Of living labs and learning cities

At the heart of Montreal’s Conférence régionale des élus (CRÉ) is an initiative named Montréal ville apprenante de la créativité et de l’innovation whose intention is to position Montreal as an innovative and creative learning city. As the organization’s staff wished to explore new concepts (such as living labs) and generate ideas to imagine its future and improve how it functioned, it called upon percolab. We drew on our extensive network of educational innovators and on our experience with living labs and collaboration circles to support the organisation in creating a learning circle.

Participants from diverse sectors (La CRÉ, educational institutions, municipal libraries, community organizations, and from the world of social innovation)  came together for six sessions held over a six month period in six different locations across the city (a cooking school, a theatre, a community organization, a coworking space, a library, and the CRÉ’s own offices), to co-creatively explore the different aspects of the learning city.

What emerged from these six sessions was a bounty of fresh and creative ideas, a number of concrete projects that are being followed up on, an expanded network of contacts for the organization, support and feedback on its existing projects, and capacity-building for its staff.

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The Metamorphosis of the Insectarium

Montreal’s four nature and science institutions, the Biodome, the Insectarium, the Botanical Gardens and the Planetarium, are collectively known as Space for Life. The largest natural science museum complex in Canada, Space for Life is committed to protecting biodiversity and to citizen participation.

Metamorphosis is the Insectarium’s ambitious renewal project that aims to offer visitors sensorial experiences and novel encounters that deepen the human/insect relationship.  The Insectarium invited percolab to develop a co-design process that would lead to a pre-concept for its Metamorphosis. Sessions were structured around five themes (biomimicry , senses/embodiment, scale/spaces, time/cycles, visitor/actor) and engaged participants (both internal and external to the Insectarium) to arrive at an inspirational vision for the new Insectarium.

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Improving the Design of Learning, Technology and Space

Client: Université de Montréal, Faculty of Environmental Design 

Establish a vision and action plan to improve the physical and digital environments of the Environmental Design Faculty (architecture, urbanism, interior design, landscape design, industrial design) so as to better support learning and the faculty. The action plan includes elements for the short term that can be accomplished within the existing building as well as long term priorities that could be implemented in the future building/site.

Given that the technological plan of the faculty needed updating and at the same time there are plans for the faculty to move to a new site a new vision process was put in place that integrates the two.

Innovation/challenges:

  • A systemic approach that integrates pedagogical practice and organisational model, technological tools and environments and physical space
  • Inclusive participatory approach involving students, staff and all five departments

Percolab role:

  • Design, facilitate, document a series of workshops to support the emerging of a common vision and action plan with the committee
  • Consultancy to identify and document inspirational practice
  • Observation, interviews and workshops within the faculty.
  • Installation of an online space for the project

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PICS: A Collaborative Space for the European Commission

Client: European Commission, Director General Taxation and Customs

The Programme Information and Collaboration Space (PICS) project had as its objective to strengthen the collaborative efficiency amongst professionals working in National Tax and Customs Administrations across the European Union (approx. 30 countries). To do so, a secure portal was developed and implemented allowing for a collaborative sharing of information and tools across the national administrations and the central European Commission Tax and Customs Unit.

The PICS portal was purposefully developed to serve the complex multicultural reality of the European administrative services that functions in twenty-three official languages – with each national administration working autonomously yet handling similar challenges. The PICS project ensures that each member can better meet these challenges: learning, sharing and building on what other members are doing and vice-versa. The collaborative tools withinPICS allows for effective distance work and reduced travel costs.

Through our use of project facilitation, design, documentation, and training, percolab contributed to establishing the project vision and road map, and creating the information system design, production of functional specifications, and development of prototypes. We provided graphic design, interface design, quality assurance (functional testing, in situ testing, end-to-end testing, user testing) and produced content in the form of site micro-content, help texts, and user guides.

The result is a flexible system created by the European Commission but easily adaptable for each national administration to manage in accordance to local needs and reality: the portal (designed in English) accommodates the use of all twenty-three European languages and users are provided with various structured forms and workflows that sync with complex context.

Site : https://webgate.ec.europa.eu/pics [secure]
Technologies : Drupal, MySQL, PHP, XHTML, XML, CSS2/3, Flash vidéo

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