- How did you at first get involved with designing for children/students? That’s quite a long story. As I remember it was about 12 years ago, I was invited to a session developing new equipment for gymnastics and physical activity. Ole Striim, a creativity coach back then, showed me some methods for creating ideas and the difference between logical and creative thinking. After that I started using the methods in my gymnastics course. The students up to that point finish the course off by creating a show – or rather it was us teachers that created the show. We chose the theme and organized every thing. After that I started teaching the students the creative methods, they selected the theme for the group performance them selves, and I asked them to use specific methods. That could for example be association word chain or a number of other tools in creating ideas. 6 years ago I started a course using video feedback in motor learning and control. In that course the students must develop or innovate new coaching products for a company called www.bevaegelsescoaching.dk. In that course we also use creative tools in some parts of the teaching. The last two years I have been working in the project “Kids n’ Tweens”. In the project we have assigned each other an obligation involving kids and tweens in the design process.
- How do you involve children in a design process? So far we have used kids in testing concepts and also in the specific design process. This has given me the experience that kids are quite creative, but they like to be very concrete in the creation work.
- Before starting on a project, how do you plan the process? First of all you have to get the question right. What is it you are going for and can that be explained for the kids in a way that they understand the challenge of the problem. Then I try to put together a divergent team with a lot of different competences – also kids – and if there is to many adults my experience is that it is not so well functioning. Then I make sure that I have some divergent sessions, some convergent sessions and I also like to have some rapid-prototyping, which can be filmed or in some way or other be documented. In the kids n’ Tweens project I also like to have some process coaches, so that I myself can stand a little in the back ground and pick up if something is missing or goes wrong.
- When working with the users, how does it influence the process? I always try to be in dialog with the users. The question is some what divided. If the users are the customer I always, in every part of the process, communicate with them about the partial results. Thereby I try to keep up on the validation process. Regarding the participants in the process I always try to sense the atmosphere and adjust according to that and the process progression. You never know the exact process progression beforehand or the exact product or partial results.
- What is your optimal result when designing? In the process of getting from an idea or a problem to a finish product or social concept my optimal result is always that the concept or product will solve the problem or make the idea in to practice in reality. Otherwise the optimal result for the process, products or the between products is that they will push the process in direction of generating more clearness or creativity in to the end result.
- How do you plan the process to comply the aim? By having a deadline and a starting point and in between I negotiate with all the partners and stakeholders about time resources (man power), economical resources and the needed knowledge and process resources. Based on all these aspects I put together a plan with some milestones, meetings and testing phases.
- Do you try to create a sense of ownership for the users? If Yes: How? If No: Why not? Yes – first of all by asking them to put economical as well as time resources in to the project. Also I ask them, what are there needs in the company and organization and I ask them to participate in the process meetings. And by doing this that they normally get a feeling of ownership in the ‘project’ and the projects work phases.
- If you ever feel like you get stuck during a project, or in a process, where do you turn? (Colleagues, inspiration from the Internet, net-communities, friends, experts etc.) Roughly just about all of them. I always keep on trying until I get what I think is right. Persistence is a premise and necessary quality, I think.
– If you have worked with children/students and/or teachers how did they take part in the process? They ware the creators them self and thereby they are the main power of the process. Often I have experienced that all kind of people, adults, kids and tweens have lot more creative power then they think them self. By this process they also get the feeling of ownership to the result.
“We have found that, just as Sir Ken Robinson argues in his famous talks about the education paradigm, kids are being taught out of creativity.” - So when you work with people who you feel have unlearned their imagination, how do you go about re-opening that side of them? By ‘appreciatively’, by believing that all people have a creative gene and by using creative exercises, my experience is that all people can create things that they never thought they would create. Finally I put up a quite tight structure that surrounds the process with confidence and security of the process.
– When working with a project that concerns a big part of the community, how do you get them involved? Actually I think this is the most difficult part and a part that I do not manage too well. One of the things I think that I have to do, and to get better at, is to establish a network on, for example, a facebook group or a blog, which will offer the community an open opportunity to get informed and involved.
– Please tell us about one (or more) methods of your personal favorite, when it comes to opening up the process and creating new ideas? I really like to use the ‘word association chain’. As an starter I think it is smart to involve body and movements and in that I like the exercises of telling your day backwards to your peer and after that you’re just writing down all the ideas your have at that moment.
– Please tell us about a good experience while working in collaboration with users. I still think that some of my best experiences have been when I see the twinkle in the eyes of students when they end up with a performance that they have created themselves whether it is on video or it is in real time. At that point you believe that education even at the university can be more then just downloading – which I think is a must now a days.
– What does that mean to you? That I got one of the most inspiring jobs and life is worth living.
Thank you for pushing me and thereby giving me the freedom to write and by that to reflect on my practice in creative learning.
I really hope you girls can use text for something – Kind regards/ Lars