The school addresses youth from Iceland and abroad that has an interest in working with art, that wants to pursue further education or practice within art, or want to explore the creative field of the arts while developing a foundation for further work life and life in general. This school represents a new market for educational solutions in the Icelandic educational system.
We are starting up a brand new art school in Iceland. The project contains numerous design elements, but in this application we will focus on the learning design. and how that fits into it's context. The school addresses youth from Iceland and abroad that has an interest in working with art, that wants to pursue further education or practice within art, or want to explore the creative field of the arts while developing a foundation for further work life and life in general. This school represents a new market for educational solutions in the Icelandic educational system.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
What would the most amazing artistic experimental educational experience look like that would provide the students with a strong foundation for their further artistic practice, their work-life and their life in general? And how do we take the essence of an artfestival, LungA Festival, and create a school from that? We set out to address several challenges relating to the different contexts that the project is part of. First and foremost we wanted to broaden the landscape for educational opportunities on Iceland and create a new educational program with a foundation of creativity and art and a focus on education of the whole human. We also wanted to create an institution and a community that would blend in with the existing community in Seydisfjordur, and that would be a strong contribution to a rising cultural identity. Within the different elements of the projects we experienced many different challenges. - How do we translate and synthesize the lived experience of the LungA festival into a working and credible foundation for an educational program? - How do we invite the local community in to the development and generate local momentum and support? - How do we create a program that distances itself from the existing educational system, but also relates to it and starts a process of reinventing the entire educational landscape in Iceland? And specifically for the design of the flow of the program: - How do we design for emergence? And how do we communicate this?3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
The most important thing for us in the process of designing and executing this project has been to keep the students in mind. To have them as our main concern and to always make sure that whatever we did, it was done to ensure that the quality of our product, the educational program, would be heightened. Our main strive has been the strive for pushing our own understanding of education and to create a program that has at it's core that it is always pushing itself to get even better and to provide the students with an even better education. Another point of view that we emphasized was a minimal use of new resources. Around us we saw numerous unused resources that would just need to be activated or reinvented, and by this we would be able to create new markets for these unused resources. We have had a focus on strengthening the local community by finding new ways of using the existing passive resources. And finally, we wanted to design a school that would be so well integrated in the local community that the idea of what role a school plays in a community would be changed, and the idea of learning becomes a process that everyone participates in for the benefit of everyone. The school would become a place that generates learning experiences for the whole community.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
From the beginning we took an important decision and announced this project as being an inevitable reality and not merely a possible one. We decided early on that this would become real no matter what. We did so openly to ourselves and to all the people around the project. That open declaration has been extremely valuable both internally and externally as to gain support and momentum and to keep the creative tension alive. This, along with an aura of magic that we have deliberately tied to the project, has sparked the curiosity with those that has gotten to know about the project along the way and has opened many doors for us. The different parts of the project has required different types of research with different focus and different methods. For the program design we created a long learning journey for ourselves where we would become familiar with several different philosophies of education and human nature as well as diving into theories of learning styles, creativity, learning organizations, community development, experience design, sustainability and much more. We have mapped out the subjects that we needed to cover and investigate, we have read tons of texts and most importantly we have contacted and met a very broad range of people and through long conversations we have tried to tap into their huge body of tacit knowledge. Not only to understand their ideas, but also to understand what the backgrounds of their ideas are. From all these inputs we have build our own program and then again, through several iterations, tested it with these people and other experts, as well as with potential students and other stakeholders. Our process of creation has been seamlessly interwoven with the process of researching and they have each been part of the iterations we have gone through. We have worked in a similar way with designing the overall structure of the school and the relation to the context, however this process has been even more inclusive from the beginning. We have started it all with an invitation. An invitation for all that we saw as relevant stakeholders to help us. All stakeholders has been introduced to the project, and has in some way been invited to participate in the development. Potential students from Iceland and abroad, the local community, the regional community, the educational ministry, collaboration partners, friends of the LungA community and many more. Some of the stakeholders have been very connected with the establishment of the school, the financial and political aspects, while some have been more connected to the product of the school - the program. We have nurtured both 'kinds' of stakeholders during the process, so that we would be able to do two things: 1. make the school become a reality in a way that is aligned with the values and the brand of the school. 2. be able to offer the students the best possible program and the best possible frames for the program.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The value creation of this project takes place on many levels and works with different timeframes also. - We create value for the students. We provide them with an educational program that they cannot get anywhere else and that will give them a strong foundation for further life and work, and a community of peers that they can bring with them after they end the school. - We create value locally. An institution like this in a town of 600 people - has an impact. Especially when we have had a focus of revitalizing and reusing the local resources that wasn't being used. This brings both financial, social and cultural value to the town. - We create value nationally. We open up the traditional educational system and show the way for alternative educational solutions. We both create a new market for these, and we will have an impact on the landscape of education on Iceland. Furthermore, on a national level, we are hoping to inspire other small, remote communities to assess their unused resources and mobilize them in a way that can revitalize the whole area. Most of the small communities along the Icelandic coast has experienced diminishing population and activity, especially in the last 40 years.6. Did the context of your project change throughout its development? If so, how did your understanding of the project change?
We have tried to embody the philosophy and the values that makes up the LungA School. For many obvious reasons. - We represent the school and therefore we must reflect the idea, the product and the overall culture that we are creating and that we believe in. - The philosophy and values that the program has been build upon is not just a philosophy for education, but for life in a broader sense. - By actively designing our project as a learning experience we had the possibility of testing some of our ideas on ourselves. This has played a huge part in the flow of research and creation and how the two has fed into each other. Much of the content in the project is based on our lived experiences that has been reflected upon, synthesized, verbalized and translated into a part of the project, the program or our process. We believe that we have had to act in order to gain more knowledge and progress in the project. Proper research would not be possible without acting first and neither would proper development of the project, especially not when the ambition has been to create something that doesn't exist already. The complexity of the multiple contexts, and our novel experience with them, has deemed it impossible to fully foresee the consequences of our actions, thus we have worked with multiple scenarios and approaches so we would be able to change approach based on the feedback along the way.7. How will your project remain economically and operationally sustainable in the long term?
A lot of the impact is still to come considering that the school officially opens in 2014. However, already now we can see some of the effects that will only increase in the future. - Our collaborative partners such as the Art Academy in Reykjavik and Menntaskólinn in Egilsstadir are very inspired by our program and approach and both are interested in incorporating parts of the approach into their own educational model and into some of their programs. This shows part of the development that we hope to start. That the existing educational institutions sees us as an inspiration and are eager to exchange knowledge and experiences in order to heighten the overall quality. Furthermore, the ministry of education are interested in establishing a group that will determine how this type of education can become a part of the official educational system. Locally we also see a lot of impact already. Our collaborators such as the local hostels and hotel has been acquiring more facilities to be able to accommodate our needs and they have already made a lot of investments. So has the municipality who is also designing a branding strategy for the town with much more emphasis on arts and culture. The level of interest that is shown by the local community in general bears witness to the great expectations that the community has for this project.
We see a very strong potential for this program in reinvigorating small communities where they are embraced within the overall educational concept. We feel the energy behind this project but based on what we are presented with, recommend exploring the balance further between precision of content, theory and practice so as to stay open to exploration of pedagogies and testing and true to the original concept of the original event. We have no doubt that you will make this happen and wish you luck.