Explore Collaborations: The project was titled ‘Friendly’ and was commissioned by the fast moving consumer goods company - Unilever


Managing the Collaboration

Tutors were asked the following question to help them to reflect on how you have monitored interactions during the project duration.

The tutor indicated the following team development tools were used to help the student work more effectively in their groups:

  • Problem framing (for e.g. brainstorming and mind-mapping)
  • Reflective diary

What kind of other measures did you put into place to help foster collaborative learning and for what purpose?

Within the team based structure ‘shared’ and ‘discrete’ working relationships were introduced so that students could share some information but retain some confidentiality within their groups until the focus of the project had been highly defined.

The first phase ‘ has design anything to say about the future of fluids?’ was so abstract in concept that a key to getting any design process to occur required the students to find ‘personal context’ and direction for their work. What was enabled was a forum for ‘story telling’, a creative narrative, which approached the problem as a shared experience for all.

This translated practically into developing a series of research ‘cards’ that gave a feel for areas of consideration – the students would then evaluate this, in their teams and add to, in line with discussion findings.

They then moved into developing initial ideas and then again went through a period of reflection and evaluation, beginning to reject some of the design ideas cards. A further period of design development began to get to grips with ideas, followed again by evaluation meetings, rejection and refining. These ideas were carried forward to the digital demonstration period using time-based media – video-editing software.
Building confidence was essential, it was not just about professionalism, it was about creative ideas – those students who were without levels of professionalism learned this through the process and it changed the way the students saw themselves, they gained confidence, it was not just about an artefact and a visual presentation. It was about thinking, really good thinking, just being professional doesn’t work.

How did you monitor students' progress during the collaborative project?
The tutor indicated that they monitored students progress:

  • By setting formal progress report stages

What kind of strategies did you use to manage the team development?

The tutor indicated that they use the following strategies to manage the team development:

A mixture of both -

Academic staff set up the teams – the members all decided how they would communicate with each other. One person in the team was nominated as project captain. The students had to set up their own meeting times and the group had to self-manage. Part of that experience was to create their own communication models to manage ideas, to effectively work in their own way. At the onset of the projects there were workshops for sharing knowledge and idea discussion to allow students to gain confidence – they had a brief that allowed for probing into the culture and environments that the project was aimed at. Staff didn’t feed the students too much information. The students were expected to explore as broadly as possible.Company market research can sometimes be prescriptive, so the students used tools like ‘MySpace’ to go global, they put out questions and got responses from places such as Malaysia.