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Recap CMD Advisory Board #1

By 8 November 2021 No Comments

Just before the start of the summer of 2021, we had a first online meeting of the new CMD Advisory Board. We were very happy to receive the commitment of all of you to join our new board in this new academic year. Our initial plan is to organize three meetings in this academic year. This post is a recap of the first official meeting, held at CMD on Thursday 28 October 2021.

Introduction and feedback

Last week, we presented our CMD program and main questions/dilemma’s we see. In the second meeting (Q1 of 2022) we would like you to meet with our CMD Expertise Groups and specify the outcomes of the first meeting into SMART goals. In the final meeting we want to present the status of these SMART goals to you.

In the first meeting (Thursday 28 October) we presented our CMD design vision and current curriculum. Also, we shared some recent data on how students perceive our program now. The slides of this presentation (PDF) are attached here. An English version on our vision on design is linked here. After diner, we discussed our main questions/dilemma’s.

Below, you will find a recap of these questions, as well as the reactions of the board members.

CMD Advisory Board (we’re hiring :)

Our questions on our graduation projects:

“What demands should we set (or do the organizations of our board members set) for a prototype (e.g., from a graduating student). Does this prototype always have to be achievable? Should a topic or final product of a graduation project always be realistic, or should we also encourage students to come up with ‘out-of-the-box’ and conceptual design challenges and/or prototypes?”

Reactions of the board:

It is important for graduated CMD students that they can validate the key question / goal in designing their prototype: is the aim to test (what is there to test?), is the prototype a ‘communication tool’ in the design process, is it an idea for further discussion?

Also, different problems and/or challenges require different types of prototypes. Designers must be aware of the initial question / design challenge and main goal of a graduation project to come up with a suitable prototype. This implies the need of the right mindset for students and that they are not only focused on the final product itself: digital products are always part of a larger ‘design service / system’. They are touch points in a larger (digital) ecosystem. Furthermore, the time limit in which this prototype can be realised is also an important issue in the industry.

Our question on internationalisation:

“What international competencies (knowledge, skills and attitudes) should our graduates have in order to properly fit into the organisations of the board members?”

Reactions of the board:

As for most of the board members, the main language of communication on the work floor is English. For graduating CMD students that enter the industry, English communication skills are an essential part of their skill set as a designer. To have knowledge and awareness of other (design) cultures and how to insert these differences in the designs of digital products (e.g., length of text in buttons or the (mis)use of complicated grammar) is something that board members value. Students should be made aware that they are not only designing digital products, but – perhaps even more important – that they are designing communication tools.

The City of Amsterdam has a lot of international collaborations with other cities. The lack of international knowledge and skills of other languages is sometimes opposing new and potential collaborations for the City of Amsterdam. Graduated CMD students that possess these international communication skills – and that are inter-culturally sensitive – are therefore more than welcome. However, the CMD curriculum should not forget that good Dutch communication skills remain (even more) important.

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Our question on the three main themes of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences: Digitalisation, Sustainability and Diversity & Inclusion:

“How can or should we (CMD) embrace these themes in our curriculum?”

Reactions of the board:

Since the scope of these themes is so extensive, some board members advised us to start a discussion with our students by asking them this same question. What are their ideas on these themes and how can they advise CMD? Perhaps we could discuss questions on the effect a digital product has on a more sustainable world. Does this product really contribute to this, or (for example) does that user friendly mobile web shop online stimulates the production of more plastic and more air pollution of all delivery trucks? Should we perhaps therefore move away from the ‘user centered design’ approach on to a more ‘planet centered design’ approach?

The board members acknowledged the importance of the themes. They agreed that an educational institution – such as CMD – would be the ideal organization to take the lead in the discussion and implementation of these themes in our industry. The board also pointed out that CMD could use these main university themes in looking for new external partners for collaboration. How does this potential new partner value these main themes? Are they willing to work on projects with CMD students that focus on these themes? An added value in working with external partners on these themes, is that CMD students learn to discover where they stand for as a designer.

Our question on the general preparation of students for the industry:

“How can we as a bachelor program prepare our students even better for a career in the industry? Do you – as board members – experience any gaps in this preparation?”

Reactions of the board:

All board members agreed on offering workshops on professional skills for our CMD students by the organisations of the board members themselves. This both helps us as a design education in training the new ‘draft’ of digital designers, as well as the organisations of the board: by training CMD students in specific competencies (for a specific board members’ organisation) we augment the options for these students to fit in that organisation soon.

Another important skill that would help new designers in the industry, is the ability to ‘sell’ their idea and/or product to both their own colleagues as well as the organisations’ clients. In this process, the skill of asking the right questions and the awareness of commercial aspects in the project or product is valued by the board members. And, last but not least, the board encourages students to also build their confidence in breaking free from all design methodologies and to use their own intuition and creativity.

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