With Miami University’s announcement to postpone the Spring 2020 commencement ceremony, how might Miami students regain autonomy and reclaim their graduation experience?

Our hope is to co-create an upbeat and memorable experience with members of the Miami class of 2020 that reframes this important time in graduates’ lives.

Graduates deserve to have a say in the experiences that shape this cultural rite of passage.

Although our workshop cannot replace commencement, it is a small nod in the direction of empowering students to make something meaningful at this particular time and place in their personal and collective histories.

Goals

The #MiamiMakes2020 virtual collaging workshop has two distinct goals:

  1. Facilitate students’ creation of a collage that encapsulates their time at Miami University and the relationships that define their experience
  2. Facilitate students’ sharing of their collage with friends, family, and instructors via a living thank-you card that extends the use of the collage into social contexts

Collaboration

For this project, we are collaborating with Sarah Nagle, Creation and Innovation Services Librarian at the Miami University Makerspace. Sarah’s extensive experience with planning and executing crafting events that encourage participation from students with various skill sets has been invaluable to this project.

Process

We have designed both synchronous and asynchronous workshops to accommodate different schedules and needs. For both options, we have collaborated with Sarah Nagle to publish a LibGuide with detailed instructions and a materials list that walks participants through each step of the process.

Additionally, the LibGuide will be shared as a resource with the Miami University Student Foundation and the Miami University Alumni Association.

Recruitment

A promotional video was created to recruit workshop participants.

Miami Libraries promotion on Twitter.

a screenshot from instagram

Sample screen from Instagram story promoting synchronous and asynchronous workshops
a screenshot from an online class

Class of 2020 Virtual Commencement Experience Canvas announcement
promoting asynchronous workshop

Knowledge

Students will actively consider the people, items, and experiences that have shaped their time at Miami. They will both commemorate their Miami journey in a way that’s meaningful to them and thank the people who helped them along the way.

By participating in our workshop, students will understand these concepts:

  • Who and what matter to them about their time at Miami
  • How to depict that meaning through objects they assemble and transform
  • How to share their collage with their social circles

To arrive at this knowledge, students will reflect on these questions:

  • What objects or events stand out in my mind as representative of my time at Miami?
  • What relationships are the most meaningful to me as a Miami student?
  • How have those relationships contributed to my experience at Miami?

Through this process, students will gain competency in these areas:

  • Coming to terms with missing out on a traditional graduation ceremony
  • Co-creating their own experiences that redefine commencement
  • Celebrating their academic successes

This workshop will help students develop these values:

  • Recognition of their time at Miami
  • Acknowledgement of the things that represent the Miami experience to them
  • Gratitude for the relationships that helped them get where they are today

Outcomes

By participating in the workshop, students will co-create something meaningful to them that encapsulates their time at Miami.

Even if students don’t leave the workshop with a completed collage, their participation in the workshop will help stimulate their creativity and empower them to take charge of their own experiences rather than feeling victimized by overwhelming and uncontrollable circumstances.

In the end, students will photograph and share their collage with the people who impacted their Miami experience.

This living thank-you card will continue to remind friends, family, and instructors of the important role they played in students’ stories here at Miami.

Personas

a persona sheet
a persona sheet

Storyboards

a storyboard
a storyboard

Experience Maps

an experience map
an experience map

Extensions

We built this project with the intention of extending its use into other experience design scenes that will give people greater access to the experiences they want to have.

For example, in addition to virtual graduation parties, our creative workshop concept could apply to virtual wedding parties, virtual birthday parties, and virtual anniversary parties. The following screens detail what one application (a virtual wedding party) might look like.

a persona sheet
an experience map
a storyboard

Acknowledgements

We wish to thank Sarah Nagle of the Miami University Libraries for the extensive time and effort she put into helping us plan and execute the #MiamiMakes2020 workshop; Melissa Conradie of Conradie Event Design for her candid account of her experience and open sharing of her expertise; and all the Miami University 2020 graduates who are bravely entering a new world.