Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 2157-2167
ISBN: 978-84-608-5617-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2016.1457
Conference name: 10th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 7-9 March, 2016
Location: Valencia, Spain
More and more often we assist to a shift from a knowledge-exchange model, from teacher to students, to a more peer educational model, where a real specific problem is set as goal of the learning process. The use of virtual environments allow all the actors, either students or teachers or partners to be involved in the generation of common knowledge in a collaborative arena where new skills and new methodologies arise for the use of all peers in order to increase awareness and defining solutions that really matter for the problem. From open resources to entirely open learning models, e.g. MOOC and open universities, today are becoming paradigms to create social and environmental innovation.

Peer and Open Education is spreading as effective way for students to overcome not only problems with obtaining accurate information, at the same time developing skills on discerning how to judge the accuracy of the information they receive in the Internet era, but also to make the educational, and consequently the learning, process become self-motivated from the fact of being a chance to impact on real complex problems of life.

This paper describes the specific case of the “Co.Meta” Lab, a didactical model born from the collaboration between the Design School of the Politecnico di Milano and a Charity Foundation - Fondazione Trentina per l'Autismo.

A complex socially relevant problem-goal, improving the quality of life for people with Autism, was introduced as the core of the learning process. The initiative was called Co.Meta - by merging the concepts of “Cooperation” and “Metadesign” and was the opportunity to experiment a design teaching approach that brought self-motivation from students in learning tools and methodologies. Design operated widely into daily issues for autistic people bridging the gap between the consciousness about design responsibility and new perspectives for the future young design professionals.

Since 2012, the course focusses on the generation of product-system projects. Students have designed several concepts for brand new products from games to therapy supplies to disability devices. The recipients are patients, relatives and care givers, all gravitating around Autism, an unsolved and little-studied pathology implying huge complexity and a deep social impact.

The designing process is supported by an online blog, that serves as instrument for knowledge management and as communication and networking tool. Autism is a multi-faceted and complex issue that requires access to wide and specific information, a kind of research that normally would not be possible time-wise. From networking the research we allowed the coopetition among teams happen and this led to the creation of shared knowledge among students and with the Foundation, in a fully open source perspective. Psychologists, therapists and educational trainers were also involved to give their support, either in the classroom or online, allowing students to better address the field of interest and giving proof of the multidisciplinary perspective of the design practice. It actually was also an opportunity of networking, many other initiatives started from the collaboration on the activities.

The peer and open education approach is today a new model that in this case has been applied to design teaching, creating new value both for the public institution and for the society, while generating and testing new tools for cooperative learning for the future young designers.
Peer, Open, Education, Autism, Blog, Design, Metadesign, Profit+NoProfit, Didactical model, Shared Knowledge, Lab, Politecnico di Milano, Coopetition.