In the space of four months, I went from knowing little about co-creation to delivering an event on co-creation in education. So, what exactly is co-creation? It has a few synonyms: co-production, co-operation and co-design. My favourite definition is of co-creation as ‘close collaboration between learners and teachers.’ While good collaboration underpins good co-creation, not all collaboration is co-creation. After all, my job title is Collaborative Outreach Officer not Co-creation Outreach Officer! The key to co-creation is involvement from the start for all partners and that shared discovery. The view of students being partners underpinned the event on co-creation.
The Office for Students (OfS) encourages ‘student voice’, which co-creation helps with. Yet, co-creation is not often found in HE. A part of student voice is attainment raising (yet another focus in HE): it is what students say they want so not just what stakeholders think they need. At Go Higher West Yorkshire (GHWY), we bring stakeholders together and this co-creation event was part of our Good Practice Programme (GPP).
GHWY’s GPP is about sharing good practice and is designed to support practical learning and reflections for delegates across our partnership. It is a part of our commitment to support the partnership by facilitating semi-regular themed events. On this occasion, the theme was co-creation and relates to Higher Education (HE) success.
The two-hour event took place on a Monday morning in June. There were around 15 delegates. It was my first time organising an online event and it ran like clockwork. The morning began with an overview of co-creation and how it should work in theory. This included the benefits of co-creation (democratic, active learning, strong relationships); the theory of co-creation (a ladder ranging from zero student input to students having control); framework of co-creation (how it benefits learners, teachers and stakeholders); and tips for co-creation (start small, look at student feedback for co-creation opportunities, be reflective).
The delegates then heard about co-creation in practice from external speakers who shared practical examples of learning and co-creation. The speakers were Cosmos and the Humber Outreach Programme (HOP) on their co-creation workshops and academics from Kingston University and the University of Leeds on co-creation in the curriculum. All speakers focused on under-represented students, which was great as they often benefit most from co-creation.
We learnt about the importance of a two-phased approach to co-creation and how you cannot rush the first stage of listening to student voice. Also, there are opportunities for co-creation both inside and outside the curriculum. Finally, co-creation can foster a sense of belonging by building a community, which ensures student success in HE. The morning culminated in a Q&A/discussion, which consolidated all the takeaways from the GPP event on co-creation.
Overall, the co-creation event went well. In terms of next steps, GHWY want to develop a flow chart that will get members to think ‘why not co-create’ instead of ‘why co-create’. There may be an opportunity to look for existing examples of co-creation within the partnership to build on this event. A copy of the slides for this GPP are available on request from Susan Darlington.
Tahera Mayat, Collaborative Outreach Officer, Go Higher West Yorkshire