How is it like to study at Malmö University? How are the courses organised? How many hours per week did I spend in school? What is the Interaction Design Master’s like? And did I pass my first course? Let’s explore a few of these questions with the student perspective on my first course of Interaction Design Master’s Programme at Malmö Univeristy.
Recently I have passed my first course here, at Malmö University: Introduction to multidisciplinary interaction design. It was part of my Interaction Design Master’s Progamme. The whole year is divided into 4 courses, 2 per semester, each worth 15 ECTS credits. The last course is thesis work, both for the students enrolled in one- and two-year degree’s. Both of the types of students are working and having lectures together in a class of 18 people.
photo: my classmates enjoying bowling
My “class” is nothing like what I expected it to be. First of all: there is only two half-Swedish people and a grand number of six Danes who are commuting from Copenhagen. The rest of the class is from all over the world: Bulgaria, Canada, Brazil, Italy, USA… It is a first time I have an opportunity of working on a project with people from outside of Europe. But that’s not the end of the diversity! To ensure multidisciplinary approach we come from a variety of different backgrounds: from Computer Science through Architecture to Graphic Design. What’s more, there is a lot of age differences between us – more than a dozen years between the youngest and the oldest. That means a lot of different experiences and perspectives to come together in one project. And our differences are bringing us all together – we get on well, hanging out together after classes, bowling, partying or winning pub quizes.
The structure of the course changes every year according to the feedback from last year’s students. What we have been through during our first course was quite a different experience than the one of previous year’s students. During the ten-weeks course we went through two projects, each lasting around 3 weeks, and a series of introductory lectures before each. As a rule of thumb, classes were happening 3 times a week with Tuesdays and Thursdays free from lectures to give us time for project work (although it is not the case with the second course ongoing right now).
Except of project based work done in a previously assigned 4-person groups, we had to attend lectures, workshop and individual tutorings. Most of the lectures required preparation in a form of readings (starting from introductory books to academic papers). I personally find the Malmö University Interaction Design Programme to have a very academic approach, with a lot of focus on academic readings. Workshops were a one-day classes given by a guest-lecturer connected to the overall theme of the course but consisting of smaller tasks that were not a part of a bigger project. However, they served not only as a great get-away but actually gave as insights to use in the group work. Additionally, over the course of these 10 weeks we had 3 individual meetings with a teacher during which we would discuss our expectations, opinions and plans. I found those to be extremely helpful both psychologically and technically.
photo: brainstorming during first project
So what have we done during the first project? The aim of the project was to design for shared sonic spaces. Each group had been assigned a specific location and a theme. My group was exploring the topic of “parasitic” in cafes and co-working spaces. We would follow a pretty strict design process (based on the double diamond model) and present progress every week. After observations conducted in a cafe, we developed many ideas, few of which we later presented in front of entire class. Due to the short timeframe and the introductory character of the course we were focusing on trying out different methods and coming up with ideas, not trying yet to design or build. In the end we came up with a concept of sound visualizing artifact meant for encouraging the reflection on dynamics of conversation and its contribution to the soundscape.
photo: prototyping at university’s workshop
During the second project we had much more freedom. We didn’t have much lectures. We were able to choose the design process by ourselves without restrictions on final product or timing. Also the theme was more open – this time my new group was focusing on applying force. All in all, the second project was meant to get us into prototyping – we spend a great deal of time in the workshop. My group decided to explore the possibility of applying force as an input for tangible interfaces. We built a prototype which was used to perform a simple function (like navigation of a dot on a screen) by applying force. At the end of the project our teachers invited other professors and second year’s students for a demo-hour, during which they could play with prototypes and ask questions about our project.
That is a summary of how my first course at Malmö University looked like. And oh, the most important – I passed! (As well of course as all the other students, but there are no specific grades). Feel free to ask any questions about studying in Sweden, at Malmö University or particularly about Interaction Design Master’s Programme. And stay tuned for part 2 – embodied interaction course!
featured image: Malmö Högskola Orkanen; Biblioteket. Emma Rugg