01/10/2016 10:46

Learning Express by Singapore Polytechnic, donated by Temasek Foundation, is a multi-national, multi-cultural and multi-disciplinary program that addresses local complex problems in complex settings rather than simplified problems in isolation. It involves student in activities that address local needs while developing their academic skills and commitment to the community.

The main objectives of Learning Express are to apply domain skills, use Design Thinking Methodology to co-create innovative solutions that strives to meet the needs of local community and to provide an immersive experience for the students as the team work together closely with their peers in the local community hence nurturing a sense of purpose and social contributions to society.

From 18th September to 01st October, Singapore Polytechnic together with The University of Danang – University of Science and Technology (UD-UST) held the Learning Express Program for the students in both schools.

In order to mark the beginning of this program, the Opening Ceremony was held at the CDIO Conference Room (C303) with the presence of many distinguished guests from UD-UST and SP. During the Opening Ceremony, both schools showed some well-prepared musical performances, delivered their speech and exchanged tokens.

Exchange gifts from both schools

During the Learning Express Program, the students from both schools have a chance to apply Design Thinking Methodology, whose 4 phases are “Sense and sensibility” – “Empathy” – “Ideation” – “Prototype”,  into solving a given issue.

The first 2 steps of Design Thinking were carried out at Tuy Loan Fresh vegetables village and Rice paper cake village in Hoa Vang district, Da Nang, where the students and facilitators also experienced the home stay trip so that they can understand the difficulties of the people there.

At the villages, the students had the opportunities to interview the farmers, workers and villagers. As a result, they had a better understanding about the situation in order to prepare for the next steps. The students were also able to put themselves in the farmers’ shoes. They lived as a farmer, worked as a farmer so that they could empathized with the people. Hence, they would put all efforts into this program.

After the 4-day home stay trip, the students from SP and UD-UST continued Learning Express by doing the remaining phases, which are “Ideation” and “Prototype”. During the “Ideation” phase, each person had to brainstorm to generate ideas for the issue that their team had raised in the previous stages. And from those ideas, the whole team would choose some ideas based on 3 criteria, which are Feasible, Desirable and Sustainable, to create a “concept”.

The purpose of this “Ideation” step is to generate as many ideas as possible, no matter how silly or ridiculous the ideas are. According to the students, this is the most favorable step of Design Thinking Methodology since they can freely think and express their ideas with others.

In the final stage, “Prototype”, the students had to make a model to illustrate their developed “concept”. What interesting is the model does not need to be exactly the same with its design. Therefore, the students chose many ways to build their own models. After that, they had to come back to the villages to show and explain the “concept”, the models to the farmers and gather their feedbacks.

Creating the models and showing them to the farmers

Lastly is the Gallery walk, where the teams showed all of their works in the previous phases including the models that had been upgraded based on the comments they collected from the villagers. During the Gallery walk, visitors could ask questions and the teams must consider those questions carefully because these questions can somehow help improve the team’s product.

At the end of the Learning Express Program, the Closing Ceremony was held at the CDIO Conference Room. In the Closing Ceremony, the facilitators and students had chances to share their achievement during the last 2 weeks as well as their feelings with one another.

The Learning Express Program is over with much success. Firstly, it created the first foundation for the long-term international connection between Singapore Polytechnic and University of Science and Technology, The University of Danang. Secondly, it helped the farmers in Tuy Loan Fresh vegetables village and Rice paper cake village in Hoa Vang district, Da Nang. Last but not least, it created valuable friendships between students and facilitators from both schools.