Redesigning Higher Education Seminar

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A seminar looking at the role Design might play in shaping the future of Higher Education

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Higher Education has always played a critical role in shaping, informing and inspiring society, but in today's complex and fast changing world, that role may be more important than ever. However, many believe that of our institutions are operating under an outdated model that does not align with the realities and needs of modern society, putting our institutions under increasing pressure to change and evolve. But are our institutions prepared for change? Do they have the humility, creativity, agility and buy-in necessary to make meaningful change happen?

Mi:Lab believe that framing Higher Education as a Design challenge can open up exciting new possibilities. Human-Centred Design is an iterative approach to innovation and problem solving that offers important, accessible and impactful pathways for deeply understanding staff and student needs, enabling better ways of collaborating and co-creating, creatively exploring ideas and ultimately, shaping new models of Higher Education. In this online seminar, we will hear from speakers with a deep understanding and expertise in the area of Design and Higher Education on their experiences applying these ways of working.


Dr William Rankin

Dr William Rankin is an educational theorist, designer, speaker, and consultant with experience in higher education, Fortune 500 companies, small tech startups, and private consulting. He has worked with governments, educational organizations, and companies to develop and further innovative teaching and learning. An early champion of using mobile technologies for learning, he is a recognized authority on learner-centric and project-based learning and on using real-world experiences for learning.

Lorna Ross

Lorna Ross has thirty years of professional experience working on strategic design research activity, particularly in innovation lab environments. Over the past two decades, she’s held creative leadership positions in five innovation groups that span a range of industry sectors from technology to healthcare. Her career has thrived at the intersection of design, science, technology, and industry, and she’s an expert in planning, managing, and executing speculative research activity.

Sean Hobson

Sean Hobson is Assistant Vice President and Chief Design Officer for EdPlus at Arizona State University, where he leads strategic design initiatives and partnerships to solve complex issues in higher education. Sean’s strong background in communications and instructional design fosters his ability to work well with technology and understand how it can be used effectively and responsibly to promote successful outcomes.

Trevor Vaugh

Trevor Vaugh is an Assistant Professor of Design Innovation at Maynooth University, where his research and practice is focused on Human-Centred innovation as a driver of strategy, radical innovation and a mediator between humanity and technology. In 2018, with support from the HEA, Trevor founded the Maynooth University Innovation Lab (Mi:Lab). As Principal investigator, he leads a team of Designers and Anthropologists in exploring, defining and creatively tackling Higher Education system challenges.

About Mi:Lab

The Maynooth University Innovation Lab (Mi:Lab) takes a human-centred design approach to exploring and tackling challenges within the higher education system. Through a process of applied design research and co-creation, Mi:Lab builds on the knowledge, expertise and creativity of students, staff and partners. We strive to ensure that the right problems are being tackled, unmet and unarticulated needs are defined, and continuous experimentation becomes the norm in higher education. Through design thinking projects, interactive workshops and academic publications, the Mi:Lab team of design researchers, anthropologists and innovators seek to demonstrate the value of, and embed a Human-Centred design awareness, mindset, skillset and confidence across the Higher Education system.

Mi:Lab is funded by the Higher Education Authority’s Innovation and Transformation Fund 2018.

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