In November and December 2019, students of the Maastricht University Masters Media Studies: Digital Cultures followed the IGNITE course ‘Introduction to Design Thinking and Maker Culture’. In this course, students were introduced to the principles, methods, and theories of Design Thinking, and gained an understanding of Maker Culture through the creation of an audio narrative.
Learning through making
In groups of three or four, students made a soundscape in the form of an audio narrative for the digital platform Echoes.xyz. Throughout this making process, students engaged in various design thinking exercises, such as making personas, as well as go through the various stages of a design-thinking process. They received the opportunity to present their ideas mid-way and receive feedback to reflect and iterate on their product. Thus, the course had a strong focus on ‘making’.
Simultaneously, students were introduced to various theoretical approaches relevant to the creation of their audio narratives. Concepts from sound studies, such as aural architecture and the physicality of sound, were discussed alongside debates on the relationship between theory, making, and design in the field of the Digital Humanities. Furthermore, the multimodal learning environment on IGNITE allowed students to learn more about Design Thinking and Maker Culture through readings, videos, hyperlinks, images, etc.
Reflection and feedback
As part of their final assessment, students pitched and presented their audio narrative, sharing with their tutors and classmates their reflections on their making process. They also wrote academic blog posts in which they explored either ‘the Use of Design Thinking as a Process,’ or ‘Critical Making as a Form of Knowledge Creation’.
As the course concluded, students were invited to participate in an interactive feedback session led by IGNITE team members Shiro Inoue and Costas Papadopoulos. The feedback session not only provided valuable feedback on the course; it also allowed students to experience the usage of design thinking methods in a focus group.
Students had to write a blog post in which they shared their reflections on the making process. In this blog post, you can read how Esther Kamara, a student on the MA in Media Cultures (class of 2020) calls for a deconstruction of critical making as she reflects on the usage of technologies during the making process.