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Friendly competition: A model for contemporary design education

In this Project I worked as a Student Assistant on a model for contemporary design education at the The Hague University. The first year students asked for a way to improve on hard skills such as design research, sketching, prototyping, CAD and rendering. By considering the low hierarchy in The Netherlands and my own experience in online education, I developed an autodidactic module built around intrinsic motivation, conscious learning and challenge among peers.

The module is built around the concept of friendly competition amongst peers. Bi-weekly sprints challenge the participants to take a dedicated topic and go through the phases of design research, idea generation, making, testing and presenting a final concept. The work is published on an internal Sketchdrive group and commented and rated by peers and a special commitee.

The deliverables are a creative brief, ideation sketches, a physical prototype, a CAD model and a final rendering. In each session a winner is awarded through voting and the commitee. Not only the final concept is rated but the whole process.

The topic of the competitions are assigned by a volunteer – this can be a student as well as a company or a professor. The challenges can be carried out by individuals or groups of 2 students and have no dedicated working areas or time slots; the students have to organise themselves but have to deliver on the set deadlines for each phase.

Materials for inspiration or acquiring a certain skill (courses, documentations, archives, etc.) for each phase and topic have to be provided online.

I am proud of seeing how design thinking helped me to help the students help themselves. By analysing and combining the students‘ needs and desires with educational trends and findings from the fields of neuroscience and sociology I learned once again that design thinking is valuable across many sectors.