From March 27 to 31, the Intensive I Living Labs were hosted at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Latvia. In this event, students from different countries and study programs worked in teams to solve a real problem defined by an organization, entrepreneur, or community group. The process was monitored by a team of mentors, using a design-thinking approach, researching the target audience's needs, and developing prototypes. Ultimately, the solutions were publicly presented in the "I Living Lab Showdown" and further developed through the creation of start-ups or otherwise.
After months of preparation and cooperation with colleagues, during the intensive I Living Labs course, students and their coaches, the Educational Entrepreneurs (EEs), were working hard to co-create and provide solutions to challenges like "How to Boost Learners' Motivation in Higher Education" or "How to Talk to a Living Book". First, the challenge was introduced during the preceding On-Boarding week online. Then on-site, students spent a day on ideation and intensively elaborated on prototyping their solution for three days. Finally, at the Mini-Showdown on the closing day, students took the floor and presented their bright ideas and were ready to answer questions from their target audience, discussing the research they conducted, details of the production of their actual product, finances, how to start up and maintain their enterprise.
"These two weeks, where the first week consisted of informative lectures in a digital environment, and the second was active work in groups in person, were full of interesting events. Working with students from other universities and solving various current problems was very pleasant. During this project, I gained various information and experience, which I will be able to use in my studies and life in the future", reports one of the students joining from Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences. At the end of the Intensive I Living Labs, students recognized the importance of this experience and valued the personal and academic growth, the improvement of communication in a foreign language, the intercultural skills and the learning in an interdisciplinary and international environment. But beyond the academic achievements, it was also the opportunity to get to know a new country, as well as to share experiences and good times with students from other geographies.
Throughout the week, international cooperation was also crucial in the work of our educational entrepreneurs. The EE played more of a coaching role than a teacher or lecturer so that the trainers could practice their responsibility for team building and classroom dynamics by planning and giving clear instructions, offering advice and encouragement, and asking relevant questions that lead to exploratory activities and a more detailed examination of all the necessary aspects, to find solutions to the specific challenge.
The I Living Lab Showdown was livestreamed on YouTube and is available here.
At Polytechnic Institute of Setúbal, interviews with students who participated in the I Living Labs were conducted - they are available on YouTube here.
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