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Collaborative Experience Design with Arctic Design Week


Students from Lapland UAS, University of Maribor and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona participated in Arctic Design Week in March. What were the challenges and what did the students learn from the event?

Collaborative Experience Design is a study unit in which tourism students design events in collaboration with Arctic Design Week. The objective of the study unit is to get a holistic view on experience design and collaborative event management.

This year the study unit was integrated into ERASMUS+ Blended Intensive Program which meant that the study unit was organized in cooperation with international universities in Maribor and Barcelona. In total 41 students took part in the collaboration and 4 student groups were designing, implementing and evaluating events for the design week.

The Arctic Design Week is a multi-faceted arctic event in Rovaniemi that, among other things, promotes design know-how and business in the North, as well as provides an arena of influential people for the entire Arctic. This year the event took place 20.-26.3. The city celebrated the 15th edition of the world’s most northern design event under the theme “Better Future - Arctic Smartness”.


Student Groups working remotely

It was nice to be able to collaborate with such a great event and still be able to implement our own ideas as students. As students and tourism managers to be, students from Lapland UAS, University of Maribor and Universitat Autonoma Barcelona, were invited to participate at this year’s event. The study unit kicked off in January and team members got to know each other remotely. Theory lessons were organized in Zoom.

Students started planning and discussing the event right at the beginning of the study unit. Since students live in different time zones, it was a bit of a challenge to get used to that. Another issue that could be counted as a challenge was technical difficulties, which could occur at any given time. As for the benefits of starting a project with remote teamwork, it is a great way to ensure that we are thoroughly prepared for our event. The first two months were filled with a lot of discussions and planning. (story continues after the picture)

Group of students participating in Arctic Design Week
Picture 1: Design Your Dreams: Ariadna, Magdalena, Katariina, Alicia, Ester, Neža, Riikka, Diana, Klara and Logan.

In conclusion, remote teamwork is an important skill to have in today’s working life. It helps us to work in a more relaxed atmosphere, and we can get the job done efficiently. Luckily there are a lot of different programs and applications which are available when working together with international students from different countries. Programs such as Miro, WhatsApp, Teams, Padlet, Open Moodle and Canva were used during the projects. (Story continues after the picture) 

Students participating in Arctic Design Week
Picture 2: Arctic Immersion: Marble, Jason, Alisa, Anna, Olivia, Juulia, Carla, Alicia, Almaida and Luka.


Experience Design Process

Preparations for events required brainstorming and ideation of the concept. Ideation involved us to think about the theme, the activities, timetable, roles, partners and of course the user personas. Planning the event took the most time but during the event a concrete and detailed plan helped a lot. The budget needed to be done and approved weeks before the event. When looking back, this should have been done even earlier so the discussions with the partner could have been done before.

Student groups planned marketing in which they aimed the message to their target groups and visualized all the material. Groups designed logos, posters, Instagram -account and also cooperated with the partners. Mostly the focus was on digital marketing such as Instagram or Facebook.

At the end of the project time was used in getting the supplies needed, preparing the venue and after the event of course, cleaning. After the event it was important to evaluate how did the event went and report on the metrics and indicators of the event. What went well and what are the things that could be developed? (Story continues after the pictures) 

Students participating in Arctic Design week
Picture 3: Students and teachers in Arctic Snowhotel & Glass Igloos.

Students participating in Arctic Design Week
Picture 4: Better Future with Sustainable Fashion: Abdo, Tajda, Liisa, Sandra, Julia, Simon, Lilly, Aino, Eneja and Kaja.


Learn by doing

Students learned the following aspects during the process:

Creativity and imagination: To organize a successful event, creative and imaginative skills are needed to plan and design activities that are attractive and engaging for the target group.

Patience and a sense of humor: A dose of patience and a sense of humor is needed to keep calm and maintain a positive attitude when unforeseen or challenging situations arise during the event.

Cultural sensitivity: It is important to have cultural understanding and sensitivity to ensure that the event respects and celebrates the cultural diversity of the people participating in the event.

Teamwork: Teamwork skills are essential to collaborate with other members of the event and to manage resources effectively. Being organizers from different countries, students were able to encourage collaboration and the exchange of different ideas, so we learnt about ideas from different cultures.

Social learning: The event was an opportunity to socialize and meet new people. Participating in these activities helped us to develop social skills such as communication, empathy and collaboration.

Problem solving: Organizing the event involved effective problem solving. As challenges arose, students learned to adapt and find creative solutions to ensure the event ran smoothly.

Evaluation and improvement: Once the events were over, students were able to evaluate its success and could see the lessons learned for future events. The organization of the event provided us with valuable lessons on what worked well and what can be improved in the future.

As a result, 4 events were organized in collaboration with Arctic Design Week and other partners in Rovaniemi 20.-26.3.2023. Students from Lapland UAS, University of Maribor and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona had a huge impact on the design week program through these versatile event concepts. Next year a similar collaboration will take place and students will design and produce a set of innovative and engaging events!

- Students of the ADW-project & their teacher Jenny Janhunen -