Collaborative Practice

Katie Durkin
5 min readFeb 20, 2021


Module Launch 25/01/2021

As the name suggests, the Collaborative Practice module solely entails group work. This module will explore the theme of ‘The Hidden City’ which focuses on revealing parts of Birmingham that are not necessarily noticed. Marks for this project will be 70% group work, while the other 30% is an individual evaluation.

My group members and I launched the module by discussing the catalyst words: utopia, viral, closed, free, growth and divided. We discussed ways in which each of these can relate to Birmingham, of which we selected a few ideas to put to the group in the tutor group feedback session.

We selected the word growth and created two ideas:
- Documenting the growth of Birmingham’s high street
- Finding green spaces within the city that people have been able to explore during lockdown (areas which they would not normally go to in their local area). We discussed creating a form in which people can submit photographs that we can then illustrate and put in an exhibition

In further group calls we discussed some more ideas:
- Documenting the Birmingham canals, their history and how they impacted the growth of the city and the Black Country
- The impact of Birmingham’s growing population on NHS services (particularly during the pandemic)

Group Meeting 01/02/2021

During this group meeting we further expanded on the documenting green spaces idea. We began researching further into the topic of how nature and going outdoors can help mental health. We discovered Awe Walks which are walks in which you go outside and look for particular things to ensure you absorb your surrounding; they are said to relieve stress and improve mental health.

Group Meeting 03/02/2021

Following the morning lecture that discussed responses to the D&AD competition briefs we decided that our green spaces idea was not strong enough. Emma had discussed earlier in the week that we should focus on how, what and why:
How = Execution
What = The idea
Why = Insight

Our project was missing the ‘golden nugget’ that every good project needs. This was when Jessie, Rosie and I sat down on Teams for a few hours and just brainstormed ideas, researching and trying to find something that had purpose. This was when our project took a turn in the right direction. We knew that our original idea was not what any of us really wanted to do, it didn’t emphasise any of our skills but it was all we had. Our strong communication allowed us to agree on a new project idea which was:
- Focusing on the student mental health crisis
- Documenting students feeling unsupported by the government and their universities
- Documenting the struggles students are having with finance
- Creating affordable student accommodation
- Creating an item/food bank to allow students to buy cheaper household essentials
- Create an app and website for the item/food bank and accommodation

Group Meeting 05/02/2021

Following the last meeting we conducted research into student mental health issues, student money worries and we began exploring names for the affordable student living brand and item/food bank.

Each group member was assigned a role:
Ellie: Designer, UX/UI
Jessie: Researcher, copywriter, photographer
Katie: Researcher, idea generation, designer
Rosie: Lead designer
Within the research and idea generation, Jessie took charge of the student living brand while I took charge of the food/item bank.

Upon discussion we decided on ‘Access’ for the student living brand and ‘Uni-Cycle’ for the food/item bank. As Rosie was creating mood boards for the brand we decided on a grey with vibrant colours colour scheme, this being due to the brutalist architecture known to Birmingham. The food/item bank will follow the same scheme but be grey with shades of green to emphasise that it is separate and has it’s own purpose.

Peer Assessment Feedback 08/02/2021

We were all apprehensive about this feedback session as we were all aware of us having changed our idea a week into the project. Our work was graded by our peers and different elements were graded 1–10 (for example, research skills, use of imagination and collaborative team working skills). Scores 1–3 were a fail, 4–6 were good and 7–10 were excellent. It was noted some students would be very generous which was clear as we received a few 10s. Despite not having any proper design work in our presentation we think our solid ideas helped us with our high scored feedback.

The positive feedback told us that our project has a lot of potential and is an intelligent response to the brief. Our improvements will involve linking the issues discussed to Birmingham as at the moment it could be in any city. We were also told we may be trying to do too much, with the recycling/reclaiming campaign and the student living brand so this shall be discussed and worked on.

Group Meeting 12/02/2021

Feedback we received on Wednesday (10/02/21) found us choosing to focus purely on Uni-Cycle as we had given ourselves too much to do. We decided we would rather have one solid idea rather than multiple campaigns that are not as well-rounded.

A clear flaw in our work was that there was not enough connection to Birmingham. To resolve this we created a form that is aimed at Birmingham students, asking about their finances at university. Questions include:

  • Do you find it expensive to live in Birmingham?
  • After rent and bills do you have more than £30 a week of disposable income (e.g. for a food shop)?
  • Would you benefit from a food/item bank?
  • Do you work alongside your studies?
  • Do you feel financial worries/problems have contributed towards a deterioration in your mental health?

In this data that we collect there may still be some grey areas in terms of whether the students have money coming from elsewhere (e.g. their parents) that is put towards their disposable income. However, the results we really wanted from this is to discover how many people have lower than £30 per week to spend on their food shop amongst other things; these people are our target audience.

The meeting also involved discussing who has what role over the next week in order for us to hit the deadline. The roles are:

Jessie: Copywriter and social media campaign development

Ellie: App development

Rosie: Poster Development

Katie: Logo and logistics

Group Meeting 19/02/2021

We had meetings between this and the last, all involving discussion of our progress. Our results for the form gave us a good insight into the topic of our project, justifying the need for an item bank. We had 20 responses in total and although this is only a small amount of people in comparison to the amount of students in Birmingham, 50% saying they would benefit from an item bank is significant.

As this was the final group meeting before the deadline we finalised our plans for getting the project completed. We each agreed on what we needed to do, finding that my involvement was near enough done besides from a mood board or two. Being more on the research side of this project has been extremely insightful for me. Although I did do some design work (designing the logo) it was nice to take a different role and focus solely on research and idea generation. I found it frustrating at times as this is something I have never done before, not having worked in a group dynamic like this. However, it was exciting to see others working off my ideas.