I have been hearing a lot about the benefits of co-creation as a collaborative approach to including students as partners in pedagogical planning processes.
But just how do we go about shifting perspectives of students as stakeholders to students as co-creators? Perhaps before we explore this, we should define what we mean by co-creation, what its value might be to staff and students and how we might use it as a curriculum enhancement tool.
What is co-creation?
Co-creation is the development of student-led, collaborative initiatives leading to co-created outputs. The outputs may be part of the curriculum (unit assessment driven for example) or co-curricular (related to the programme but not to a particular unit assessment/expectation). Co-creation can be applied to many areas of HE, in particular in curriculum development and research where students work in partnership with academics to improve the student experience.
Working on co-created initiatives enables active, experiential and problem-based learning, and facilitates student engagement. This helps students to develop new skills and confidence, learn how to apply knowledge, and has the potential to guide their career decisions and increase employability.
What is its value?
Co-creation has the potential to significantly impact upon institutional culture and enhance the student learning experience by creating a sense of a learning community. This is particularly likely where students are involved in curricular development and research, and work collaboratively with academics. At the same time, staff can gain much inspiration from the new, creative ideas of students and some co-creation projects have the potential to open up opportunities to work in partnership with external agencies and promote the reputation of the University for the Creative Arts to the wider community.
How might we use co-creation on UCA courses?
The Graphic Design courses at Epsom and Farnham piloted ‘co-creation’ as a tool for upcoming course periodic review. The course teams felt that Co-creation would provide an opportunity to progress student inclusivity and development of robust practices for both creation and enhancement of their courses. To this end, the course teams hosted an event, inviting academic colleagues, industry professionals, alumni, current students, external examiners and representatives from the Quality Assurance department to explore ideology and pedagogical enhancement.
The event was broken down into three parts:
- introduction presentations from Course Leaders on course ideology and proposed changes, noting uniqueness of each course within the school portfolio.
- part two explored ideology, career destination, relevance and added value of degree learning through small group discussion, groups clustered by whether the delegate was student, professional or academic etc.
- part three explored the proposed course content in small mixed groups.
This event took place four months prior to the periodic review of these graphic design courses; however, as below, to best utilise the practice, it should begin at the start of either course creation or initial considerations of substantial course changes or review process.
The event took approximately six weeks to organise, dedicating a few hours per week. Workplace was predominantly used to collaborate on status and organisation. This time was devoted to: online, telephone and Skype planning; contacting stakeholders; creating an appropriate guest list; location scouting and organising catering for the event; devising the events activities; and promoting the event.
Students and alumni were invited to contribute from their unique experiences of their course within the school portfolio. The project was interested in finding out their views and understanding of the portfolio, their choices, their aspirations, whether the courses meet their aspirations, and if their expectations are compatible with the expectations of academics and industry professionals.
For a full report of the experience of using co-creation on the Graphic Design courses see Graphic Design Co-creation Event Notes
Links, resources and further information
Tools that support co-creation activities
- Student Voice using Padlet Boards
- Web seminars, webcasts and peer-level interactive learning using Collaborate
- Audience response systems eg Mentimeter, Poll Anywhere
- Peer learning and self assessment