Swinburne University of Technology is a world-class university focused on creating impact. Swinburne is committed to transforming education through strong industry engagement, social inclusion, a desire to innovate and a determination to create positive change.
As part of its 2025 Strategic Plan – which prepared it for technological disruption, growing expectations from industry, and digitalisation – Swinburne sought to develop Future-Ready Learners: graduates who lead in employability and business creation.
Swinburne aimed to transform its vocational education student experience to strengthen graduate employability and improve student satisfaction and retention. Getting there involved establishing design principles, developing a road map, implementing the transformation, measuring success and activating the student voice.
To develop a transformation road map, Swinburne and Nous drew on human-centred design techniques.
Nous facilitated a Skunk Works Innovation Lab, in which more than 80 Swinburne executives, teaching and corporate staff joined an immersive and interactive workshop to build support for the transformation of learning and to document their ideas. The event included a panel session with industry to discuss their expectations, a student panel to explore their experiences and guest speakers who were leading thinkers on vocational education.
Then during a four-day design sprint, a core team designed, workshopped and defined the future learning experience and expectations for the upcoming design and piloting phases. A future experience prototype was tested with more than 100 staff, students, stakeholders and industry contacts.
This led to four design principles for transforming learning, and activities to deliver on them:
To put these principles into action, 40 staff formed working groups to implement 11 projects.
Key to success was activating the voice of Swinburne students to validate the projects.
To achieve this, Swinburne used Ziplet (formally Loop), an app-based platform that provides continuous, real-time feedback to education institutions and teachers. Swinburne used Ziplet to gather student views on its transformation in two ways:
Through Ziplet, Swinburne captured student sentiment, measured the impact of change and sourced new ideas for continuous improvement.
More than 75 per cent of students provide regular feedback to Swinburne and their teachers, with more than 65 per cent of teachers actively gathering feedback. Swinburne has gathered responses in hours – rather than weeks or months – due to Ziplet being accessed by students on their phones.
Ziplet data is instantly available to relevant Swinburne leaders or teachers, enabling them to connect with students immediately to understand their concerns or make immediate change. Swinburne can verify, effectively in real-time, the extent to which program changes are helping students be work-ready.
Implementing the transformation required a concerted effort across Swinburne. It involved:
By the end of 2019, some 60 per cent of Swinburne’s vocational education courses, amounting to 100 courses, have undergone transformation. This includes courses in justice, business, film, nursing, plumbing and engineering.
Now Swinburne is making progress in delivering on its measures of success: to drive increases in student satisfaction, retention and articulation; graduate employment; employer satisfaction with graduates; and student acquisition.
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