Students pursue post-secondary education at different periods throughout their lives, often changing institutions and programs during their education. Accessing and completing any kind of post-secondary education is difficult enough without having to face additional challenges from the academic transfer system.
In partnership with ONCAT, this project explored the following design challenge: How might we ensure students’ timely access to essential information with the existing transfer process?
Transfer students were led through a series of journey mapping sessions where they shared their experiences navigating the Ontario postsecondary transfer system. Students were also asked to review and evaluate various transfer-related resources to determine the quality of available supports. Throughout each workshop, students explored various pain points and strategies for optimizing the transfer experience. Moreover, the project conducted an independent evaluation of available resources, recognizing that students’ expectations and needs have evolved with technology.
The user research identified several barriers with a seamless transfer process, including (but not limited to) challenging navigation of information , unclear timelines for the overall process, and a lack of updates throughout the transition. In addition, the data showed that students value both technology and in-person interactions.
The project identified that students consider transfer advisors to be a valuable resource for navigating the transfer process. Students tend to struggle with either difficult navigation of resources or an overload of information, thus, advisors play a key role throughout the transfer experience. Students highlighted a need to streamline the transfer process so that students can navigate and find information easily, efficiently, and in a way that fits their lifestyle.
To address the challenge students face with finding relevant resources for a smooth transfer experience, the Student Mobility team ideated and designed ONtrack, a mobile application that guides students through their transfer process and provides key resources, tailored to each student. ONtrack helps students get a better idea of the entire process while connecting them with necessary resources including transfer advisors across all Ontario colleges and universities. The app aims to reduce current barriers by allowing students to reach information, resources, and assistance more effectively.
Students with/without transfer experience were invited to test the ONtrack prototype. User feedback includes:
- User interface – information hierarchy including text size, colour, and integrating iOS Human Interface Guideline as the basis of the app’s UI design
- Features – an overview of upcoming tasks, to-do list accompanied by the calendar, and the contact information of transfer advisors
To scale the design outcome for a broader use across institutions in Ontario, short-term goals include:
- Review of the transfer process by ONCAT
- Collect transfer process information including overall process, deadlines, staff engagements, and student-facing points of contact.
- Promotion of ONtransfer.ca
- Collaborate with OUAC and OCAS
- Implementation of student feedback in the redevelopment of ONtransfer.ca
Medium-term goals include:
- Regular updates that align with the needs of students to ensure the reliability and usefulness of ONtransfer.ca
- Two options moving forward:
- Overhaul of ONtransfer.ca – changing online interface for better accessibility and usability on both web and mobile environment
- Development of ONtrack app – test the protype and incorporate user feedback
Long-term goals include:
- Integration of ONtrack features into the ONtransfer.ca including notifications, task overview, and contact information of transfer advisors
- Launch of ONtrack app
- UI development
- AI testing to find links to relevant resources
Nikole McGregor, Roya Matsui, Christina Park, Angelina Pletneva, ONCAT