Friday, November 23, 2012

BPN 1617: The social University (2)

Fireworks were promised by the conference organisers oand fireworks the conference delegates got. The first speaker was Mr Adam Montandon, a UK citizen working in Denmark. He is not completely unknown in this circle of people as he won the Europrix overall award in 2004 with an applied multimedia project for a practical problem. For a man who was absolutely colourblind, he and his team thought up a cyborg, a camera linked to a microcomputer, which translated colours into sounds. The camera has been refined and is now part of a pair of glasses. So in 2004 he already was able to look at the world in a different way for solutions. And in fact he still does, but now he is an assistant professor and teaches students in Denmark creativity or how do I tackle problems from different angles.

In his presentation he summed up a series of projects he had started at the IAL school. All these projects carried the same slogan: Look at things in a different way and just play! And playing they do. In order to learn code and object, they play human table football. Having played the game and understood the objective, the students will never forget what code is and how object can be recognized. An absolute racket is playing the game of space invaders by humans. Opponents are charging right at you and try to get through line of humans. Interesting was the assignment to build QR codes with Lego (what else in Denmark). Participants will never forget how precise they have to be in constructing the QR code. Misplacing a piece of Lego will produce a wrong QR code or even a non-code.

The assignments are intellectual and physical. Believing in yourself can be tested by using techniques from Taekwondo. Slashing a piece of wood really makes your day; for some people slashing an iPad would make their week! But what about business skills. Students get stuck with plastic swans and have to turn the lot into a business opportunity. And some students did it. They produced ice-swans and sold them. A business group of students had to produce a rap about business ideas and also composed a rap about business ideas.

Crazy ideas, but where do they lead to? At least students experience a very unconventional assignment, but will often remember it. The coding assignment will stay grafted in their memory and having completed the QR assignment, they will never be sloppy about a precision assignment. And all these crazy ideas even lead to new start-ups such as Free Hugs, a company to cheer up people in the street. The business model still has to be worked out, but paid advertisement and free publicity should be able to cover costs.

The man bubbles with ideas and is a master in unexpected social interruptions. And he loves it. One of his sayings is: there might be a credit crisis, but there is no creative crisis. And another is really sharp: don’t look for a job, but for an occupation; something that might interest you for a long time, businesswise but also personal.

Adam made also the observation that all teachers want to be different, but they all have the students use the same book. And this is funny for him to say, as he is finishing up a book called The Awesome Department, which is book on creativity and contains many suggestions for assignments. The book is due to be published shortly (in English, of course), but you can pre-order and follow the title blog..

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