Five years ago, the Lab began with a vision to bring human-centered design and other innovative tools to bear on the wicked problems that lie at the intersection of the rapidly changing postsecondary education landscape, the future of work, and growing inequality. We set out to design and build new models with employers and partner institutions to help build more equitable futures for all learners.
From the start, we’ve been focused on populations that higher ed has not historically been designed for, from veterans to first gen students. We’ve spent the past five years partnering with 2- and 4-year institutions to design new solutions for connecting learners to meaningful credentials and employment.
A transfer student participates in a Seamless Transfer Pathways design session at Florida International University last year
A shot from an early Lab design challenge focused on designing cybersecurity pathways for veteran learners
Since the Lab’s inception, we’ve grown our team from three to twelve members and we’re currently leading nine concurrent design challenges across the country. Our mission has remained. We are still focused on designing with a purpose and driven by what we see as an urgent need to act in terms of re-imagining and implementing new possibilities for higher ed institutions, high schools, employers, nonprofits to serve learners in more equitable ways. We are working towards a future where learners, regardless of income or social capital, have access to high quality degrees and credentials, meaningful career pathways, and social mobility.
We’re working to impact 1M learners by 2025.
Who are these 1M learners we’re designing for? They are single mothers, transfer students, adult learners on a path to earning their GED, entry-level retail workers with little educational experience, first-generation students, and students from low-income backgrounds.
Poised to Scale
After five years of building we are now poised to scale our work. And we’re hitting the ground running. Next month, we’ll launch the Single Moms Success Design Challenge with a cohort of four community colleges, launch a new design challenge aimed at upskilling incumbent workers and host a design charrette at Arizona State University to imagine a digital open credentials marketplace. The session will focus on presenting near-future use cases that could help drive human-centered design work on the curricula, assessment standards and user experiences that will best serve learners to deliver on the potential to expand digital open pathway opportunities for diverse sets of students (Stay tuned for key learnings from the session).
Over the course of 2019, we plan, with our partners, to launch a dozen or more UNCF CPI pilots, 7 Tee Up the Skills pilots, 4 STP pilots, and an affordable hybrid learning model in the Southwest. We are so grateful to our past partners, funders and friends for helping to nurture the Lab from an idea and an initial design session to the growing organization it is today. Now we look to 2019 as an opportunity to build on our successes and leverage our experiences to go after bigger opportunities for scale and truly meaningful impact. Join us on this journey.