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The ICC Learning Community Solving Social Problems

 Inha University operates the ICC project, which stands for Inha Creative Changer, to provide opportunities to find problems in our society and propose solutions from various perspectives. Let's look at the direction and outcomes of this project and think about the need for a community that solves social problems.

 

New Trends in University Education

 In general, university education in Korea follows the education model in which professors teach the contents of a subject at a fixed time and students learn it by sitting and passively attending lectures. In other words, teaching at university follows the system of memorizing already established theories and checking the results with tests, not students' spontaneous participation classes. However, various attempts have been made recently to strengthen the choice of students' classes, along with reforms in education, among which Phenomenon-based learning (Project work) is at the heart of educational innovation. Phenomenon-based learning is not a teaching method to measure students’ standards of achievement, but rather a method of giving students continuous learning access by selecting the content they want to learn and creating knowledge.

 Eun-hye Yu, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, noted the meaning of Phenomenon-based learning in an interview with the Munhwa Ilbo on May 10, 2021, saying "Even if it is a one-off class, I think factors learned in the project works have a positive impact on  society in that students live and make a difference.” In addition, on May 13, 2021, Mihee Jung, a team leader of the Ulsan Jung-gu Youth Career Experience Center, said in an interview with the Kyungsang Ilbo, “The process of performing team project tasks encourages learners’ active participation in solving problems throughout life and helps them grow more.”

 

ICCS

 Inha University supports students' academic community activities by conducting the Inha Creative Changer School (ICCS) linking curricular subjects and  non-curricular activities with the goal of nurturing creative and convergently talented students who see society from a variety of perspectives. After completing one of the eight courses (AI & Data Science, Smart IOT, Business Administration, and Digital Trade Integration), participating in the ICC project, and taking a problem-solving course, students can receive a convergent talent certificate. Through micro majors, that open during the seasonal semester, non-major students, in this project, can also take customized lectures and improve their practical problem-solving skills in conjunction with major knowledge.

 

ICC Project

 

 The ICC project is one of several nonsubject programs that meet the educational goals of Inha University. Students from various social backgrounds, ages, and majors become teams to find problems in the community, society, education, and the environment. It is a learning community that finds solutions through discussion and learning. This project, which started in December 2019, is an annual program that is held during the summer or winter vacation and this year's project will operate during the winter vacation of 2021.

 During the winter vacation in 2020, 58 students from 29 departments from 7 colleges, including engineering colleges, teamed up to find solutions to social problems under the theme of various problems in Michuhol-gu, including garbage, empty houses, and fine dust. The Faculty Learning Development Center in charge of this project also invited expert mentors to enable students to think from different perspectives and provided design-thinking and learning facilitation to help students achieve empathy and a transformation of new ideas.

 

Effectiveness of the ICC Project

 According to statistics from Inha University's external public relations team, the ICC project was completed by all students in 12 teams in 2020, achieving a 100% completion rate. In addition, it has achieved a high degree of satisfaction for students in active problem-solving opportunities, and learning diversity. Tae-wook Jeong, Director of Inha University's Faculty Learning Development Center, said, “The ICC project will seek students' potential by exploring various fields including global, educational and environmental as well as local community issues. Also, different backgrounds will be an important basis for expanding the subject and eliciting results.” This was in an interview with Inha University supporters in 2020.

 

Interviews with Students Who Participated in the ICC Project Last Year

 Min-kyung Kim, a Student in the Department of Social Welfare

The Inha Times(IT): What first motivated you to participate in the ICC project?

Min-kyung Kim: First of all, I found out about the ICC project in the notice section on the school website. Since I couldn't have face-to-face classes due to Covid 19, I felt that something was missing even though I was attending university. So, I participated in the ICC project because I wanted to talk to students with various undergraduate backgrounds and expand the scope of my thinking.

IT: Can you briefly explain the topic or content that you explored in the ICC project?

Min-kyung Kim: Our team was given Michuhol-gu's ‘empty house problem’, ‘lack of communication between neighbors’ and ‘negative atmosphere’ as major problems and specifically planned a shared kitchen, a type of leisure facility.

IT: Please explain the trials and errors you experienced during the ICC project and what you learned and felt through it.

Min-kyung Kim: While working on the project, I learned that there are people who look at the same things differently from me because they have different majors and different personalities. Through the process, I felt the importance of not only conveying my thoughts in words, but also organizing them in writing and using pictures and objects clearly for illustration.

IT: Please tell me if there were any methods or conditions for participating in the ICC project.

Min-kyung Kim: In my case, I didn't have any special abilities or qualifications. The first step is to write a self-introduction letter and to have an interview. In the self-introduction letter, you must present your own self, your motivation for participation, and your future plans. You don't have to feel a lot of pressure for the interview and you can think of it as a way to talk about your ideas in a really comfortable atmosphere. For example, there was a question, ‘How do I resolve a conflict between team members?’ In that case, you can tell your thoughts honestly, even if they are short.

IT: What would you like to say to your fellow students who haven't participated in the ICC project?

Min-kyung Kim: In fact, I had a lot of difficulties because I carried out all the activities online. However, most of the participants in the ICC project tried to participate enthusiastically and the Faculty Learning Development Center paid a lot of attention to that. So, it remains a pleasant and meaningful memory for me and I really hope you will try this.

 

 The following interviews were also conducted with the same questions.

 Ji-in Seol, a Student in the Department of Biological Sciences.

Ji-in Seol: I thought the biggest problem in Michuhol-gu was that the walking practice rate was low, so I worked on the project focusing on adjusting the distance we wanted to walk. While devising the method, I was able to recognize that the proportion of abandoned dogs in Michuhol-gu is higher than in other areas.

 

 Therefore, I thought that if I created an activity that combined volunteer work with abandoned dogs, many people would be able to take a walk on the street without any problems and I chose the theme of ‘To Be Crazy About Walking.’ Also, we made prototypes related to automatic poop bins, vests and safety cords that can improve pet poop disposal and safety problems when volunteering for abandoned dogs and even applications called ‘The Distance Between You and Me’. The opinions that we first thought of were already set by the district offices, so it was too difficult to plan and achieve them in detail. Nevertheless, from this experience, I understood once again that many people were trying to develop our society.

 

 Ji-hye Han, a Student in the Department of International Trade.

Ji-hye Han: The theme of the ICC project during the winter vacation in 2020 was 'Creating a Smart Community.' With the goal of reducing various inconveniences caused by ginkgo nuts, we attempted to improve ginkgo fruit recognition and suggested a processing plan for collected fruits.

 The hardest time for our team was after the meeting at the district office. The meeting was held only a week before the deadline as the schedule for the district office meeting was delayed due to Covid 19. They gave us feedback and we had to accept and modify all the feedback in only two days. That was a huge challenge for us. However, I was able to find a solution to the problem through mentoring training and meetings with team members. Through this experience, I learned that it is important to think carefully and to accept only what we need, not all the advice we got.

 If you are considering the ICC project, I recommend you take part in it. It was different from simple teamwork and I learned a lot through this team project and systematic education. I was also able to learn how to use a variety of online tools and make decisions within a team. Meeting good people in the project was an achievement and an opportunity for me to grow. I think participating in school programs while attending university is one way to enjoy college life. This ICC project encourages people to value and enjoy the process more than the results, so I want you to have the experience of focusing on meaningful processes and have a fruitful relationship with your team members.

 

 This ICC project seems to have had a good influence on the participants in raising their communication skills with other students and in solving social problems. Inha University's ICC project is not only a new educational tool for direct students’ participation, but also an activity that has a significant and positive impact on society. I hope that there are many of you who will be inspired to participate in this project to bring our academic learning back to society.

최승빈  carpediem_oon@inha.edu

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