approach enables stakeholders to see the experience through the format that uses video, lens of the student, better appreciate the dynamics of the whole system audio, photography and and more readily identify opportunities for innovation and intervention. first-person narrative This deep understanding experience also enables BIF and its partners to tell the story of the to identify specific elements of the experience where investment in student experience in innovation is likely to yield the greatest return. a way that reveals the human, environmental Lab outputs from this phase of work can be viewed at: and systems-level factors http://www.businessinnovationfactory.com/sxl/ that most impact degree The Lab is continuing its work in the higher education space and has attainment. initiated efforts to move into the K-12 arena. The team is also work- Please visit our website ing with advocates in the workforce development space to explore how to explore lab findings. BIF’s platform can be leveraged to support the expansion of programs that enable lifetime learning and worker retraining. You can also join our virtual lab and provide The Lab’s methodology offers a powerful tool in ongoing efforts to input directly to on-going understand the student experience–at all grade levels–and accelerate work. the design and development of new solutions. In its first phase of work, the BIF Student Experience Lab team Foundations worked with students at schools across the country to gather Chasing the Dream thousands of data points about the college student experience. Planning the Future While every student experience is in many ways unique, the Lab’s Navigating the System design researchers identified nine experiential themes that span Managing Finances demographics, geography and school and student-type. In mapping Institutional Fit the student experience, the Lab team used video, audio, photography and narrative to bring new visibility to the human, environmental and Being in Class systems-level factors that have the most significant impact on student Relationships success. You can explore these themes in full, and from the perspective Leaving School of the student, at www.businessinnovationfactory.com/projects/sxl
  • 6. First generation college students are in a unique position in their families. They often must seek external support to guide their decision-making about education. Hearing stories from students like Henry and Victor illuminates the complex dynamics of this reality and the unique challenges they face in achieving academic success.
  • 7. Why Experimentation in Education Matters We need in education, as we have in most industries, R&D platforms that enable systems-level experimentation; where disruptive ideas can be tested in real-world conditions but in a manner where risk can be managed and the scale-up of proven ideas accelerated. There are some glimmers of this spirit of experimentation in education, but we need to multiply the effort. What is unique about BIF’s approach is our belief that transforma- tional innovation in education begins with a deeper, more personal understanding of the student experience and a willingness to Valerie is one of dozens of students in experiment with new models of delivering education that put the the Lab who shared their stories about students—not the institutions who serve them—at the center. balancing the demands of work and BIF’s unique non-profit platform creates an ideal setting for school. collaborators, including those from within education and those from other disciplines, to work together to explore and test new ideas. Building a strong articulation of the actual student experience, collaborators in the Lab are better positioned to design and develop solutions that directly enhance the student experience. In establishing the Lab, BIF has created a national network of individuals, organizations and students who share our belief that experimentation is key to creating deep transformational change. This network, in conjunction with BIF’s platform for real-world experimentation, forms the foundation for a living laboratory where new ideas for improving the student experience can be designed, tested and refined with direct student engagement. partnership opportunities A strong academic and personal foundation, good study habits and the BIF welcomes participation in the Student Experience Lab from ability to work in teams are essential industry partners, education innovation advocates and foundation skills that students need to succeed funders who share our passion for student-centered solutions that throughout their academic careers. enhance the student experience. Students in the BIF Lab speak often about the challenges of being deficient To partner in the Lab, please call us at 401.270.7906. in foundational skills. This is an area of opportunity ripe for experimentation.
  • 8. www.businessinnovationfactory.com Business Innovation Factory 60 Valley Street, Suite 25 Providence, Rhode Island 02909 (401) 270-7906