University of South-Eastern Norway – USN
“Innovation in Teams” – University of South-Eastern Norway
How is the course set up?
“Innovation in Teams” is the signature course of University of South-Eastern Norway (USN). The aim is to develop students’ competencies in innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration, so they can contribute to sustainable development. More than 200 students participated in 2023. This number is expected to increase in the years to come, until most undergraduate students at USN have the opportunity to participate.
In Innovation in Teams, students work in interdisciplinary teams of 5-7 participants, usually from different study programs. Each team develops an innovation project. The starting point of the projects are real-life sustainability-oriented challenges or opportunities from external partners in society and work life. The result should be an innovative solution that can be implemented and useful for partners and other relevant actors. Students develop collaborative skills by reflecting on and evaluating their interdisciplinary teamwork throughout the course.
How do students improve interdisciplinary teamwork skills?
Innovation in Teams is an opportunity for students to build on and apply existing knowledge and skills from their specific program in a new interdisciplinary setting, with the aim of creating something new. At the beginning of the course, students map relevant competencies within their team that may be applied in the project. Interdisciplinarity and other forms of diversity within the team may be beneficial for innovation, and students are encouraged to reflect on how diversity influences their collaboration.
How do students improve innovation skills?
Students improve innovation skills by working through stages of the innovation process and reflecting on their experiences. The double diamond innovation model is the overarching framework for this process. This framework highlights four stages: Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver. The first two stages focus on the problem, whereas the last two focus on the solution. Tools and exercises, for example from Design Thinking, are introduced to support these stages. Mini lectures, online resources, and suggested readings are made available as complementary learning resources.
How do students work with reflection?
Throughout the course, students reflect both individually and in the team as part of interactive exercises and in written assignments. Reflection aims to stimulate awareness and integration of seemingly unrelated events from the teamwork into more general insights. It may also help to make tacit knowledge explicit. Reflection and reciprocal peer feedback in the team contribute to experience based knowledge, new social skills and insights that may be transferred to future professional life.
Copies of the EiT book of reflections are available on request.
How do we work with facilitation?
Faculty members facilitate learning and innovation processes. Social exercises, tools and descriptive feedback in group meetings are examples of facilitation practices used in this course. Facilitation aims to make students reflect on, discuss, and if needed change interactive patterns, which may lead to improved group functioning and social learning.