This morning was a treat and a half. Five times over.

Via a Google Hangout with students in The Hague (Netherlands) connecting three of us in the US, one in Canada, one in Mexico, was the premiere of the videos representing the students work as part of Project Community, a design course at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

Not a MOOC, not anything you will read about in any edubuzz site, not totally an open course for others to do along side, but still done in the open, was student collaborative work turned way up past 11. And it’s pretty amazing stuff. I use amazing often, so this is the amazing kind of amazing.

This is the fourth year of this project that myself and Nancy White have been part of working with this first year course in the Industrial Design Engineering program.

The course part is managed by our colleague there Laura Stevens, and sections of students have local tutors (meet the team). The 9 week syllabus is heavy on group work, collaboration, all aimed toward projects that will support the work of a number of small Non Governmental Agencies (NGOs).

In previous years, we have had upwards of 80-100 students, all doing reflective blogging that I built syndication into the site, and we ended up with as many as 12 groups each doing projects for 3-5 NGOs. It was a lot of blog reading for the tutors and us, and thus some NGOs ended up communicating with 3 different groups and getting different recommendations from each as an end product.

This year we re-did the structure in a way that I think worked really well, gave the students a better team learning experience, and was more productive for the NGOs. The keys here were:

  • Students were put into smaller groups of 5, each taking on a different role (Team Project Leader, Client Services, Documentarian, Technology Steward, and Production Manager).
  • Each team then chose their own name, and set up a team blog on
  • Two to three teams were associated with one NGO, so there was a larger NGO team.
  • As we moved into the development of a final project, the larger NGO teams had to combine efforts to produce one video

So in the end, we ended up with 11 team blogs. Because of the way syndication to the course site was set up, we could split out blog posts per team, per individual author, per NGO

  1. 5 Kings
  2. BATCO
  3. Blue Mood
  4. IDE Collaborators
  6. InterHague
  8. The Ducks
  9. Tiny Houses Found In Transition
  10. Tiny Innovators
  11. watotomages

Today they had to show their final project videos to the rest of the class, and us. We did this in a live Google hangout, so we could not only see the video, but talk about them, and hear from the students how the team experience went. We had 4 representatives from the NGOs join us either in the hangout (one was in the room).

If you want to spend an hour reliving it, here is the archive

It is most worth watching to hear the students talk about their work, and also to hear what their work meant for the NGOs. The Tiny Houses group gave Shorty Robbins ideas that were really new (the ideas for funding and creating a system of “Tiny Offices”. Francois Bruley from the International Water Foundation was so impressed he handed out Honorary Founding memberships to all the students who worked on a project for his NGO. Cinthia Reyes of Robotica Educativa had just shared the recommendations of students with her board and she was overwhelmingly excited about putting several of them to work. We had a note of appreciation from Michelle Oliel from Stahli Foundation describing how the students went beyond their project to help her deal with a technical design issue. And the team that worked for Contru Casa came up with an idea that was new and novel to all of us (you just will have to watch the videos).

If you just want to check out the student videos, they are in a playlist:

We had some trickery in the hangout, as it always goes. Laura asked me to schedule and initialize it; she and the class participated with us via her iPad. The class just watched the videos play from a projected computer. This does not work well for us to see and hear in the hangout, so I decided to play the videos through the YouTube tool in Hangouts.

It does work well, though every hangout participant needs to install the Youtube thing, and because Laura was on an iPad, I had to mute her every time. I thought that what we played through the YouTube Hangout tool would go out on the stream and in the archive, but it did not. So to make a full video, I ended up downloading the hangout archive, the five student videos, and re-editing all in iMovie (I was able to trim about 20 minutes of non essential stuff, mostly me and Nancy being goofy).

The level of blogging this year and quality of the videos produced are orders of magnitude above what we did in previous years. Are we that good or are the students?

I really enjoyed seeing the variety of approaches the teams took to their video, some doing RSA Animate style, others with elegantly edit4e video, others with role play, and ones with clever animation approaches.

I am, as someone near and dear (and Mom) to me frequently said, “I am blown away”.

Top / Featured image credit: By Frederic Austin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so)

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