A new school of thought:
An evolution of the higher education experience
Our cross-functional team of professionals helped to develop a blueprint for a bold programme and campus that will equip first-class students with the skills needed to excel in the working world.
Does the traditional education system still make the grade in the 21st century?
Education is an industry that by definition should be geared towards the future. One ambitious Middle Eastern institution wanted to take that to the next level, though, by shaking up the entire value chain to create a premier learning and teaching experience.
Leaders want to deliver an environment where excellence, creativity and ingenuity are encouraged and that develops the practical skills necessary for joining the workplace. Crafting that vision would require a granular assessment of all aspects of the teaching and learning experience, followed up with the production of a tailored blueprint that suited their requirements.
That is where our A-team came in. Our challenge was to provide our client with a plan that would emphasise the institution’s reputation as a global leader in its chosen fields. How would we achieve that? By effectively harnessing the power of a cross-functional team that would deliver a tangible outcome for our client.
Sharing experience and fostering discussion to curate a comprehensive vision
As with any academic endeavour, research was crucial for enhancing knowledge.
Firstly, we conducted a thorough benchmarking exercise, analysing the performance of leaders in the education sector to obtain insights into what the current best-in-class looks like. We also interviewed leading figures from the host country’s public and private sectors as well as major employers to identify the character traits, soft skills, and technical knowledge they want young talents to exhibit in the workplace. This exploratory work, however, was just the starting point. A project such as this was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why and how the Hyphen approach to solving complex and ambitious problems is so effective. Our operating principles are simple:
- We build agile cross-functional teams using flexible engagement models to get multiple perspectives on the same challenge.
- We utilise the knowledge of leading global subject experts to generate and iterate ideas quickly via concentrated sprints.
- We ensure that all work is prepared in collaboration with our clients and developed with practicality in mind.
Combining these principles generates comprehensive, innovative, and implementable ideas quickly and thus makes our clients’ goals achievable.
For this engagement, we scoured our network, particularly focusing on education experts, to identify and source a flexible and diverse roster of top-tier specialists from around the world. Collectively, our combination of six experts has worked with some of the world’s most illustrious academic institutions across multiple continents over several decades.
The diversity within the group extended beyond mere geography and was a real asset. Each of the four top-tier education sector professionals was an expert in a particular aspect of the industry. Meanwhile, the other two brought a more design-based viewpoint with accomplished careers that saw work closely with and in the education industry respectively.
A dedicated project lead with an extensive career in consulting and experience leading educational programmes added another valuable perspective and ensured process management was effective. Senior members of our A-team also worked alongside these external specialists to provide additional direction and ideas.
Bringing together this esteemed collection of professionals via a series of structured brainstorming sessions spurred idea generation, both in terms of quality and quantity. Every single member of the team went beyond their area of expertise to stress-test proposals in real-time. Thanks to this hands-on approach during these concentrated sprints, the group created high-quality designs, which were finessed swiftly over several iterations.
One example of that came during our efforts to prepare a programme content plan. One of our experts possessed practical experience in teaching a particular subject area so they knew what would work for educators working directly with students. Meanwhile, other members – including a course director in Europe – had more strategic and oversight-based insights, which helped us get a sense of how the overall programme structure would look. Having spent time working with leading institutions and seeing their successes – and pitfalls – first-hand, each of these experts was able to offer examples of best practices and improvement suggestions.
However, the involvement of several design-orientated specialists – our Head of Design, Patrick Savolainen, also contributed to proceedings – made a massive difference to the progression of this project, too. This collection of designers, futurists, and architects brought an entirely different mindset to the sessions, rooting the proposals in practicality.
This was particularly pertinent when it came to approaching the task of developing a campus and classroom suited to delivering an unparalleled learning experience. An idealistic wish list for the teaching environment put forward by our education-orientated experts was challenged and re-engineered by their creative counterparts, leading to the construction of a futuristic and exciting vision for what this new campus will look like.
Setting a new standard for advanced learning
The combination of realism and innovation met the vision of our Middle East-based client, and they are now looking towards the next phase of this bold project. Subsequent discussions are continuing as we look to refine further the concepts presented in our blueprint.
Every aspect of the education experience was considered thoroughly, even down to the entry and exit points of the institution’s buildings and facilities. All of this input, plus having bona fide creative gurus for this project, helped us develop a thought-provoking and insightful presentation. The work of our design team really helped hammer home our ideas for the content and they brought the teaching environment to life and illustrated each facet of our blueprint in great detail.
Our north star for this engagement was to develop a blueprint for a premier, future-ready education institution. By using such a capable cross-functional team that included individuals with different philosophies and experiences, we have achieved just that.
What they saw was a holistic vision of a cutting-edge education environment. Included within it were details of the ideal format for programme content, the optimal approach to staffing and resourcing, and the design of the buildings and facilities. By arming our client with this detailed plan, we have ensured that they are ready to embrace the future of education, having progressed from a conceptual stage to something more tangible.
Our collaboration with subject experts fostered fresh perspectives that could encourage a more proactive, ambitious and future-orientated approach to developing the education value chain. Given our ability to identify the perfect hires to join such ambitious and game-changing projects, we will look to get involved in the recruitment of personnel to fill certain key roles at the institution.
This engagement saw us bring together a unique collection of specialists to form a multidisciplinary team that could develop and deliver a tangible product that retains its strategic nature. Work to make this vision a reality is still in the formative stages, but the potential is considerable. In short, our blueprint could serve as a guide on how to prepare long-standing institutions for the future through a bold approach to redesigning the education experience.
Q1 2023 to present
- Benchmarking and data gathering
We conducted an in-depth review of the current education landscape and sought the views of leaders in industry to build a clear picture of what the new programme would need to include.
- Expert engagement
We brought in five industry experts to help us brainstorm and develop ideas that could lead to a new, more modern way of teaching computer science.
- End-to-end engagement support
As well as providing a roadmap to our client, we are helping them to implement it through finding the right people to help them.
- A leading academic at an American university with years of expertise in a rapidly evolving and globally significant technological field.
- A programme director for a European institution who continues to oversee several courses.
- An advisor with experience helping some of America’s most famous colleges improve their teaching in a particular academic discipline.
- The founder of a higher education advisory organisation with previous experience at a senior level in a top Asian university.
- A world-leading education spaces design expert who has won awards for her work in Asia and has designed some of the world’s finest modern university architecture.
- An award-winning architect and lecturer who has led design teams on a diverse range of ambitious projects in the United States.
- A versatile consultant with years of experience at a high level in blue-chip companies, including serving as the head of education programmes for one such global business.