TEAMTALK | In the fall semester of 2009-2010, Johan Hoorn (Managing Director of the Center for Advanced Media Research at VU University Amsterdam) launched a THNK undergraduate pilot course at the Amsterdam University College (a joint initiative by the VU University Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam), titled "Multimedia and Design Thinking". The course provided a platform to test THNK methodological prototypes that are to be applied in its post-graduate education in the near future.
One of our student participants, Dora Tamari Tutnjevic, describes her participation in the course below:
“Whenever people ask what the 'Multimedia and Design Thinking' course was all about, I am never sure of what to say exactly because the format consisted of very diverse elements. In a nutshell, there were lots of heated discussions that challenged our common beliefs and assumptions, brainstorming sessions that confronted our mental blocks, field trips to either get inspired or present our inspired ideas, individual projects fit to one’s personal interest, as well as a big group project that joined all of the smaller projects together—and much more.
Hence, my experience of participating in the course is best described in terms of a personal journey. The freedom to explore our own interests and ideas within the framework of the course meant progressing as much or as little as one allowed oneself to. I finished the course with so much more baggage than mere multimedia knowledge. Insights that are valuable to me are the following: ideas that may seem crazy at first instance are not crazy by definition; working in a group is very demanding but a worthwhile challenge; it is important to approach the ideas of others constructively and to recognize the moments when it is best to take a step back when functioning in a group; even the best ideas are not good enough if you cannot convey them to others; and, no idea is so original that only one person can claim credit for the whole.
Group work was at the very core of the course. All of our ideas and projects were morphing together and directing the big project into different directions after each discussion. Having to constantly consider others’ ideas was not without frustration, but the countless times where I was inspired and encouraged by my peers made me understand and value the idea of group work much more than before. Moreover, the course was unique in its hands-on approach that is not necessarily common in academia. Our learning was complemented by frequent peeks into the real world to find inspiration. All of these visits and related learning culminated in us pitching our project to the creative industry. The glimpse into the working world turned the experience into a more well-rounded one as we were presented with the continuum of developing a project from scratch to the point where our ideas actually materialized meaningfully.”