The Corporation Game is to go online

The Game is to go online. And needs volunteers from the game players for this to happen. If you would like to be involved say so here.


The Corporation Game: Learning and Teaching Evaluation

Industrial Design, Semester 2, 2005

The Corporation Game (CG) was a studio conducted in Semester 2 for first year Industrial Design students. The studio was different to usual studios in the program in that its learning objectives were not solely focused on developing technical skills and determining a design solution to a problem or design brief. The course was modelled like a professional training schedule with a structured set of goals and used specific teaching techniques to encourage the development of higher level thinking and conceptual skills of the students studying the course.

At the end of the semester, twenty-two students claimed the CG had changed their lives. This report presents the findings of a study by the DSC Academic Services Group which investigated why students made this claim about their learning experiences in the course.

What we did

What we ascertained

What did the students say?

What did the teacher say?

What works, what could be improved?




Ballantyne, R., J. D. Bain & J. Packer (1999). ‘Researching university teaching in Australia: themes and issues in academics’ reflections’, Studies in Higher Education (24)2, pp 237-257.

Bolton, G. (2001). Reflective practice: writing and professional development. London: Paul Chapman, Sage.

Hager, P. (2005). ‘Philosophical accounts of learning’, Educational Philosophy and Theory, 37(5), pp649-666.

Hativa, N., R. Barak & E. Simhi (2001). ‘Exemplary university teachers: knowledge and beliefs regarding effective teaching dimensions and strategies’. Journal of Higher Education (72)6, p699-725.

Miley, W. M. & S. Gonsalves (2005). ‘What you don’t know can hurt you: students’ perceptions of professors’ annoying teaching habits’. College Student Journal’ (37)3, pp 447-455.

Ramsden, P. (1994) Using Research on Student Learning to Enhance Educational Quality. (Accessed 7th March, 2006) Reproduced with permission from Gibbs, G. (ed.) Improving Student Learning – Theory and Practice. Oxford: Oxford Centre for Staff Development (1994).


What we did

The Academic Services Group provides support to the portfolio’s academic and teaching staff in a variety of ways to improve learning and teaching practice in the classroom as well as extend the scholarship of teaching. In this instance, two members of the group were invited, as a neutral party, to investigate the learning experience of students in a design studio. We approached the study with the key objective of determining what the students believed had occurred in their learning experience of the course that had brought them to thinking their lives were changed. We contextualised the information we acquired from the students and teacher with our knowledge and expertise in the scholarship of teaching and the nature of good learning. This analysis then brought us to a scholarly understanding of what the students said they had experienced.

Six students were invited to participate in a focus group. They were provided in advance with an outline of the issues that would be discussed. The preparatory questions were:
• what happened that was different to other studios you may have studied in,
• what you learnt (particularly now that you’ve had some time to reflect since you completed the studio),
• what you highly valued from the experience, and
• any suggestions for improvement?

Four students attended the focus group which was two hours in length. One student who was unable to attend provided some thoughtful responses around the issues in an email. The focus group discussions were semi-structured but generally followed the issues outlined above.

The teacher was informally interviewed twice, for one hour at a time. Each interview was structured around his narrative of his past and present experiences as a teacher and was interwoven with the influences and the beliefs he recognised underpinned his approach. We often asked him questions to clarify terminology, particularly as his language was grounded in ‘design’ speak, and ours in ‘teaching and learning’, to ensure we had the same understanding of meaning throughout the dialogue of the interview.


What worked, what could be improved?

From our investigation of the students’ thoughts and the teacher’s reflections about the CG, we believe it is extremely essential that the approaches to learning introduced to the first year students in this course are maintained throughout the program to ensure their personal and disciplinary growth and development can be encouraged and cultivated as they progress through their degree. If these approaches to learning are not explicit in other courses, then it is important that at least some program support and concern is available to students to ensure they can continue their own learning journeys in whatever ways are appropriate to them.

We also recommend that in future renditions of the course that in order to help ensure all students (or as close to this as possible) are engaged and committed to the new approach of learning for the duration of the course that the objectives and intent for learning in this way are clear from the outset of the course. This could be further assisted by defining how the approach differs to previous teaching methods that students may have experienced and by explicitly referring to the awkwardness and discomfort to learners that may result. These conditions could be incorporated into the ‘fine print’ of the learning contract.

We also recommend that some refinement in how the blogs are used as a learning tool is required. They were, by his own admission, time consuming for the teacher to manage. Given that they have such exciting potential as tools for learning, a more productive and efficient application of blogs may be required to ensure the repeated teaching of the course is sustainable.

To further assure the quality of his teaching, the teacher may also choose to adopt an explicit reflective practice methodology in his approach to his teaching to further ensure, for his own integrity and satisfaction that his approach to teaching continues to remain strongly aligned with his personal beliefs and values. This approach can also provide an internal dialogue for confidently examining and questioning new strategies and approaches, as well as creating opportunities for articulating and sharing good practice with colleagues (Bolton, 2001).



The students believed that their lives had changed and there is strong evidence from the data collected in this study to support and understand this declaration. The key reasons for the students to have made the claim appear to rest in the fact that the CG was educationally designed to encourage learning that did not focus on acquiring content and skills, but on deep learning where students were encouraged to think creatively and to explore ideas that were challenging and brought about some shift in personal values and beliefs.

We congratulate the teacher for his careful crafting of the course as a deep learning experience and challenge for discovery for his students.

We congratulate the students who accepted the challenge to learn deeply and discover ideas and capabilities for themselves and as a result emerge from the experience with highly valued and personally meaningful gains.


What we ascertained

How does this align with the literature?
It was evident from the discussion with the students and the interviews with the teacher that a number of events and situations occurred in the course which enabled highly positive learning outcomes of a deep nature for the students. This conclusion is particularly strengthened when considering the views of Marton et al (1997) and Hager (2005) who pose that the highest level of good learning involves learners undergoing some change or development as a person and where learning is not just the development of “propositional understanding, but [also] cognitive, conative and affective capabilities” (Hager, 2005, p662). As well, Biggs (1999), in his analysis of deep learning includes the development of higher order thinking abilities such as analytical and conceptual capacities as desirable outcomes of good learning experiences.

In CG, the students demonstrated awareness of a number of significant personal changes and developments that they called ‘life changing’ and considered were a result of their experiences in the course. The changes they mentioned were cognitive and affective as well as having significant influence in reshaping values they held personally. Specifically, the changes they mentioned included their enhanced abilities to think creatively and confidently express ideas as well as recognising that they related with more respect and had more value for other students and their views. They also understood that they were developing a more sophisticated vocabulary for expressing their thoughts which increased their feelings of confidence.

Significantly, the students did not talk about knowing more, but talked about being challenged to consider issues from new perspectives. Ballanytne et al (1999) define this particular ability to know differently as a highly desirable learning outcome. Given that the objectives of the course were not to acquire content and skills, but to explore ideas and develop intellectual processes for thinking creatively, discovering and solving problems, these declarations of their learning outcomes are highly meaningful.

When talking about their experience of the CG, the students revealed many qualities of good teaching that they had experienced which resonate with the literature of good teaching. From their study, Miley & Gonsalves (2003) identify that students consider equality, respect, friendliness, accessibility and empathy to be highly desirable qualities of good teaching, each of which was mentioned by the students in CG. The students also alluded that their teacher was organised and enthusiastic, which are qualities considered by Miley & Gonsalves (2003) in their study to be positive indicators of good teaching.

In alignment with the national Course Experience Questionnaire indicators for good teaching, which is mentioned in this study because this survey is used to measure good teaching in the university, the teacher revealed that he paid particular attention to issues of ensuring appropriate workload, providing feedback and designing appropriate assessment for students. Also, in resonance with Ramsden’s (1994) qualities of good teaching, it was apparent the teacher was providing students with intellectual challenges, making them responsible for their learning, showing them respect and concern, understanding what students had learnt and what they needed learn, giving them feedback, monitoring the effects of his teaching and engaging in teaching as a conversation where students could learn and develop. The students’ positive comments about their experience of the learning contract model also suggest good learning outcomes that resulted from a direct intersection with a number of qualities of good teaching that specifically encouraged students to engage in independent learning and intellectual challenge as well as realise there was relevance and respect of their work.

In his narrative, the teacher also revealed qualities of good teaching that strongly resonated with the themes from narratives and insights of exemplary teachers from a study conducted by Ballantyne et al, (1999). These key themes included a love or enthusiasm for one’s discipline, valuing students and their perspectives and teaching to make learning possible (Ballantyne et al, 1999). In their discussion, the students particularly reinforced that they had experienced the qualities of feeling valued and respected and being in situations where they were able to learn.

The teacher designed the studio around the theme of a game and this in itself generated much fun and excitement for participants. The theme kept students intrigued and interested. They weren’t just being entertained in lectures but they were actively engaged in their own learning in the workshops and in the peripheral learning they undertook during the week. They recognised that the issues they were exploring in the CG were relevant and ones to which they could make connections to their own lives and experiences. Relevance and fun are also key qualities for good learning (Ballantyne et al, 1999; Marton et al, 1997).


What did the teacher say?

At the outset, the teacher stated that there was no content in his course. In clarifying what he meant by this almost emphatic statement, we determined that there was curriculum (as we recognised it) but it was not prescriptive or rigidly fixed as is typically the situation with many industrial design courses which are designed for students to develop specific technical skills. From our understanding, ‘content’ existed in the CG in that there was a general framework of purpose and intent in this course, demonstrated by the overall objectives set by the teacher, but students had a wide range of choice about what they explored and how they explored and learnt., which, in the discipline of design education is not widely recognised as ‘content’.

Other key issues to emerge from the interviews with the teacher concerned his beliefs underpinning his teaching, his general strategies for teaching and his experience of teaching the CG. These issues are explored below.

Beliefs underpinning teaching
In his narrative of his teaching experiences, the teacher revealed beliefs framed on the notion of ‘shifting the learner’ where students are supported to develop to their full capacities. He related that for him the essence of learning is about learning to think in creative ways in order to solve problems. Importantly, learning, for him, is not based on acquiring content, but on developing process or intellectual capacity. Related to this belief is his approach that in addition to setting up deliberate opportunities for active learning, one aspect of learning is about ‘just being in a space’ and allowing students to be immersed or surrounded by the unfamiliar and strange sensations of what they are learning in order to gradually adjust and settle into layers of familiarity.

In revealing his beliefs he also described teaching as a process to facilitate learning that encourages students to discover and think about new ideas for themselves. He also implied that teaching involves encouraging students to move into uncomfortable spaces and to fully experience the awkwardness of being trained or built up in their learning, like athletes. This meant that for him, teaching is always an act of faith where he can only hope that students will take the challenge to be stimulated to learn.

In his personal teaching objectives for developing the learner, the teacher also knew that in order to be able to shift or ‘transport the learner’ he first needs to effectively reach them and this requires gaining their trust. He therefore grounds his teaching with core principles of building respect and maintaining the personal dignity of everyone involved.

He also expressed a commitment to the effectiveness of community activism and the lived experience of the advocacy, application and sharing of learning within a wider network. He expressed a strong commitment to Robert Chambers’ principles of respect building in social interactions and community engagement.

Strategies for teaching
The teacher talked about a range of strategies that he employed in his approach to teaching and learning.

He has learnt from his twenty years of teaching the importance of measuring student energy to understand their engagement with the courses he teaches. He is aware for instance, that in the early stages, he needs to engage and motivate his students. If he feels their engagement is cool, he is willing to use a ‘stock trick’ in order to get their attention and reveal to students that he believes he has screwed up and failed as a teacher and that as a community they need to renegotiate their approach to learning in the course.

He also understands that intense learning can create an environment of uncertainty and this in turn can generate nervous energy, lots of questions and arguments and requires constant affirmation and feedback to students to maintain their trust and sense of safety. He recognises that good learning is accompanied by high energy levels and he encourages students to generate lots of exuberance and excitement in their own connections with him and each other.

He spends a great deal of time planning and preparing lectures for his students with their interests and capabilities totally in mind. He sets high standards by aiming to produce unforgettable and provocative educational events that will unsettle his students to think differently and be shifted as learners. He prepares countless handouts and tries to reach students through a variety of mediums (eg film) to demonstrate concepts of design. He tries at all times to work with themes or points of reference that are relevant or of interest to students. He uses narrative and story to ‘open their minds’. He considers lectures and resources as tools to inspire the students’ own learning and investigations of intellectual discovery.
He is conscious of being respectful at all times with his students and introducing them to new concepts without being dismissive or patronising in order to be inclusive and earn their trust. To assist them in developing personal intellectual stamina, he adopts an approach of immersion where students are surrounded by the vocabulary and discourse of an issue and encouraged to just ‘be in the space’. He also views the semester as an opportunity to ‘slow things down and amplify the small’ and thus creates opportunities for students to engage in considered investigation and detailed examination of issues and processes.

Experience of teaching the CG
The teacher admitted he found the experience of teaching the CG personally consuming in the amount of preparation required and the commitment he made to being attentive to his students. This commitment meant he wrote notes about every student, reading and making comments about their blogs which the students used as reflective tools to support their learning. He also ensured that to continue building trust with the students that he was honest with them and answered all their questions about himself.

He reached agreement with the students that the lecture was his time with them and that they then had the freedom to conduct the weekly workshops. In his lectures he shared practical approaches and tools for thinking with his students as well as preparing what he hoped would be memorable events with extensive handouts and resources to inspire their learning. He also maintained his own blog which became another highly developed intellectual tool of communication with students in the course.

He established processes of peer review so students could comment on each other’s contribution in the course with an emphasis on personal development and risk taking behaviours without focusing on judgment and criticism. He also gave them individual feedback about their progress, being careful to not give too much and hence encourage potential cue-seeking behaviours.

He introduced the learning contract to remove the stresses associated with trying to achieve high marks. Each student agreed upon and their individual grade at the beginning of the semester and was then able to manage their own learning and life commitments accordingly. If students chose to aim for a Pass, they could expect to achieve ‘rite of passage’ outcomes without too much sacrifice, whereas if students chose an HD goal, they could expect to be learning and developing intensely but with little room for much else in their lives.

The teacher designed the course around the theme of a game and exploring ideas. Students were given ‘conditions’ to maintain each week which included a set dress code. Games and films were the key resources for inspiring learning. He provided guidelines for discussion groups based on principles of respect, value and dignity. His blog for the course was designed like a theatre with actors and personas taking roles to express various issues and reveal implicit dynamics within the course.

He modelled ways for the students to express themselves, helping them to discuss intellectual and creative ideas. He encouraged them to use their blogs as tools for self-talk and engaging in reflective processes.

The teacher was aware that not all students were passionate in the ways they embraced the opportunities to learn in the studio. He noted that those who chose not to engage so intensely or exuberantly in the discussions were often alienated or ostracized. Some students did not participate with blogs and on the basis of respecting difference he left them alone until about two thirds through the course and then attempted to draw them in by talking individually and gaining commitment to use the blogs.

He agreed that at the end of the course, he certainly did see many students transformed in their abilities to think and discuss ideas. These changes, even at mid-semester, were becoming obvious where he observed changes in the students’ abilities, evidenced by the depth of discussion they were able to have with staff at that time.


What did the students say?

The key issues to emerge from the discussion with the students about their experiences of the CG were about their feelings of learning, their descriptions of the learning environment and their realisations of what they had learnt. These issues are elaborated upon below.

Feelings of learning
The students agreed that throughout the studio they felt valued and respected by their teacher. This support gave them the courage to try new unfamiliar activities and discover new things about themselves which ultimately led to their feelings of increased self-confidence. They also described the sensation of true learning as involving a sense of feeling uncomfortable and disoriented, but this was considered to be a positive aspect of learning because it would inevitably pass into a state of feeling energised and confident. Generally, they were highly satisfied and felt personally empowered by what they had achieved in the studio.

Learning environment
The students described the introductory experiences to the studio as disorienting and disarming. For the first few weeks they felt uncomfortable and anxious, as well as angry and annoyed that they were not receiving any clear guidance or direction. They spoke at length about one lecture, that is, the Paper Lantern lecture. This event appeared to serve as a catalyst within their experience of the CG because this particular lecture was where they were challenged about the ways they thought and approached learning and were subsequently invited to make a deliberate choice about how they would learn. Some took the challenge and ‘jumped in the pool’ to join their teacher ‘splashing about’, others ‘stayed on the edge’.

The students said they trusted their teacher, but only after an initial struggle to let go of their old patterns and familiar ways of learning. They indicated that their trust in him was reinforced by their teacher demonstrating he was being honest and ‘real’ with them which they recognised through him sharing his own frustrations in teaching the course. As a result, they started to feel safe in the studio and developed strong personal senses of belonging and being part of something unique.

The students described at length their use of personal blogs for reflecting on their learning. The adoption of blogs by students in the course was initially slow, but as the studio progressed, the tools gained momentum in their use and were considered by the students to be most useful for expressing in more thoughtful and considered ways the emotional issues they encountered in their learning in the CG. The students also agreed that when they realised that their teacher was making the time to read their individual blogs it increased their own sense of self-worth and commitment to engage with the tool for their own learning as well as their respect and trust of him as their teacher.

Each student negotiated a learning contract with their teacher and they agreed that this approach enabled them to be more comfortable, feel safe and unstressed in engaging with the objectives of the CG. The students concurred that the learning contract meant that their individual goals for ‘achieving’ were their own and were not solely driven by striving for good marks and having to be at university. They felt that the contract also implied acknowledgement by their teacher that the rest of their lives mattered and that their personal experiences were an important influence in their individual learning in the CG.

Realisations of learning
The students related a number of significant realisations about their learning. They were explicit in stating that learning was about exploring ideas and not just developing technical skills as their previous experiences in the program had purported. The emphasis in their learning had shifted away from developing skills (product) to learning how to think (process) as well as discovering self and ideas. They were confident that they were each developing a common language for expressing and exploring ideas which also reinforced by a strong personal sense of belonging to a community of their own.

They agreed that despite sometimes feeling anxious, angry and annoyed that these feelings were a positive aspect of their learning experience. They realised that these uncomfortable times ultimately preceded more energised and exciting states of new realisations and connections. They recognised that these patterns for experiencing learning were desirable and conditions they would seek and recognise as positive in the future.

They agreed that through the CG they had learnt to learn from each other, and not only depend on their teacher for directing their learning. His lectures and stories were inspiration or springboard for learning activities. They realised that in learning, there is no single right way or answer. They had also made connections with what they were learning in the CG with their personal lives and interests outside of university which reinforced further that they were exploring and learning for themselves.

The students implied that because of the CG they experienced new feelings of respect and value for others. They felt that they had improved their abilities to listen, to discuss ideas with others and to work in teams. They also had more confidence to question and explore ideas without becoming as personally and emotionally involved in discussions.

The students also revealed realisations that it was likely that what they had learnt in CG would become more obvious to them over time. They stated that even though some aspects of their experience didn’t make total sense now, they believed that the true value of what they had learnt would be more apparent in the future.


Recycling Incubator

Recycling Incubator

Hi all,

“what the?” – what happened with todays class? – i had it down for 1-5 24 march 06 – i now know liam is moving house, soumitri is on a tram and no-one else seems to be here? – hmmm

let me know if i missed something – otherwise the offer to meet up stands – anyone who wants to get cracking feel free to give me a call on 0416 200 722.

btw – David and Liv, I would like to hook up friday some time if that suits..perhaps just send a text with a time..


Recycling Incubator

Recycling Incubator

heya gang – we had quite a fruitful little meeting on thursday of last week – and it might be that the coffee grounds and MX thing could be related point of departure for a variety of business ventures – will chat more about the detail at thursdays class – when i think we should be able to divide into sub-groups and get cracking.

cant wait to see you all – and especially to hear about anybody elses fabbo schemes..

if we dont get a chance to thrash our thoughts out in class perhaps some of us who can, can meet on friday for a sess..


Recycling Incubator

Recycling Incubator

heaps of ideas involving office furniture

Australia Post to Deliver & Collect

This is very much the beginning of an idea…
Australia post is an established nation wide delivery system. As mail trucks (commercial sector) make each delivery, space in the truck becomes free. Could this space be used as a nation wide recycling collection system?

Recycled Roofing

In class there was talk of companies that recycle timber floorboards from domestic and commercial demotion projects. Could this model be applied to roofing materials? Existing models exist overseas although there are none (that I could find) within Australia?

This system would advertise/sell tiles, slate etc before the demolition and be transported straight from the old site to the new site. The new site could vary depending on the type of material.

– Standard tiles/slate etc could be sold to new building projects and repaired and recoated on site.

– Antique tiles/slate, etc could be sold to antique dealers.

– Broken tiles/slate etc could be sold to artist supplies or reprocessed into another material.

Roofing materials are now being produced from recycled tires. This could be the beginning of a larger cascading product cycle.

RE: Direction

I think…
The woodfibre mix replacement for plastic has potential especially if the resulting material could be efficiently reprocessed. Could the reprocessing of woodfibre use less resources than the reprocessing of plastic?

Could this incorporate carpet somehow? There is an obvious need to recycle carpet.


hey, new post. make lots of posts. i was thinking of a project i did last year on biomimicry, which is creating things based on principles and methods that nature already uses. the most obviouis one is velcro but there are many better examples.

in a book called “natures operating instructions” they talked about making products from starch or similar materials, so that after a certain period, say several years, they would disintegrate in landfill. if we used a natural binding agent in a woodfibre mix to make a material with the moldability of a plastic, then the resulting product could either be recycled and made into new products or would compost in landfill at the end of it’s useful life. suitable products would be cases for electronic products, which naturally have a short lifespan, eg: mobile phones, desktop computer cases, speaker cabinets, gaming consoles, photocopiers, network servers etc.

this feature could become a selling point of the product. reducing ewaste is a pretty big thing. computers use a lot of parts that are similar, so designing a desktop computer case that was degradeable would not be hard, it would also not be hard to find someone to make complete pc’s using these boxes. large companies that purchase computers in bulk might be interested in buying these to promote their image.

what do people think?

-i think the markets there
-equipment should not be hard to find
-it should be easy to sell the idea

Todays Session

Ok so today we covered a number of options / ways of thinking about recycled material and how that can be linked into a business structure.
It is however, quite tempting to get fixated on the “material” and what can be done etc – this is a trap. Recycled material is as flexible as any virgin material, it simply gets collected in a different way – so don’t worry about what can and cant be done.
You all need to put forward your ideas for collections systems, potential markets, linkages with existing markets and industries and the collective vision of this recycling thing.
Design students: You need to start putting forward ideas
BBE students: Start running with these ideas and building them into a brand strategy.
By Saturday their has to be a direction for the BBE students to work from.
So put forward scenarios: eg – plastic costs increase dramatically in the next 5 years and product streams need alternatives.
Think about emerging “lifestyles” and potential marketting oppertunities.
Think about waste brokerage – as a response to shortages of virgin material.
Read through the waste wise (RWMG) and Sus Vic sites.
There are enourmous possibilities here but you need to be creative.
Good luck.

My second trip to India 06

I am off for another trip to India. This time I am doing NID, Ahmedabad, then Srishti School of Design, Bangalore. I am going to these schools hoping to build a fat pipeline between the design communities in Melbourne, Australia and India. In this will be many things I will hope to set up:

1. Student exchange
2. Staff exchange
3. Joint Projects: Waste Guru and Diabetes Guru
4. RMIT students going to NID/ Srishti as part of a residence program to work in the area of ‘design for development’.

And other such. I am hopeful of lots of success. At the very least I will meet some heart warming people.

Dear Vendy

Great to hear that you are embarkign on yet another adventure. Here are a few things that will help you along the way:

Try and write to me about:
(a) what have you done till now, and
(b) what you plan to do to finish.
(c) then on a separate try and explain why what you have done is good for the people of Aceh, and
(d) why what you have done is good for the professiona of Industrial Design.
I will read this and give you feedback on what you need to do.

This will help you think of your project as a Masters.

Do you have access to a computer? If Y start writing your report. See this for help.

Put all the documentation in end note if you have a computer. Or else use Cards and put stuff in it, and keep all photos in many marked folders, with date and place on each. All this stuff you can put into endnote when you get here.

Think about your end result.

You will make
(a) a report,
(b) and exhibition if you have lots of photos,
(c) many presentations ( the school and university is very interested in your project and would like to know more) and (
d) a small video film if you have stills/ video footage.

I will help you with all the stuff. Do not worry about the execution of the end result. Just collect all the raw data/pics/information and stories systematically.

And keep putting stuff into your journal