Revealing the “backstage operations” of BCcampus

Working at BCcampus as a Learner Services Research Assistant has been one of the most rewarding experiences since the start of my post-secondary academic studies. I’ve worked with and met so many fascinating and fantastic people who truly care about every aspect of post-secondary education. I’ve been involved in many projects pertaining to BCcampus’ online Student Services, including ApplyBC, CoursesBC, and MyCreditsBC. Furthermore, I’ve learned plenty about BCcampus, about the backstage operations about some of our services, about learning itself, as well as the importance of how my own studies and how it can be applied to the job.

Gracey copyAs a Learner Services Research Assistant, my main responsibility has been improving usability on our online Student Services by applying my existing knowledge and skills I learned from my courses in the School of Interactive Arts + Technology (SIAT) in conducting user tests, doing heuristic evaluations, and analyzing the data to be able to recommend design solutions. An example of this is my involvement with the development of ApplyBC as it has been the core of my work-term experience.

Along with my supervisor, we planned and facilitated an official user test for ApplyBC with participants we recruited, who fit into the criteria of who a typical ApplyBC user would be. Participants completed a post-secondary entrance application and from that, we recorded any questions or issues that were encountered. The report we wrote was based on these observations, as well as our processes, in which we then we presented design solutions (through mock-ups) derived from research and brainstorming. The full report and additional supplementary information can be accessed here.

Ever since starting university, I have taken advantage of many resources that are provided for students. However, I’ve only realized and appreciated now how the background processes operate and how hard the people work in terms of making these resources relevant, user-friendly, and fully functional. Not only this, but I’ve learned so many things on the job about BCcampus, about working in an office environment, and about myself in my four months of working here. Here’s the top-three list of the most valuable things I’ve learned:

  1. BCcampus is amazingly innovative in the services they provide for BC’s post-secondary schools and if I knew more about them prior to this job, some of my tasks (e.g. searching for online courses) could have been easier to accomplish
  2. I’ve always worked in retail prior to this position, and my dream upon graduating was working for the big companies like Apple and Google, but working in the small, cozy office of BCcampus has made me realize that I have plenty to contribute, and that I’m more than an employee number
  3. I now fully understand and appreciate adulthood pertaining to the eight-hour grind, the two-hour commute (to and from) on transit, and the importance of coffee or tea to start the day

One of the most enriching experiences I had here was being able to refer to the design knowledge and user testing techniques I learned from school, and then applying them in my projects. In other words, my own post-secondary education has provided me with the skill-set for this position to improve services that supplement other’s post-secondary education. Moreover, being in my school’s co-op program has helped me prepare for the job-hunting process I will be doing after I graduate; a whole semester prior to getting this position, I was applying for co-op jobs, writing cover letters, and competing with many of my peers for interviews.

Although I would have loved to continue growing at BCcampus, courses and degree completion awaits me. I cannot emphasize enough how amazing this co-op experience has been. I learned how passionate my colleagues are in improving post-secondary education in any way possible, and making it a priority, and that too has become something I believe in. Not only did I serve BCcampus in terms of projects I’ve completed or ideas I’ve contributed, but I also served the post-secondary students (both prospective and current) by helping making better web experiences in our web applications for them. I am so humbled to have contributed my ideas to web applications that will be used by plenty of students with bright futures.

Although I’m aware this is not an award ceremony, I would like to thank BCcampus for the opportunity and for all it provides for us post-secondary students, and all its employees for their hospitality, wisdom and guidance! And a special expression of gratitude to Dave Dumaresq for being the best supervisor and sensei!

By Gracey Mesina