In the ongoing wake of Covid-19, post-secondary students across the globe face major barriers, from financial insecurity to anxiety and loneliness. Co-designed and co-created by students, Liberated Learners is an open resource which supports new post-secondary students to thrive. Liberated Learners is a large, interinstitutional collaborative project by students, faculty, and staff at Trent University, Brock University, Seneca College, University of Windsor, McMaster University, Cambrian College, and Nipissing University, in Canada. It is a comprehensive and dynamic guide which supports learners with everything from video production and personal finance, to sleeping habits and imposter syndrome. It is split into four modules: The Learner – about study habits and motivation, The Technologist – about understanding necessary tech tools, The Navigator – about time management, wellness, and navigating your program/institution, and The Collaborator – about working with others, allyship, self-advocacy, and networking. It breaks the overwhelming experience of becoming a post-secondary student into digestible bite-sized bits.
What is unique about this resource is that it was created for learners by learners. It is filled with student’s voices and speaks authentically to the student experience because it was co-created at every step of the process in collaboration with paid student co-designers and was directly inspired by student lived experiences.
To begin the project student designers hosted a design sprint and collected stories of struggle in higher education from learners around the world. These international submissions spanned the globe. The student design team labelled them “wicked problems.” These stories are the heart of Liberated Learners, and the modules were inspired by, designed, and built-in response to these stories, holding student voices at their core. Students in the Seneca College Music program also created the original ‘beats to study to’.