Week 3 – Refining the project

This week was the first that I’ve been able to fully dedicate to my MA project. For the first two weeks I’d chosen to straddle two projects because I’m a masochist and I was working to finish a deck for the RSA student design competition which I wanted to enter my Mynd project from GDE740 into.

Having a little bit of space from my initial ideas actually really helped though, I had done a lot of initial research around interdisciplinarity and around teaching methodologies but I needed to give myself some time to parse everything that I’d learned and to think about what direction my project was going to take.

As before I used Milanote to work through my process, focusing on the design question and the aims / objectives. I tried to pare back from the previous questions that I’d posted on the ideas wall as they all seemed to get a similar response – basically that I was probably biting off more than I could chew!

Initially I don’t think that I had been clear enough about my intentions and Stuart didn’t quite understand what I was trying to do. I wrote a long response to his questions discussing in depth the myriad of ways that graduates are actually a really struggling group within wider society right now, especially those that come from disprivileged backgrounds. I think Stuart’s initial response was perhaps grounded in what he saw as a narrowing of the kind of students that are coming to university today whereas I was much more interested in looking at those students that graduated a few years ago that were from a much wider demographic group thanks to the relatively low fees that were charged then.

Still, some of what Stuart said was fair enough and I continued to tweak my research question removing the ‘we’ until I ended up at this:

This was the question that I ended up taking to the webinar on Thursday, the consensus was that it was perhaps still too wordy but that it better reflected the direction that I wanted to take. I eventually managed to break it down even further and the final question (for now) that I’ve arrived at is simply “How can design support struggling graduates?”

Alongside these discussions on the ideas wall and during the bi-weekly peer-to-peer sessions I had started to really think about how I might try and go about what I wanted to achieve. My initial focus as I said had been on interdisciplinarity but when I took a step back I realised that perhaps the specific skills that I’d like to help graduates by teaching them wasn’t as important as the creation of a space in which that teaching can take place. I bounced a few ideas around with my partner and with some friends and eventually landed on an idea that took me back to the Mindhive project which had really been the start of all this. I was reminded that in that original plan I had proposed a website with individual profiles on it which would allow you to see other individuals that you might like to work with and their specialisms / background. I decided that perhaps I could take that aspect one step further and create a space where learning was essentially gamified with the end goal of adding items to this digital CV.

I realised that I could host events such as talks, workshops and short courses on a platform that gave a badge to everybody that attends. Over time they could pick and choose what they wanted to learn about and their profile would build up to reflect the extracurricular learning that they’d engaged with. This could then inform a collaborative back end to the website where graduates post up project ideas that they want collaborators for and they’re able to select participants that they feel might be the best fit based on their profiles. In essence, what I want to create here is a space that rewards interdisciplinary working but that doesn’t bog the users down in the formalities that tend to accompany that kind of practice. I believe that most of us have the capacity to work in diverse teams and I want to create a space where graduates can try it out and keep themselves switched on and engaged even if there’s no career opportunities in their field of study.

Next steps

I had a chat with Stuart 1-1 yesterday and he seemed to like the idea and the direction that the project was taking which was good to hear. I’ve been working on my submission for Friday whilst also trying to help out other students wherever I can. I now have everything except my resource plan completed but I have a few ideas and items for that already prepared so it hopefully shouldn’t take long.

I’ve paid for an online course with Domestika which will take me through the basics of Adobe XD which I’ll try to fit in over the next week. I haven’t used the program before but I feel as though wireframing is going to be a core part of this project and I’ll need to brush up on it.

I’ve also pushed out a questionnaire to a load of my graduate friends yesterday which I’ll cover in another blog post. I’m hoping that it will give me some broad insights to kick off my primary research. I’ve also booked in a chat with Thomas Joy who is a creative director with Beacon Agency – a start up marketing consultancy that works with smart home companies like Ryng. I’m hoping to chat about his experience as a young entrepreneur and what some of the pitfalls to watch out for might be etc. Hopefully that will be recorded by next week too.

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