| 7 minute read

Empowering innovators and discovering their potential at 3ID Labs

Elena Galán-Muros
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For this week’s episode, we bring you the first part of our conversation with Lieven Desomviele, Lab Master at 3ID Labs, and Daria Kisina, an international business development professional and current “Labber” participating in the program.

Discover how 3ID Labs is redefining education by fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, active learning, and real-world problem-solving. Uncover the essence of the entrepreneurial mindset as we explore the journey of students navigating through diverse challenges, guided by the knowledge of external stakeholders.

If you enjoy this conversation, stay tuned for Part 2, where we delve deeper into the transformative impact of 3ID Labs.

In this article, we summarise part of that conversation, but you can listen to the full interview in our podcast:

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Tasha Day:
Could you please start by introducing yourselves and what you do at 3ID Labs?

Lieven Desomviele:
Just to tell a bit more about myself, I basically survived education and therefore I took as my personal mission to do whatever I could do facilitate this process for people have more of an entrepreneurial mindset. I started to work in Artevelde University of Applied Sciences 20 years ago as an occupational therapist. I have also studied drama therapy in Holland, and I’ve done my master’s thesis on creativity in Stockholm, which allowed me to also experience lots of different school systems.

By luck and by some strategy, we got the opportunity to design 3ID Labs almost six years ago. At that point I had started to get frustrated: I was teaching about creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship, but doing it in that very traditional setting. By applying for a competition internally on innovation in our university, we got to design and later on implement this project.

Daria Kisina:
For me, I was at the point of my life where I was looking for a career change, but I didn’t want to go through the traditional educational system. I came across eID Labs, and I was inspired by it because for me, the sense of ownership and the freedom and the time and the possibility to collaborate with different people is extremely important.

Tasha Day:
Lieven, could you please give us an introduction to the project?

Lieven Desomviele:
“3ID” stands for International Interdisciplinary and Intergenerational Design Studies. It started with the skill gap that our our partners from placements found in our students. They said: “Your graduates are very good in the discipline that they study, but they are lacking when it comes down to transdisciplinary skills”.

The disciplinary skills required for working in a field are imparted in traditional education, but what about skills as empathy or understanding, which are necessary to create impact on the world? We wanted to create a program which was based on experiential learning and these future skills.

What we hope our students get from this program is that they have a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship, that they are confident, a concerned citizen, a self-directed learner, and an active professional. We want people to be proactive, who take initiative and who have these skills.

We use the EntreComp as our assessment methodology and compass within our one-semester, full-time program. Students have 24/7 access to their learning and work environment, and everything we do within this program is “real life”.

We act as if we are professionals, and we create reflection and framework moments where we provide students with tools in order to reflect about their own behaviour, the behaviour of their teammates, and how they have been facing a certain challenge within the semester.

At the beginning, we select 15 to 20 challenges, which are related to the research groups in our university, and use the human-centred design approach and collaborate with local organisations to solve them. It’s crucial in our learning design that students are owners of the solution of their challenge because we want students to be internally motivated in order to go into learning. Our program is all based on the self-determination theory, which says that people naturally want to learn.

We also have very diverse teams. And by composing these teams, for example, with a healthcare professional, a business professional, and the design students, we teach students in an experiential way to learn to cooperate with diverse profiles.

Tasha Day:
Daria, can you tell us about the project that you are working on and how is it going for you so far?

Daria Kisina:
We have been working in the program for five weeks now, and my team and I are working on a social project connection between the residents of retirement care centres and their family members. After doing research, we found out that it is sometimes assumed as a task to visit a family member in a retirement centre.

We are at the stage where, after conducting our research, we are defining our problem. We are trying to narrow down who we are designing for, who will be our stakeholders. And I’m excited about the first Gate event, where we will present our idea to a jury and receive feedback and it will be decided if we continue with our project or if we join any of the other teams.

That is where we are now. I can say that, within these five weeks, I learned so many things that would take years to learn in a work environment.

Tasha Day:
What kind of challenges do you think students experience when they join the 3ID Labs from a more traditional academic setting?

Lieven Desomviele:
I wouldn’t bring it down to a certain age or a certain experience that people had in life. This has to do with ownership, creating a vision for yourself. We are trying to help students as much as possible by creating that safe environment in order to help them create these decisions. And we hope that they feel an ownership over three different aspects within this learning environment.

  1. Ownership over their own learning: Creating that lifelong learner who is aware of themselves and who is able to direct their behavior towards achieving a learning goal. Giving students ownership over their learning is crucial for us.
  2. Ownership over their learning environment: They have a 24/7 access to 3ID Labs so they can learn how to organise themselves, especially now when burnout is one of the biggest threats in our work environments. They need to learn to say no to certain things, like extended working hours, and the only way that they can do that is by allowing them to organise themselves.
  3. Ownership over the end product: The intellectual property is always for the labber because we want students to be internally driven in order to learn, and not from an external fear in order to not fail, which is often the case in traditional education.

Ready for more?

While you wait for the second part of this episode, you can take a look at the 5 must-listen podcast episodes on university entrepreneurship and continue to dive deep into the world of entrepreneurship in higher education.

If you are interested in the learnings from the Educators4Impact project, you can read more on our articles Demystifying entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education and Flipping the script: From Entrepreneurship Educators to impactful educators.

Stay tuned for the next episode on this series and don’t forget to follow us on your preferred podcast platform!

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