Case study: Digital transformation of Higher Horizons+

  • Sector: education
  • Services: graphic and digital design, illustration, animation, PowerPoint presentations, interactive PDF and document design.

Education is a lot about people. People sharing knowledge and helping other people to develop. However, during the coronavirus crisis, social distancing and lockdown measures have meant that educational institutions have experienced huge challenges to their usual working practices. Simply, people couldn’t be with people. But education is so important – and it must continue. So how could educational bodies overcome this?


Higher Horizons: how our designs brought a virtual learning hub to life

Higher Horizons is a government-funded outreach programme that delivers free and impartial higher education to schools and colleges across Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire. Like many educational programmes, they needed to quickly adapt to continue their services during the pandemic.

The brief: transform & design resources for online-use

As the government announced school closures, Higher Horizons recognised the need to get online – quickly. They knew what they needed to do: to make their courses accessible via an online hub to their large network of students. And they knew they’d need the support of Starbots Creative to make it happen – successfully.

“With school closures, our world changed overnight and we had to move quickly to adapt to the changing situation. We knew we needed to move our outreach and school-support programmes online, and with Starbots’ expertise we were able to do it, and quickly too.”
Dr. Hannah Merry Higher Horizons Operations Manager

The challenge: short deadlines & engaging students in this new virtual world

With little time to spare, speed combined with a high-quality design that worked to communicate their course material was vital. As we’ve worked with Higher Horizons for some time, we were a natural choice. And despite the tight deadlines, we knew we could quickly confirm a brief and get to work to deliver the assets Higher Horizons needed to make their virtual learning hub happen.

“Starbots quickly grasped what we needed and were able to produce high-quality products that met our needs and the (quite challenging!) deadlines we set. I would recommend Starbots to anyone who wants a fast, friendly, and responsive design service.”
Dr. Hannah Merry, Higher Horizons, Operations Manager

Dr. Hannah Merry, Higher Horizons Operations Manager

The product: virtual learning products for young people

Over a 2-week period, our team of designers transformed a series of non-student-facing teaching materials and transformed them into engaging and exciting student-facing resources that could be accessed on Higher Horizons’ virtual platform.

Materials spanned across 50 educational activities and it was paramount that Starbots delivered something that was easy-to-use and right for Higher Horizons+’s target audience – young people between the ages of 13-18. This meant designing creatively within the existing branding guidelines and balancing simplicity of getting over ‘the message’ of each educational resource with also ‘interest’ – so students would remain engaged outside their usual learning environments.

In this new virtual world, we knew it was important to ensure that we were there for the young people that we serve. Having created a virtual platform for over 50 educational activities, we needed a quality designer to make sure our sessions were slick and interactive. As always, Starbots delivered, and delivered quickly.
Ant Sutcliffe, Head of Higher Horizons

The results: successful delivery of a virtual learning platform

“Within the first week of launching the activities, over 800 young people from across our region had engaged with our sessions. That, in a large part, was thanks to the fantastic team at Starbots.”
Ant Sutcliffe, Head of Higher Horizons


All in all, we’re really proud of this project for Higher Horizons. This organisation knew what they wanted and knew what they had to do – and we gave them the tools to bring that vision to life – digitally. Our understanding of their brand combined with our quick reaction ensured they kept ‘business as usual’ for their network of young people. And that’s something that’s so important in these turbulent times.

We look forward to continuous work with Higher Horizons! And in particular, we’re excited to see where their digital transformation takes them.


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