Classroom stimulates teams to innovate
Updated: 2012-11-28 09:42
By Xu Lin (China Daily)
In 2007, he started his own one-year program, modeled on Stanford's, which aims to coach students to make user-friendly products and services in multidisciplinary teams. It's the first of its kind in a German university.
He says the program has many clients all over the world and are now partnering with 10 out of the 20 largest companies in Germany, including firms in retail, logistics and pharmacy.
CUC's animation school got interested in the program in 2009 and sent teachers to be trained in Potsdam.
Shui Linlin, 31, was one of them.
"We used to think students should be professional in their major, but now multidisciplinary approaches are more and more important. It's just what Design Thinking can bring to us, to inspire creation through cooperation," says Shui, who studied at the workshop for several months in Germany.
"Everyone is having fun," says student Le. "It enables me to learn and play at the same time, and broaden my horizon as well. But it's not easy to balance all the thoughts in one team, as each individual has one's own character."
Weinberg says it's highly intensive because students learn not only specific fields but also how to behave in a team, how to listen to other people and behave under time pressure.
"Chinese culture is a form of collaboration, but somebody gives an order to the group. What we're doing is more self-organized collectivism," he says, adding that this allows freedom for developing the team's strength.
"I don't see too many differences between Chinese and Europeans in the course, because we are all curious people by nature," he observes.
"It's inspiring to listen to very basic needs of other people, and empathy is very important. The hardest part is to make it more socially collaborative rather than competitive," he says.
According to Shui, the course is very different from ordinary classes in China. Five or six students on a team share a specially made round table and are very actively involved. Each teacher is in charge of one team, to solve the social conflicts at the table.
However, she says there are still some difficulties. For example, more teachers need to be trained in this teaching style.
"Many foreign companies are already familiar with students' project, and they are willing to let students make a proposal for them. But Chinese companies tend to believe only professionals because they are worried about the quality of the project," she says.
"Several foreign companies are already negotiating with us, so that our students can make projects for them."