This morning I met with a bunch of the department heads with Jan and Inge to continue the development of the Social Ingenius. The meeting itself was great because there were four department heads, which gave us a full perspective. It seems that for those in the 1st semester, an opening weekend would be a bad idea, and instead it would be a 2hr course each week. This makes perfect sense to me because you can follow the project with this extra course and give them supplementary exercises and information. Although, as I got more information of the project, I realized that this would have to start early with the UCD and move quickly because although the project never becomes physical, they need to work on the technical aspects of it near the end. So, the ending would be a great time to work on communication of ideas and expressing theories, but the UCD would have to happen right away in order to stay with the project.
I decided to do some UCD myself and meet with a group of students who are currently in their second year of the engineering program that Social Ingenius would be applied to. Explaining the program took a bit of effort, especially because nothing similar to this exists within the defined engineering curriculum. To them, this is psychology or communication. I learned quite a few things. For one, the first week when choosing projects is pretty crazy, but wouldn’t be too bad of a time to introduce the program. Besides this, students would be afraid of a three year commitment right in the first day of school. Even though the major aspects of the program would be completed, it is critical to say that opting out of the Social Ingenius certificate is possible after the first year in order to get the registration of students. This allows interested students to sign up without the concern of committing themselves to do their bachelor’s thesis in the subject. There is no disadvantage to either side of the program if a student joins then opts out rather than not join at all. The student will still gain the knowledge taught in the extra course and the Social Ingenius program would still have students to fill their course. As well, communication and communicating ideas is not taught very much in the engineering curriculum. Although this is not a main focus of the degree program, it will absolutely be one of the learning objectives. I believe this is a value of many of the students, and they are likely to sign up for a program that would provide them with these skills.
There are also some small things that I learned from these students. They, or their motivated colleagues, wouldn’t be afraid of a 3 credit course, to them that is very small and not a big deal. It wouldn’t dissuade them from the program. In fact, they seemed excited about the possibilities of the things that they could learn in the course. Also, a degree supplement could be a good thing, but it wouldn’t be the driving factor. The driving factor would be gaining the pieces of information.
One of the students seemed to really think it was important to introduce it later. If a student in their second year missed the opportunity, would there be a way to opt-in?
In conclusion, the marketing of this program is going to be incredibly critical in gaining student attention and enrollment. It needs to be portrayed in a certain way to attract students both interested in the Social Profit sector or who want the valuable information taught in the course.