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Collaboration at a Distance

This effort was a design research initiative exploring collaboration and learning in the digital environment. The goal of this project was to discover the unique needs of SCAD eLearning students, and propose solutions to create more efficacious outcomes. We studied the advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous and real-time conversations and exchanges. We also explored trends in digital technology and compared other online MFA/MA programs to SCAD's offering. 


Project Objective

"Gain a comprehensive understanding of the digital learning environment and discover how the online Design Management degree program at SCAD can be improved upon in the areas of collaboration and student satisfaction"

Research Process

Our approach to research was user-centered and considered all the stakeholders involved in the eLearning landscape. We began by gathering data on the current offerings in eLearning education, focusing closely on competing offerings in online M.F.A. and M.A. programs. We also explored the usability of the current Blackboard interface, and its ability to be adapted to various courses and professor/student needs. A large part of our research was conducted through ethnographic methods such as: observation, shadowing, interviews, surveys, studies, cultural probes and more.

Competitive Landscape

In order to better understand how SCAD's eLearning offerings compare to competitors, we performed detailed assessments of other M.F.A. and M.A. offerings and Design Management related programs at other universities. 

Stakeholder Personas + Insights

In order to better understand the various stakeholders involved with SCAD eLearning, we devised four stakeholder personas: ELearning Department, Design Management Professors, On-Ground Students and ELearning Students.

Co-Creation Workshops

After revealing the insights from each of our stakeholder groups, we decided to shift our focus to problem-solving and concept development. One group we focused on specifically was the SCAD eLearning administration. This group includes web designers, content creators, administrators, and user experience designers. We met with them in their workspace to host a workshop focusing on their "wishes" and suggestions for creating ideal eLearning platform. After collecting the "wishes" and anonymously voting on which ideas to pursue further, we discussed some strategies to bridge the gap between the current state and the ideal future state.


Process Book

Our process book, titled "Considering Collaboration in DMGT eLearning" includes a detailed narrative of the process and methodology of the project. The book also includes models and synthesis of data, resulting in insights.

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