Futuring Knowledge Institutions: 
HvA 2030

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The world we are working in has been undergoing significant digital transformation and with this transformation taking its shape, old patterns and solutions hardly fit anymore within today’s society. On the other hand, we humans and non-humans are forced to deal with numerous global uncertainties such as political disorders, climate crises, pandemics among others. Immediate attention should also be turned towards reskilling and upskilling people for jobs in the future since we are currently experiencing a massive global skill shortage. 

Educational knowledge institutions like the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences play a significant role in generating the next generation of resilient learners, and thus has to search quickly and effectively for new ways to shape good education and research. This requires inventiveness, enthusiasm, empathy, trial-and-error, co-creation, for cooperation between many parties across traditional borders and a huge effort from everyone to make these knowledge institutions future-proof. 

I, along with four other researchers from all over the world, met at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences to work together as part of the Digital Transformation Intensive Program in Digital Society School. In 20-weeks of working together, we were tackling the design challenge of using Speculative Design as a tool to envision the future of knowledge institutions in 2030 focusing particularly on the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. I came to the Digital Society School to complete the final semester of my Master’s programme. 

Design Challenge

On February 12, 2022 we were presented with the following design challenge to focus on for the next 20-weeks: 

How might we use (speculative) design as a vehicle to speculate about the potential or alternate futures of Amsterdam University of Applied (AUAS) Sciences as a Knowledge Institution to anticipate for the near future?

How might we envision the AUAS not only as a knowledge institution but also to fulfill the social task as the metropolitan university of applied sciences in 2030?

Project Timeline

18 FEB 2022

MAKER's SPRINT

7 apr 2022

SPRINT 2

SPRINT 1

10 mar 2022

Scrum Methodology

During the course of this project, we systematically followed the agile scrum methodology for our project management. In this methodological approach, we worked in sprints (intense work periods where we would complete multiple tasks together in order to make progress with the given project). We had five sprints through the 20-week period of high intensity work and in between these sprints, we had regular workshops which were useful for our professional and personal development with respect to the project.

 

Since we were working in five sprints, it was important to organize the tasks and so, we used Trello, the web-based list making application to categorize and finish up our tasks. As part of the scrum methodology, we held daily scrum meetings to discuss the agenda for the day and followed it by rigorous work towards completing tasks to move forward with the project. We also were assigned roles such as scrum master and tracker, and these roles were being exchanged within us in each sprint.

Speculative Design

 We were able to conduct field research studies at Mambalam horticulture, one of the busiest horticulture markets in the city of Chennai, India, albeit of being in the middle of coronavirus. The research methodologies we used for this study included semi-structured qualitative one-one interviews, field observation and literature review.

We visited the field site four times in all - the first time to check the feasibility of the study and then the next three times (two in the morning, one in the night) to conduct the research study. Each of the latter three visits included research interviews with the stakeholders and a 30-minute field observation.  We developed a questionnaire for the qualitative research interviews which broadly covered the focus of the market’s stakeholders towards waste management and their problems (if any) with respect to keeping the market a clean and hygienic environment. We also tried to understand through our research about how the waste gets disposed of, whether there are any costs incurred in the waste management process and if there is any scope for any digital innovation/intervention that the stakeholders would find useful.

The market had four groups of stakeholders - sellers, buyers, cleaners and the General Chennai Corporation (GCC which is the municipal corporation in the city of Chennai). In the two day visits, we were able to interview sellers but the buyers, being busy, didn’t want to be interviewed. We weren’t able to find anyone representing the GCC. The cleaners were interviewed during the night field visit. 

Among the literature review, a case study was done on a similar design intervention - an application called Trashman - which was a waste collection platform designed for the collection of any kinds of wastes such as paper, bottles, metals, kitchen wastes, etc. This platform was implemented in nine different zonal areas in and around the city of Chennai.

Research

 We were able to conduct field research studies at Mambalam horticulture, one of the busiest horticulture markets in the city of Chennai, India, albeit of being in the middle of coronavirus. The research methodologies we used for this study included semi-structured qualitative one-one interviews, field observation and literature review.

We visited the field site four times in all - the first time to check the feasibility of the study and then the next three times (two in the morning, one in the night) to conduct the research study. Each of the latter three visits included research interviews with the stakeholders and a 30-minute field observation.  We developed a questionnaire for the qualitative research interviews which broadly covered the focus of the market’s stakeholders towards waste management and their problems (if any) with respect to keeping the market a clean and hygienic environment. We also tried to understand through our research about how the waste gets disposed of, whether there are any costs incurred in the waste management process and if there is any scope for any digital innovation/intervention that the stakeholders would find useful.

The market had four groups of stakeholders - sellers, buyers, cleaners and the General Chennai Corporation (GCC which is the municipal corporation in the city of Chennai). In the two day visits, we were able to interview sellers but the buyers, being busy, didn’t want to be interviewed. We weren’t able to find anyone representing the GCC. The cleaners were interviewed during the night field visit. 

Among the literature review, a case study was done on a similar design intervention - an application called Trashman - which was a waste collection platform designed for the collection of any kinds of wastes such as paper, bottles, metals, kitchen wastes, etc. This platform was implemented in nine different zonal areas in and around the city of Chennai.

Value Card Game

From our research study findings, we developed a stakeholder analysis tp understand the relationship between the different individual stakeholders of the market, and also understand their problems, needs and requirements towards the waste management in the horticulture markets. The analysis of the four stakeholders group is shown in the map below.

Affinity Diagram

While we were conducting our project, we were also learning about some theoretical frameworks of systems thinking in complex human situations. We encountered Peter Checkland’s paper from 1985. In this paper, Achieving ‘Desirable and Feasible’ Change: An Application of Soft Systems Methodology, Checkland emphasizes the need of a well-defined methodological framework for future iterations of any rational design intervention (in human affairs) to be made more effective. 

He provides Soft Systems Methodology (S.S.M.) as one such framework and describes the methodology’s theme as taking purposeful action in problematical human situations. The model is used in problem situations to provide structure to debate about what changes could be desirable and feasible to the situation, soon after one arrives at some changes. Once these desirable and feasible changes are defined, then the new problem situation includes implementation of these changes, which in turn may also be tackled using S.S.M. (which Checkland describes as doubly systemic). In such a case, the learning cycle (a seven-stage process as shown in the figure below) of the system can begin again as a reiterating process.

Taken from Checkland (1985)

Personas and Scenarios

After studying Checkland’s paper, we could visibly connect our project’s problem situation as a situation which could be addressed using Soft Systems Methodology (S.S.M.) and so, we came up with a structured problem to the problematical situation and defined some of the relevant human activity systems (shown in the table below).

PROBLEM TO 'PROBLEMATICAL SITUATION'

POSSIBLE DEFINITIONS:

  • Waste and Waste management have low economic priority: Sellers.

  • Dynamic waste generation - Dynamic Segregation and Dynamic Disposal mechanisms : Cows and other animals can ingest wastes if not cleaned regularly. 

  • Municipality, Sellers and Cleaners as key stakeholders - they will be the users and drivers of any digital intervention. Further - municipality will be the framing authority  but the cleaners and sellers are the major users and actors.

  • Cleaning must be a dignified function resulting from and in, a clean and dignified environment for all.

However, from the rich picture and our observations, we understood that S.S.M. is not entirely applicable in our case - the reason for this being the requirement of a certain degree of cohesion and communication among the heterogeneous entities - the cleaners, the sellers and the municipality. 

Group 21.png

Alter-Learning Manifesto

We thought that a digital intervention is still desirable and feasible and that developing a digital platform could enable the system to be transparent and lucid - a one that will help regulate the working in the market and keep labour right protection and social discrimination to check. 

Hence, we designed the low-fidelity prototype of an application called “Suttam” (meaning clean in Tamil) as a digital solution which we believe could help the management of the cleaning process better and bridge the cohesion and communication between the key stakeholders to some degree. The prototype of the application is shown below:

SPLASH SCREEN

Evolving Future Principles Card Game

We thought that a digital intervention is still desirable and feasible and that developing a digital platform could enable the system to be transparent and lucid - a one that will help regulate the working in the market and keep labour right protection and social discrimination to check. 

Hence, we designed the low-fidelity prototype of an application called “Suttam” (meaning clean in Tamil) as a digital solution which we believe could help the management of the cleaning process better and bridge the cohesion and communication between the key stakeholders to some degree. The prototype of the application is shown below:

SPLASH SCREEN

HvA2030 Website

We thought that a digital intervention is still desirable and feasible and that developing a digital platform could enable the system to be transparent and lucid - a one that will help regulate the working in the market and keep labour right protection and social discrimination to check. 

Hence, we designed the low-fidelity prototype of an application called “Suttam” (meaning clean in Tamil) as a digital solution which we believe could help the management of the cleaning process better and bridge the cohesion and communication between the key stakeholders to some degree. The prototype of the application is shown below:

SPLASH SCREEN

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