Monthly Archives: October 2014

HCD Short Course – Week 2

This week the team taking part in the Human Centred Design Course for Social Change, ran by in partnership with Acumen, discussed research methods, chose a design challenge, and finalised design teams (which was the first assessment for this course). Given that we had very little time to recruit student participants, we initially planned to form one group in order to evaluate the online course and NovoEd’s Virtual Learning Environment as part of OnCreate. However, we were able to recruit a enough participants from across College of Arts, as well as Alasdair Houser (Programme Manager & Senior EAP Tutor from the English Language Centre), that we actually ended up forming three design teams.

These teams were assigned by each participant rating the three available design challenges in terms of which one they wanted most to work on, the potential for community impact, and feasibility to complete in the allotted time. As a result of this process we have 1 team of six who have chosen to work on ‘design challenge 1′ (design new systems or strengthen existing programs that cultivate and support social entrepreneurship), and two groups of 4 that chose to focus on design ‘challenge 3′ (design new ways or strengthen existing ways to ensure children in low income communities thrive in their first five years). This challenge has an extra motivation of being the subject of IDEO’s ‘Amplify’ program, designed “to make international aid more collaborative and human-centered. Through a series of 10 innovation challenges over the next five years, human-centered designers from across the globe are encouraged to join the OpenIDEO platform and work together to design a better world.” As part of this program, teams choosing ‘design challenge 3′ have the opportunity to submit the ideas that result from this course directly onto the OpenIDEO platform and have tangible solutions out in the world! 

The three design teams are each made up of a mix students and lecturers, collaborating on the course assignments as equals and learning from each other. The content is new to us all, so the project presents an interesting opportunity to explore new cooperative learning strategies, as staff and students will be sharing the experience and working together in the production of new knowledge. Whilst we have formed three separate design teams, we shall continue to all meet up for the weekly workshops. Each workshop is to be assigned a ‘workshop leader’ to chair discussions, be a time-keeper, and outline the key tasks of the workshop. This week saw Media Production student James Smith perform this role admirably. This approach epitomises the ethos of co_LAB, which seeks to develop more engaging and participatory modes of education. By removing the lecturer/student divide, we hope that students will feel more empowered to engage in research and take ownership of the project as we work together to form what Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger call ‘communities of practice’. Communities of practice are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour. According to Wenger (2007), three elements are crucial in distinguishing a community of practice from other groups and communities:

The domain. A community of practice is is something more than a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest. Membership therefore implies a commitment to the domain, and therefore a shared competence that distinguishes members from other people.

The community. In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other.

The practice. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short a shared practice.

As part of the second assignment the teams have been tasked with identifying the research methods and sources they wish to use as ‘inspiration’ for their projects. As we learnt last week, the ‘inspiration’ phase requires design teams to get out into the world and learn from people. Each team has to plan who to speak with, where to visit, and the types of research that that will be conducted. This particular task provides a great opportunity to evaluate the integration of GoogleDocs within the NovaED workspace, as the three teams will be using this software to collaborate asynchronously throughout the week to complete the research plans. The co_LAB team has lots of experience utilising GoogleDocs in an educational context, but this is the first time we have had the chance to analyse this collaborative software from a student context. The deadline for this assignment is 27th October, so it will be interesting to see how the teams get on in terms of using online collaborative tools to work to a relatively tight deadline.

Check back to see how we all get on!

co_LAB at Kinetica Art Fair

From 16th – 19th October 2014, co_LAB will present its newest creation, Grid Zone Drone, at Kinetica – an international exhibition providing a global platform for galleries, curatorial groups, design studios and artists working with new media art. 2014 marks the third consecutive year that the University of Lincoln has been represented at the global art fair.

Grid Zone Drone represents a continuation of the group’s research into ‘drone culture’, and explores the detachment of the drone within a virtual environment. Grid Zone Drone was developed by graduate Dan Rennie and digital media tutor Clive McCarthy. The show design was created by Senior lecturer James Field and curated by Clive McCarthy. Graham and James will also be heading down to Kinetica to discuss the project and to showcase a number of other outcomes from this exciting digital project at the exhibition, using interactive gamification platforms.

Kinetica pano


Kinetica runs from 16th – 19th October at The Old Truman Brewery in London – visit and

A new endeavour for co_LAB

Today sees the start of  a new project for us. A group of students and the team are collaborating on an exciting project set by in partnership with Acumen. This particular course is focussed on Human Centred Design for Social Change and we will be creating concepts and (hopefully) prototypes of products, services, spaces or systems while learning the processes of “Design Thinking”.

Delivery of the course content is via NovoEd’s excellent Virtual Learning Environment and the way the model works is that the participants read the materials for a particular workshop (released on Tuesday mornings) and then hold a meeting to discuss them and respond to the activities set. Meetings can be a physical meet-up or virtual and each group is provided with a cloud-based area of the VLE to store their responses, communicate, and tools to help collaborate and manage logistics.

There are a mix of informal and formal assessment points (with very clear submission dates and processes). Each participating group is also encouraged to peer review another participating team’s responses.

Suggestions are made by the hosts on how to organise, plan and run the workshops and include notions of: ‘rotating the workshop facilitator’, ‘each participant taking responsibility for their own learning prior to the meet-up’ and ‘sharing the group’s experiences with the global learning community’. And it really is a global community:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 09.40.17

The NovoEd Course Model

It is not only the content of the course that is intriguing to the co_LAB team. Don’t get me wrong, learning a new way of approaching design is very exciting and I’m sure we will apply some of (if not all) the principles and processes to our future projects and our teaching at the University. But as a research group grounded in collaborative education and experiences, we are always on the “look out” for models of content delivery that efficiently facilitate the delivery of intuitive, meaningful collaborative-focussed education.

Early indications from the NovoEd platform are very positive. The system seems to work well. It looks smart and all the expected functionality is present and correct. It is the first system of this nature we have encountered that integrates Google Docs/Drive accounts and offers a workspace where these files are accessible by the entire team. Google Docs/Drive has become a mainstay of all our collaborative projects and it is pleasing to see the system can be integrated into a separate provision. This is something we have been researching but until this opportunity came along, we have never seen it integrated successfully or appropriately.

Another great feature is the simple structure (and therefore navigation) of the provision for each course. Virtually everything is where you expect to find it and the most important aspects are clear and presented appropriately:

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.04.04

So far so good and we’ll be reporting on our future experiences the further we progress along the course. Although it has to be said that creating your own “team” wasn’t the most intuitive experience. Marks off for NovoEd there!

One of our goals (one day) is to create a collaborative learning ecosystem of our own, one that is suitable for a range of activities and not restricted to just formal education. Learning from the NovoEd model is going to unlock a new set of values based on different expectations of a system that is confined to a formal FE/HE environment.

The co_LAB Approach

As mentioned above, we are participating in this course as a co_LAB activity. We are also using this to fulfil some of the criteria for our participation in a new EU-funded programme called OnCreate. More about this particular programme will start to filter through after the first meeting of all the partners. This is scheduled to happen during the MindTrek international forum of future media 4-6th November.

To organise this, we put a call out to students and participants of the previous co_LAB projects to see if we could form at least 1 team. We managed to recruit enough students (despite the relatively demanding time requirements) for 2 teams with 2 members of staff assigned to each.

We plan to meet on Wednesdays at 16.00 each week for the next 7 weeks to participate in the provided workshop activities and formulate our responses to the formal brief which is going to be set in the 2nd week.

Communication for organisation, sharing research and general community stuff will use the tried-and-tested model employed by co_LAB of mixing different provisions including Google Docs/Drive to share development ideas, Facebook for communication, logistics & social interaction and a blog (possibly this blog) to document the experience.

The first workshop is today and I (James) will be the facilitator. It is the facilitator’s role to organise the meeting, prepare the materials and ensure they are very familiar with the content of the workshop ready to lead the discussions and organise the provided activities. They then select the facilitator for the following week’s meet-up. Hopefully, most of the participants will experience the role of facilitator by the end of the course.

The final job for the facilitator is to update the blog with a breakdown of what happened during the meet-up so we can document our experience for the OnCreate project and share everything with the global community of participants on the course via the NovoEd platform.

Stay tuned for more!

EU Erasmus Meeting at Academy of Pop Culture

During the Minerva Academy of Popular Culture’s annual iWeek, at which Graham and Martyn delivered a workshop, representatives from the participating Universities had a meeting to discuss a joint bid for a large scale multinational research project, ‘Connected Neighbourhoods’, and took the first steps in developing a potential EU Erasmus Strategic Partnership between the following institutions:

– Tampere University of Applied Sciences, TAMK (Finland)

– Liepaja University, MP-LAB (Latvia)

– Budapest University of Applied Sciences BKF (Hungary)

– UVic (Catalonia)

– Hanze (Academy of Pop Culture)

– University of Lincoln, co_LAB (UK)

Leeuwarden partners

The strategic partnership will be used to exchange best practices in teaching and learning, to design and implement international collaborative courses, and to research issues of pedagogy for future publications. The project will be linked by projects between  the partner Universities and through student/teaching exchanges, whilst information will be disseminated during existing iWeeks and conferences at these institutions.

The dialogue and shared values between this international network of universities appears to be very strong, and has been formed out of previous collaborations between the Universities and their representatives. We will  find out in November whether the funding bid has been successful.

(Fingers crossed!)