Here is how Activator and its programs helped to transform this Masters course:
The importance of play
Kaospilot strongly emphasises the role of play in learning. By creating safe spaces, students were able to engage in role play and explore different ways of thinking.
Dhavani relished in the use of serious play in their course.
“We had to make our Lego models spontaneously, which showed how everybody has their individual ideas on livability in terms of urban planning,” said Dhavani.
“It was an amazing platform to meet guest speakers everyday and the networking through this course was on point. I did not want the course to end.”
Will was so inspired that he is in the process of creating a board game for his students.
Claire incorporated the IDOARRT framework into the Integrating Health and Planning course, after being introduced to it at the Activator X Kaospilot masterclass.
IDOARRT stands for intention, desired outcomes, agenda, roles and time. Claire leveraged the framework in the first hour of class to collectively establish expectations early.
To make the course as interactive as possible, Claire and Will put students into groups early on to foster group dynamics.
"This format was really important because we also had five students from industry, one in each group,” said Will. “it helped us to focus on developing a group dynamic while harnessing the diverse perspectives.”
They also removed tutorials and gave more breaks so that students have more time to reflect on their learning and to work on their own.
Claire also learnt from Kaospilot to introduce a closing ceremony to solidify resolve and integrate their learnings with their ambitions.
"We asked people to stand up and share about what they left behind and what they have developed. For example: ‘I leave behind my negativity and biases and will do my best to build livable cities’. Students really took this onboard and felt empowered afterwards,” said Claire.
Soft skills from Activator workshops
Two workshops facilitated by Leona Norris from Activator were run in the five days. The idea was to build soft skills in students and make them industry ready.
“Activator offers a range of experiential workshops that build 21CC skills, such as adaptability, comfort with risk, opportunity recognition, self-reliance, communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving,” said Leona. “These workshops allow for exploration and reflection of skills through experiences that are purposeful, challenging and fun. ”
One of them was a workshop on pitching as presentation.
“Learning how to pitch was one of the best segments of the course as it was so handy to develop this skill professionally and for our academics too,” said Dhvani.
This was a huge priority for Claire, who understands how important communication skills are in the urban planning industry.
“What I observed in the industry was that you need to be a good communicator in order to be successful,” said Claire. “ As an urban planner, your job is to communicate with people across different industries – engineers, architects, politicians, etc. So you have to develop these soft skills of being able to connect with people of different backgrounds and languages. I want my students to have that.”
“I wasn’t sure how to train people to gain that confidence to be a good speaker. That's why I approached Activator for to do that for me.”
Engaging a new generation of students
The Integrating Health and Planning course was designed as a form of research translation for the Healthy Livable Cities group. Although there are plenty of skills and knowledge that can be transferred to students, the skill of teaching may not always come naturally to academics.
“I’m a researcher, so 100 per cent of my time is focused research. I'm not employed as a lecturer, but there is an assumption that [researchers] are natural lecturers,” admitted Claire. “We’ve all been in classrooms with terrible lecturers and I would hate to be that person.”
“Students today have a smaller attention span, so there's all sorts of things to take into account. How do you deal with technology in the classroom, diverse backgrounds, etc.”
By engaging in Activator training, Claire and Will picked up skills in educating a new generation of students.
“Activator has the skills and knowledge and tools to better equip lecturers to deliver engaging content,” said Will.
Story by Jing Lee