Monthly Archives: May 2014

co_LAB Exhibition

The concept posters designed by both staff and student groups in the recent co_LAB workshop are being exhibited in the MHT foyer at the University of Lincoln over the weekend as part of  ‘As Above, So Below: A Colloquium on Drone Culture‘. Representatives from each group will be at the event to present their posters to delegates.





co_LAB – Inter-College Collaboration Laboratory:












Project 1 – Intensive Workshop

co_LAB Project 1 was a one week interdisciplinary workshop that took place between 12-16 May, 2014. Project 1 was designed to explore and develop new approaches to collaborative teaching and learning through the use of networked digital tools, and through the transferral of knowledge, skillsets and teaching styles. The pilot co_LAB workshop aimed to overcome traditional barriers of working between individual course specialisms by bringing together students and colleagues from across different academic disciplines to collaborate on a transmedia design project. The project was motivated by a desire to enhance collaboration and knowledge transfer, between different courses and schools within the College of Arts. Whilst many of the courses ran by the School of School of Film and Media share similar themes and creative skillsets, they are often located within separate buildings and have very different working practices. Students are subsequently siloed off into their individual course specialisms and rarely get the opportunity to share ideas or work collaboratively to produce new knowledge and creative outputs. The pilot project featured collaborations from a number of lecturers and 14 second year students from Media Production, Interactive Design and Contemporary Lens Media. It also featured a drone/robotics demonstration from Dr. John Murray from the School of Computer Science and an online lecture by Chris Heydra from The Hague University of Applied Science (which was streamed live and recorded to YouTube).

co_LAB Project 1 was the result of an internal ‘Fund for Educational Development’ programme, which was set up to support the implementation of the University of Lincoln’s ‘Student as Producer’ initiative through innovative curriculum redesign projects. The core concept of the Student as Producer project, led by the Educational Development and Enhancement Unit (EDEU) at the University of Lincoln, is research-engaged teaching. This means encouraging students at all levels and across all disciplines to see themselves as active producers of knowledge, rather than passive consumers. The principle of research-engaged teaching now underpins the curriculum across all subject areas at the University of Lincoln. co_LAB explored the following aims and objectives of Student as Producer:

  • Discovery – The open-ended brief and flexible teaching structure empowered students to define the working environment. The structure of the workshop itself was open to negotiation, whilst students were encouraged to pool their collective research and practice skills. This approach was designed to engage students in the discovery and sharing of new knowledge by underscoring the importance of research within the conceptual development stage.
  • Technology in Teaching – co_LAB utilised a range of Google Drive and associated software (Docs, Presentation and Hangouts) to share information. The project also made use of a blog to publicise the project, as well as a number of social media platforms to foster closer working partnerships between staff and students. We believe that by leveraging the capabilities of Web 2.0 technologies this model of digital scholarship can facilitate a more open, interactive and collaborative working environment for teaching and learning.
  • Space & Spatiality – The technologies and virtual learning environments used in this project allowed for real-time collaboration whereby information and knowledge could be accessed and disseminated across a number of networked devices.
  • Assessment – Peer-review and student driven feedback was encouraged throughout the project. The workshop was also planned to coincide with ‘As Above, So Below’, an international academic event on ‘drone culture’ and network politics. Not only did the workshop share similar themes, the work produced during the co_LAB programme was exhibited at this public event. This demonstrated the ‘real-world’ context of research and encouraged students to engage in greater depth with the development of ideas.
  • Student Voice – The established teacher/student divide was avoided wherever possible, with optional seminars, interactive workshops, student-led presentations, group discussions and plenaries taking the place of the traditional, rigid lecture/seminar structure.
  • Research & Evaluation – Participants were engaged in active research activities throughout the conceptual development, presentation and delivery of projects. A collaborative approach to research was encouraged, with both staff and students contributing to an archive of research sources. A number of open plenaries were held to discuss and evaluate this research in relation to developing student concepts.

Workshop Day 5

So, our first co_LAB experiment is finally drawing to a close. We have seen some great ideas and concepts being generated over the past three weeks, and are really keen to continue this culture of collaboration. With that in mind, we kicked things off by setting the teams a number of ‘post-workshop’ tasks:

1 – Finish any creative outputs relating to your projects (mock-up videos, website/blog, visualisations, etc.)

2 – Write an overview of your concept for publication on the blog – this should outline what the concept is, address issues of usability/functionality, discuss how the concept relates to the brief and how this was developed. Finally, offer an evaluation of the project and working process.

3 – Complete the evaluation form.

4 – Continue to co_LABorate with each other.




The rest of the day was focussed on developing the visual branding for concepts, with teams putting the finishing touches to the posters. The room was a ‘hive’ of activity, with lots of great design work being generated.






The workshop culminated with each group presenting their posters, with feedback being provided by both staff and students.



Workshop Day 4

Todays workshop kicked off with some physical and mental exercises, with Graham Cooper (L.S.M) getting participants up on their feet in a series of activities designed to highlight the strength of collaboration and positive thought, in addition to demonstrating how we use different sides of our brain for creative and rational thinking. Not only was this a bit of fun, it was also highly relevant to discussions we have been having about learning styles and approaches to creative thinking throughout the week.




co pic


Next up we had Clive McCarthy from Interactive Design (A.A.D), who discussed an art installation / piece of critical design he was involved with a few years ago, which attempted to visualise popular ‘trending tweets’. The project attempted to turn Twitter into a pure visual trending engine by wiring an Phidget board to a series of L.E.D lights. The 6 bulbs each represented a particular subject which would ‘light-up’ each time a ‘tweet’ would be published regarding that subject. By juxtaposing more serious ‘newsworthy’ stories (such as the crisis in Syria, The Arab Spring, etc.) alongside ‘pop culture’ references (like Justin Bieber), the trending engine highlighted the absurdity of contemporary networked communications, as the pop culture references would generally receive a far higher amount of ‘trending’ activity. Clive was keen to underscore that student work should always set out to ‘question’ – that creative design should be informed by a critical research question.




In line with the open and flexible approach to teaching that underpins the co_LAB ethos, throughout the week students have been asked to make suggestions for possible workshop content via a shared Google Doc. One of the most popular requests was for more information about application development and design. In response to this, James Field (L.S.M) presented a case study of an application he has recently designed (more information about concept development can be found on James’ brilliant blog), and gave some invaluable advice about the importance of market research for developing design concepts.




James also gave some advice for designing team posters, which the teams will produce in tomorrows workshop. These posters will represent the output for all group concepts, and are due to be exhibited during the forthcoming ‘As Above, So Below’ event. The rest of the day focussed on further concept development, with lecturers ‘dropping-in’ on group discussions to deliver feedback and advice.