QUT INTERACT Student Emerson Reflects on His Exchange in London

img_19101477589992676-1Image (left): Emerson works on the London Design Festival exhibition The Joy of Sets x The Kubrick Archive on his first week on exchange at LCC.

“It’s been two months since I was first exposed to the beautiful chaos that is London. It’s a meeting point of a thousand and one different cultures, creeds, and opinions. And I love it! The 8-million strong population provides the perfect environment for an endless variety of cultural, design, and societal revolutions.

It’s absolutely fabulous to witness. But, as someone from a small city, it can get quite overwhelming. And sometimes, I find myself in need of a shelter–a bubble, if you will. Something that would enable me to reflect on the cultural tapestry of this amazing city and, perhaps, contribute to it.

For the past two months, that’s been LCC for me. It is microcosm of London’s diversity and chaos, albeit a quieter, more manageable one. IDA has given me an opportunity to observe the environment and, through open-ended briefs, bring my own views, skills, and goals and distill them into projects that reflect my competencies quite accurately.

The biggest difference—and one I have had to adjust to the most—is the way classes are taught. QUT follows a structured system for most subjects I have taken: a one-hour lecture followed by a two-hour tutorial. And, usually, there are set topics every week for both.

LCC (or at least IDA) follows an unstructured teaching style. The tutors usually give a task to be completed before the session. We then present our progress in said task, and they give feedback.

The first couple of weeks were an exercise in adjusting to this relaxed style. The class can end at 1pm or 5pm, depending on how the students engage. It was quite the culture shock!

But by the third week, I’ve grown to appreciate this manner of teaching. It is the manifestation of the phrase, ‘What you put into something is exactly what you get out of it.’ Because so long as we have questions and work to show, the tutors will have feedback, answers, and insights specific to your idea.

It might be a function of maturity rather than teaching style, but I found the students are more collaborative here. Compared to QUT students (in my experience, and including myself) they are more open to share ideas and more open to feedback. Again, this is simply something I have observed. Since I haven’t yet experienced much outside of core Interactive and Visual Design subjects, students further into their QUT degree might very well be more open to collaboration.

However, both universities allow for creative experimentation. QUT is great at providing a breadth of design theories, case studies, and concepts. This knowledge has given me the confidence to take risks on my ideas, while still conforming to best design practices.

Overall, it has been a fantastic experience in LCC! Although my work and career goals are mostly focused on the digital, it is genuinely eye-opening to be exposed to low-tech, physical interactive processes that dominate IDA. Going back to basics is an excellent way to get a solid understanding of core interaction design concepts. It’s enabled me to look further past the digital and focus on the idea rather than the tools. This is something I definitely will bring back when I continue my studies at QUT.”

Emerson, QUT.