THE USER-DRIVEN CREATIVE ACADEMY
DS 83: Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE16), Design Education: Collaboration and Cross-Disciplinarity, Aalborg, Denmark, 8th-9th September 2016
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Ahmed Kovacevic, Lyndon Buck, Christian Tollestrup, Kaare Eriksen, Nis Ovesen
Author: Møller (1), Louise; Bolvig Poulsen (2), Søren
Institution: 1Associate Professor, Department of Architecture, Design and Media Technology, 2Associate Professor, Department of Communication and Psychology
Users have always been a point of focus in design, but in the beginning of the new millennium userdriven
approaches and user-oriented projects were taken to a new level of recognition. As part of this
development, the User Driven Creative Academy (U-CrAc) was created at Aalborg University as a
cross-faculty platform. Today, the academy is an annual event, where approximately 150 students
from different educations come together in a three-week interdisciplinary and user-oriented workshop.
The academy is built upon Aalborg University’s model for problem-based learning and includes close
collaboration with industry partners.
The workshop format has, over the eight years of existence, undergone several changes with
integration of different elements. The workshop design itself has been an iterative process in which the
associated educators and researchers have explored new workshop structures, user-oriented methods
and various design techniques. Elements of success were included in the following workshops, while
others were excluded. This research project shows that U-CrAc has changed dramatically from a methodological strict
approach and highly controlled process by the educator team; to almost fully controlled by the projectteams
within the overall structure of U-CrAc. This of cause implies changes in the pedagogical
approach, as well as in the students’ type of realization of the subject matter. Moreover, the study
shows a general tendency of expanding the instructional lectures, e.g. how to conduct the fieldwork, to
also address and facilitate the alignment of the interdisciplinary student teams in both generating new
user insights and developing design parameters.