DE 551 Theory 3—Synthesis (2021)
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- Barth, Theodor 
The final theory course (DE 551—Theory 3, Synthesis) in 2021 was held under the conditions of the lockdown: we had learned a number of useful lessons from 2020, when the same course was run under the same conditions (Covid 19 lockdown). As during the previous year, the course was organised in small groups of 4 (Quads), to maintain face-to-face teaching and learning processes managed independently by the students themselves, within the bounds of small cohorts. As in the previous year, all the students had mandatory tutorials with professionals from each their specialisations (Fashion and Costume design, Graphic Design and Illustration, Interior Architecture and Furniture design). With a maximum of 3 tutorials. The course had 4 milestones: 1) a kickoff with the transdisciplinary QUAD groups in a domestic setting with the course leader; 2) a synthesis of the idea for an essay: 3) a detailed structure for the essay; 4) exams with oral presentations w/the specialisations. The students had a regular day-structure in which they started with morning meetings in the QUADs (emulating a transdisciplinary design studio). Worked independently during most of the day. Developed a panel to develop a visual concept for their projects. Tutorials with the course leader was organised with the QUADs, and also represented a continuous course evaluation since we had to take decisions within constraints the evolved in real time, and without secure information of how the exams would be. The exams were were organised by specialisation and were held in a studio arrangement built in the MediaLab Black box, that we also used the previous year. The final presentation took place 15-17th December. And relied on a hybrid arrangement. Which means that a limited number of people could be present at each presentation, due to the Covid 19 restrictions, and there was some traffic in/out for each presentation. Those present were: —the candidate and their QUADs —the professional staff —the exam committee (Håkon Caspersen and Theodor Barth) The rest of the class and the staff were present on Zoom. Which means that all of the students had both a local and remote interface with the exam and its contents. The exam had a fixed structure: 1) the course leader (Theodor Barth) delivered a précis presenting and discussing the contents of the students’ theory essays. 2) the students gave each their oral presentation where their task was to transpose in the terms of their specialisations, where they surfaced after working with the essay. 3) the external examination (Håkon Caspersen) engaged a discussion with the students based on what he had seen and heard. 4) the professional staff/specialised teachers engaged a conversation with Q&A with the students. 5) the course leader summarised the discussion. 6) the panels that the students had developed to conceptualise their process, where lined up at the entry so that the audience could spend some time with these elements, in dialogue with the students, on their way out. 7) the arrangement used for the above programme was that of the learning theatre [two facing rows of chairs, the candidate and committee in a panel with an orthogonal orientation to the audience, and the projection surface at the opposite end of the space] In a final round, the students were asked to proof their theory essays, and asked for permission to publish the theory essays and the presentations. From what appeared in the final projects, it was clear that the collaboration between theory and the specialised teachers had resulted in professional independence of students who stand in their work. The QUAD groups were dynamic in a professionalising fashion, the students and course evaluator agreed, in particular the ones who keep to this work-form all the way to delivery and final presentation. The decision was made to keep the concept (derived from Bruno Latour and Samuel Beckett), as a stable element in the MA courses, also after the lockdown.
Situation, class-list, theory essays, oral presentations.