Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN20 Proceedings
Publication year: 2020
Pages: 5361-5368
ISBN: 978-84-09-17979-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2020.1413
Conference name: 12th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 6-7 July, 2020
Location: Online Conference
The application of innovative teaching methods is a growing trend in the academic field that affects all disciplines [1, 2]. In particular, finding new ways of engaging students to stimulate active participation even in the planning phase of the content development program, is a pivotal theme also and especially concerning design disciplines. Indeed, virtuous practices of innovative teaching have already been present for a long time in design courses, which include active presentations by students, short workshops on specific topics and also flipped classroom activities. Finding new ways of engaging, even outside the academic curricula, to allow students to share the knowledge they have acquired with their peers, and to stimulate reflection that can lead to the subsequent development of their knowledge, is an even strenuous challenge. At the same time, both practical and theoretical skills, the subject of the design disciplines, make it possible to think about new and unorthodox formats.

Usually, Design Schools offer specific courses where students are required to put into practice what they have learnt from the theory, thus experiencing specific materials issues by working in team and developing design concepts throughout the design thinking creative process. Several educational experiences conducted by the Design School which follow the project-based learning approach are reported in literature, showing how this methodology enhances students motivation. However, what happens when the object of the project is the course itself?

The present contribution wants to explore how the application of social learning theory can foster the creation of new peer-to-peer educational formats [3], as well as being a valid method of engaging active participation when the courses are not curricular. Social learning theory may be defined as an approach that synthesizes principles of learning with those of cognitive psychology. It is a systematic effort to explain how the social and personal competencies that are often referred to as personality develop from the social context in which such learning occurs [4].

Starting from the experience already gained in the organization of previous crash courses project-based, the authors want to present a new type of peer-to-peer educational format, designed by a university Fab Lab. This format, called "Talents Thursday", was created to promote weekly dialogue sessions open to all the students of the university in question, coordinated by an ever-changing pair of thesis students - called Talents in Residence - who develop their thesis project within the Fab Lab.

Through the critical analysis of this experience, this contribution aims to try to bring out the strengths and weaknesses of the experimented model, from the point of view of method, communication/dissemination, language used and facilitation techniques and tools created ad hoc by the students who organized the talks.

[1] Conole, G. (2013). Designing for Learning in an Open World. New York: Springer.
[2] Freeman, S., Eddy, S., McDonough, M., Smith, M., Okoroafor, N., Jordt, H., Wenderoth, M. (June 2014). Active Learning Boosts Performance in STEM Courses. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111 (23) 8410-8415.
[3] Mazur, E. (1997). Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual Series in Educational Innovation. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
[4] Bandura, A. (1977). Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.
P2p learning, innovative teaching, social learning, design courses.