Project Community is a project, a community and a set of tools for using online communities and networks for enhancing the design process in any context.

  • It is a project, because we are using team projects as an action learning approach. We aren’t just going to talk about using communities & networks, we are going to USE them.
  • It is a community – as we will be learning together: a learning community.
  • It exposes you to a set of tools that you can use throughout your time at the University and beyond. By tools, we mean not only online technologies, but frameworks for thinking about communities and networks, practices in working together and in tapping those networks.

At the beginning of Project Community you will most likely be a little bit confused. Don’t worry. This course embraces Confusiasm. It is designed so that your participation generates your learning. We are here to help, but what you get out of it is, as they say, is what you put into it.

At the end of Project Community, you will have:

  • new and/or enhanced online interaction technology skills,
  • a strategic understanding of how communities and networks can support innovative design,
  • real team experience and,
  • for some of you, new insights into the role of design in service of the world in terms of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We have chosen to place our learning in the Non Governmental (NGO) world to give some context and, hopefully inspire some of you to consider applying your current and future design skills to making the world a better place!

Worried about “teamwork?” Don’t. We are already setting the scene for our team projects. You will be assigned to a team to work with for the rest of this module. You will learn together and produce, as a way of demonstrating your learning, a multimedia presentation. However, part of your grade is related to individual work.

United Nations Sustainable Development platform

United Nations Sustainable Development platform

Scene setting

A NGO has identified the need to nurture more community owned innovation in support of their goals. They realize that development goals should be driven by the needs AND ideas of people in developing countries. They and other possible contributors also have ideas, and usefully diverse understandings of challenges and resources. By connecting the needs, desires and ideas into a more global innovation marketplace, the NGOs hypothesize that there can be more ground-up innovation to help reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). We agree that this way of approaching design challenges, not only for products, but even for projects or policy, may be more inclusive, efficient and more grounded in people’s day to day reality. (SDG – these are the big targets that have been set globally to improve the lives of the poor).

Your NGO has commissioned a group (YOU), of leading young thinkers from around the world at an innovative university to “ground truth” their hypothesis by doing a study of how these global online groups and networks are strategically supporting innovative design from the ideation through production and user/customer support phase for products and ideas that help communities reach their own development goals.

The segments you are exploring include:

  1. Work teams – How can online tools and methods support global, distributed design teams? Who would be the perfect design team members to get the job done?
  2. Technology Stewardship. What tools and practices can enable this design collaboration? How can we help recommend or provide a workable platform?
  3. Networks As Resources: Generating and harvesting ideas via the net. How are product/project needs identified? How are innovative ideas generated using online tools and methods? How can online communities and networks promote and support the innovative new products/projects that help address the Sustainable Development Goals via Crowdsourcing and/or Crowdfunding? What are the group size dynamics that enable or hinder these processes (me, we, network)?

Each NGO has two to three teams working for them. They request that the teams create a single multimedia report (video) that can be shared globally with their constituency for feedback. It should be no more than 12 minutes combined running/reading time (2 minutes per team or a combination of teams when a single piece of advice is agreed upon).

Each team will be responsible for a strategic review of their client’s needs, and preparation of advice to the NGO about how they might use the above listed segments in their work. What applies? What might not work? Why? Each team will have members who take on a specific area of expertise to explore and to incorporate into their role tasks. Teams will research existing groups, networks and mechanisms in their specific field of expertise to understand their purpose, membership, technical architecture, social architecture and how they measure their own success.

The final video “advice” (posted on YouTube) should be coordinated with the other teams belonging to the same NGO into an easy to understand video. It will be presented to the NGO in a webinar and available for asynchronous viewing (at other times.) The presentation should be in clear, jargon free English as their constituency is global, many using English as a second language. Anticipate that most will not be familiar with many technological terms.

Place in the IDE program

The intersection of technology and social processes has changed what it means to “be together.” We are no longer confined to an engineering team, a company, a market segment or country. We have the opportunity to tap into different groups of people using online tools and processes. While we initially recognized this as “online communities,” the ubiquity and diversity of technology and access has widened our possibilities. It is time to think about a more diverse ecosystem of interaction possibilities which embrace things such as group configurations, online + offline, short and long-term interactions, etc.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by LEOL30: http://flickr.com/photos/lwr/9040834484/

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by LEOL30: http://flickr.com/photos/lwr/9040834484/

At IDE, we follow “The Four i’s of Innovation”

  • The first i is the itch; “a hunch” that there is something going on. This inclination can indicate the sublime starting point for change or innovation.
  • The second i is insight; the research framework on which to base the fundamentals of the innovation
  • The i for idea; the experimenting towards potential solutions (“what if”- approach)
  • The final i is for impact; the realization of the changes and innovations.

Competencies and overall learning goals

After successfully completing this course you will be able to (the numbers correspond to IDE IPO competences in the IDE Study Guide):

  1. Do Research (In this course we concentrate on learning to utilize online communities and networks in a project to serve an NGO in a strategic opportunity challenge. We also focus on the practices (how to do it) and, to do this, we critically consider and discern what approaches will enhance a particular design challenge.
    • 1.1. (Re)define problems and reason analytically
    • 1.2. Discover knowledge by investigating and experimenting
    • 1.3. Take external contexts into account in research (social, environmental, business)
  2. Design & Engineer (During Project Community, we start with the basics of an engineering process – with the people (why is tapping beyond one’s self valuable?) And we define the scope.
    • 2.3. Conceive ideas, concepts and solutions (in an advice to the NGO)
    • 2.4. Create a design (advice) by stakeholder involvement,….
  3. Organise & Manage (In this course we concentrate on understanding the roles of online communities and networks in the innovative design and on getting practical experience working together in online communities)
    • 3.1. Work methodologically
    • 3.2. Integrate different disciplines in a (holistic) design approach (via roles/tasks).
    • 3.3. Show resourcefulness, flexibility and willingness to make decisions in complex contexts
    • 3.5. Practice project, stakeholder, time and resource management
  4. Communicate (communication within a team, within an NGO group and to the NGO as well as with your tutor and fellow students is the main focus point)
    • 4.1. Manifest/present yourself in a (semi) professional setting
    • 4.2. Communicate within a team on team dynamics and (your) role
    • 4.3. Make deliverables tangible in a refined, communicative way (show what you’ve done).
    • 4.4. Communicate in a foreign language and/or in an international setting
  5. Learn (Understand and reflect on the use of technologies and practices to enable online communities and networks: the tools and use of the media (i.e.”online publishing, media creation, synchronous collaboration tools, and social media)
    • 5.1.Reflect on your role in projects
    • 5.2. Reflect on your impact on society as an innovator
    • 5.4. Integrate newly acquired knowledge in projects

Learning approach/expectations

Each student will be expected to:

  • Actively participate in their project team and in their specific theme/topic/expertise.
  • Understand their specific role within the team and collaborate weekly with other “experts” from other teams with the same role.
  • Write reflective weekly posts in their personal/team website blog. Prompts will be provided to stimulate a reflection or to answer a relevant question. Everyone will be expected to briefly but substantially comment on and give feedback to another peer on their blog post at least every other week.
  • Participate in class discussions, (virtual) field trips and other online activities.
  • Seek out and read/watch related content suggested by the teaching team and identified by the students themselves. We expect suggestions from you!
  • Participate & create a final multimedia online presentation as a team with their NGO team project.

Changes compared to last year (2014)

This course has lessened the emphasis on marketing, and will be using more active learning methods than last year. There is more emphasis on the competences concerning collaboration and communication as we have specified these better.

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Team Blogs
  1. 5 Kings 5kingsblog.wordpress.com
  2. BATCO batcoiwf.wordpress.com
  3. Blue Mood lijinghz2014.wordpress.com
  4. IDE Collaborators idecollaborators.wordpress.com
  5. IDE RESEARCHERS ideresearchers.wordpress.com
  6. InterHague interhague.wordpress.com
  7. ROBOBLOG blogwithswag.wordpress.com
  8. The Ducks projcomtheducks.wordpress.com
  9. Tiny Houses Found In Transition foundintransitionblog.wordpress.com
  10. Tiny Innovators tinyinnovators.wordpress.com
  11. watotomages watotomages.wordpress.com

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