HELLO? MADAGASKAR? CAN YOU HEAR US? A group of students from the University for Applied Science Berlin tested during one semester a unique form of teaching, learning and co-creating between the northern and southern hemisphere. 15 Berlin-based and 10 Antananarivo-based business, IT and engineering students used online tools to co-create new products and services within the realm of 'Internet of Things'. The process of work was shaped by design thinking. The combination between tech, business and design mindsets, merged with digital collaboration tools and intercultural frictions, revealed important insights not only about the future of education but also about how creative collaboration in digital international teams works.
MOOCs* are dead. Long live the SPOCs**!
This Malagasy-German University project resulted from re:publica's Global Innovation Gathering (GIG). We wondered how might we assure a lean, unbureaucratic and simple knowledge transfer between African Tech Hubs and European Universities. Internet and Communication Technology (ICT) would help us overcome space and time limitations, make skills and knowledge easily accessible, international collaboration possible and would eventually foster global collaboration and IoT innovations.
So we invited the Malagasy Innovation HUB Habaka to join our course about 'Design Thinking and Internet of Things' and designed a so-called SPOC (Small Private Online Course).
While teaching creativity and design methods in the 'analogue' classroom already is quite a challenging task, adopting digital tools and building trust between the two hemispheres showed clear limitations.
It was clear that ICT based collaboration can hardly substitute human-to-human interaction necessary for trust-building, or human-to-product interactions crucial to ideating, physical prototyping and testing.
But technology does break political, social and geographic boundaries and gives participants a massive feeling of FREEDOM. Everything you imagine is possible once you have reached a level of systemic interconnected thinking with your collaborators and you start employing same empathy to digital collaborators as to offline collaborators.
*Massive Open Online Courses **Small Private Online Courses