S. Luojus, S. Kauppinen, J. Lahti

In order to respond to the challenges posed by digitalization, new competence and methods that can be used to facilitate digital service design in both the public and private sectors are required. This requires developing the content and practices of higher education in the field. This paper describes an experiment that addresses developing master’s degree studies in service design at Laurea University of Applied Sciences.

The pedagogical starting point for the development work was a pedagogical model, Learning by Developing (LbD), that is based on learning through research and developing (R&D). Expertise and experiences are shared between teachers and multidisciplinary student teams as well as other project partners. While working in the project teams, students take part as equal partners bringing their expertise with them. The teacher members of the project team take part by providing their expertise to steer the progress of the work and, at the same time, the progress of learning.

The objectives of the development work were:
(1) to gain a research-oriented, developmental and problem-based higher education approach to studying;
(2) to provide students with competence to use agile design methods flexible at all stages of the service design process; and
(3) to provide students with competence to gather, structure and apply information in genuine R&D contexts.

The development work focused not only on the pedagogical issues, but also on student and stakeholder participation in the innovation process, and on applying and developing appropriate service design tools and techniques for that purpose.

The outcome of the development work was an elective study unit in line with the five days sprint by Knapp et al. (2016), with the aim of providing students with the ability to design digital services with agile methods. The developed study unit forms a dual innovation model comprising:
(1) continuous development of methods through a test bed, and
(2) the application of competence to the partnership network’s R&D projects.

The structure of this paper is as follows. First, the paper describes the key concepts and theories; service design in digital context and agile methods. Next, it presents research and development cases where the agile methods were applied to digital service design in practice. Finally, the last chapter represents the research findings and benefits of the agile development approach in service design.