Sam Seidel

Designing Models That Support And Empower 21st Century Students

More About Sam Seidel And The Student Experience Lab

Sam Seidel leads BIF’s Student Experience Lab, which designs, prototypes, and shares education models that empower 21st-century students. We partner with stand-alone institutions, school districts, nonprofit organizations, companies, and foundations to generate cutting-edge solutions to major education challenges.

Here’s how we do it:

We start with a Design Challenge.

Example: Our Design Challenge for a Utah State University project was to work with students to envision a new student services delivery experience and to develop a web-based portal that would support student success with their evolving personal, academic, strategic, and financial goals.

Shift: Human-Centered Research

Shifting the organization’s lens enables leaders to see transformational opportunities from the customer’s perspective, translating them into an actionable foundation for design.

Example: In the Shift phase of a project for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we interviewed innovators within the education and design sectors to understand available platforms and current trends in teacher leadership and engagement. BIF also pulled from previous research they performed with funding from the Gates Foundation — Fund for Teachers — which pointed to many opportunity areas for designing new models for effective teaching.

Conceptual Design: Create, Deliver, Capture

Once a customer's job-to-be-done is identified, we can imagine a new customer experience and begin developing a next-practice or business model concept ready to be taken off the whiteboard and into the market for testing.

Example: In the Create, Deliver, Capture phase of a project for the University of West Florida, we used insights and opportunity areas from foundational research as a launch pad for the ideation of concepts and solutions that would break down barriers for adult learners and assist them in completing their education. These solutions varied in degree of difficulty of implementation and were prioritized based on whether they could be developed in the near- or long-term.

Prototype & Test

With a conceptual next practice or new business model idea ready to test, a low-fidelity prototype is developed and taken into the market to test iteratively for feasibility and viability in the real world.

Example: In the prototype & testing phase of a project for Southern New Hampshire University, we created a low-fidelity prototype of the model-based platform and tested it with end users to gain feedback. BIF discovered insights about users’ experience with the platform and incorporated findings from the prototyping and testing phase into the original conceptual model. The uncovered insights and informed conceptual model developed by BIF served as a foundation to for the final platform design of SNHU’s competency-based AA degree program.


With a market-tested minimum viable business model, organizations are in the best position to develop a go-to-market strategy and implementation plan to successfully commercialize next practices and new business models.

Example: During the Commercialize phase of a project for Next Generation Learning Challenges and the Rodel Foundation of Delaware, we created a strategic roadmap of potential next steps for leaders of State Education Organizations (SEO) to mover forward, including a phased launch and workflow for the network. SEO leaders were able to use the strategic roadmap and feedback to take the next steps in creating a network model.