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Students design new services for Laureamko

Students from Spain and Austria along with exchange and Finnish students at Laurea worked together on service design projects during an intensive two weeks long Service Design Winter School.

The theme of the Design Winter School was to design a service for Laureamko, a student union at Laurea. The course was organized by Laurea’s senior lecturers Anna Nolvi and Kati Tawast and took place at Laurea’s Leppävaara campus on 14-25.01.

The idea of service design is to improve customer experience. During the course the students worked using a well-defined method known as Design Sprint.

“Design Sprint is a time constrained, service design project that uses design thinking and service design tools to create a new service or to improve an existing one. We followed the book “Design Sprint” by Jake Knapp”, explains Anna Nolvi.

During the first week students learnt basics of service design tools and during the following one they started their own projects using the acquired knowledge.

In Design Sprint every day is dedicated to different tasks. Monday is for mapping, Tuesday for sketching, Wednesday to decide and make a storyboard, on Thursday students do prototyping and test it. On the last day they present their project to the customer.

“Mapping is about getting to know the customer, checking what he needs. In sketching students think, what would be the solution for a problem or for a need the customer has, then they decide on the solution and write their ideas, they make a storyboard. After that they prototype the idea of the solution and test it and ask the customer, was the idea good or not. They suggest the improvement of the service that already exists or come up with a totally new service”, says Anna Nolvi.

Maria Pliego Taboada, law and international relations student from Sevilla, Spain didn’t know anything about service design before she came here. But she decided to participate out of curiosity.

“I think it is important and interesting to study different things, to learn about something completely new and not to focus only on your own degree”, she says.

Another student Lorenzo Fernandez Martin, studying law in Cordoba, Spain, says that although he also didn’t know what service design is, during the Winter School he has learnt a lot.

“The previous week the teachers taught us what we have to achieve, they told us about service design and the design sprint and we learnt the tools. During our second week we were developing our projects, that is a good service design tool for Laureamko”, he explains.

Group work and a lot of freedom

All the students were very positively surprised by the teaching methods and how much they have learnt.

“For me the most important part was to learn to work in a group. I was a team leader so this was an important role, I had to make decisions and I liked this experience. Also, I’ve learnt how to do an interview. I’ve never done that before”, says Maria.

For Lorenzo the important part was working with data. First they had to gather them, based on interviews with students and then analyze them and get into conclusions. “That’s why very important for us was to get a lot of feedback from students and based on that we were trying to improve the services”, he adds.

Bernd Fuchs, a management student from Vienna, Austria liked the sketching part of the Design Sprint project. “Together with my friends in Austria we are trying to develop an application for a mobile phone, so I can use this tool for that goal”, says Bernd.

He was excited about the whole innovation process in the Design Sprint course: “You always face new innovations and you have to develop them as fast as possible and maybe prototype. Here we learnt about the whole process and how to make it in a very short time. The group project is also very nice because we work together, exchange ideas, we are independent in what we are developing. Our project is an app for Laureamko”, says Bernd.

Inma Carpio Del Arco, law and business student from Sevilla was surprised by the amount of freedom and independence they got during the course.

“No one was guiding us on what we should develop. They taught us the design tools and gave us the very basic idea to develop a service for Laureamko that will serve students’ needs. But the rest depended on us. My group decided to develop an app, so that everybody has a lot of information about what Laureamko has to offer. App can give the feeling that students are a community. Now actually many students didn’t even know what Laureamko is. Our app could easily spread the news around the campuses”, says Inma

Students praised the teaching approach at Laurea

“I like the way the teachers guide us. We have no limits, we can use our imagination and explore any ideas we come up to, we are free to create and it is very interesting experience. It is in contrast to what we have in Spain, where you have to follow the instructions and there is no place for creative thoughts”, says Inma.

“The teachers are very open and encouraging, they might suggest something, give some tips, but in general they give us free hands. They give us the confidence in doing our project. And all that is impossible in Spain”, adds Lorenzo.

Maria liked also the cooperation with Finnish students. During the two weeks course they became her good friends. “I don’t want to go back to Spain”, she smiles.

“The teaching methods are different from my home university, because here you can work independently in your group, the teachers step back and let the students do the things and I like it. In Austria we sit and listen to the lecturer and we don’t work too much in groups, so I really enjoy it here”, says Bernd.

The only thing that bothered especially the Spanish students was the weather. They experienced the heavy snow fall and temperatures up to -20C. “It is beautiful outside, but it’s also hard to stand”, they admit.

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