Giving students a voice in helping to shape the way teaching is done at Mainz University of Applied Sciences is the objective of the SMILE Ideas Competition for Students, which Mainz University of Applied Sciences is holding for the third time this year. SMILE stands for Studierende mit Ideen für die Lehre, which translates as 'Students with Teaching Ideas'. The contest seeks ideas that offer a concrete solution to an existing problem or introduce an innovation to the university.
Studying in the age of corona means that many activities that previously took place in person have to be transferred to the online realm. This entails restrictions, but also opens up new opportunities. As part of this year's SMILE competition, all students were called upon to develop ideas on how campus life at Mainz University of Applied Sciences can be creatively shaped even under the current conditions. The specific challenges were as follows:
- What offerings should be created to better connect students online or in person?
- How can we develop a stronger sense of community at Mainz University of Applied Sciences?
- How can campus life be improved in online or face-to-face form?
The ideas submitted did not have to be limited to the online realm; projects based on an in-person or hybrid situation could also be submitted.
Over the last weeks, ten finalists developed specific proposals for solutions from initial ideas. A six-member interdisciplinary jury comprising both professors and students has now selected three winners, who were announced at an online awards ceremony on December 15.
1st place (1,000 Euro)
How to: Studi Demokratie (Student Democracy)
School of Design, Communication Design
- Idea / vision: By means of a network meeting and supplementary materials, students learn specifically which committees they can participate in, who the contacts are, and what the tasks of the committees are.
- Aim / focus: To make the university's democratic student structures more visible, to strengthen networking and social cohesion
- Implementation: Widely advertised online network meeting in one morning; intensive exchange and networking in breakout rooms
The jury found the idea to be an important educational and informational component to raise awareness of existing structures. In addition, the idea acts as an enabler to bring the views, needs and visions of the student body into the structuring of university life in the long term. In this respect, it also greatly benefits students through the indirect effects and developments that emerge.
2nd place (500 Euro)
Interdisciplinary projects and modules
School of Business, Business Administration
- Idee / vision: Interdisciplinary events and projects in the curriculum, some as voluntary advanced education programs, some integrated as ECTS credits
- Aim / focus: Strengthening professional exchange between the university's schools and locations, "daring to broaden our horizons"
- Implementation: Focusing on points of convergence in terms of content and subject matter
The jury particularly liked the idea of using existing synergies, interlinking the know-how of the different degree programs so as to build bridges to the otherschools and departments at the university, networking them with each other and bringing them closer together.
3rd place (300 Euro)
School of Engineering, Architecture
- Idea / vision: Physical space as exhibition, event and meeting place
- Aim / focus: To present and initiate existing and new projects; to reinforce exchange outside the online realm
- Implementation: Dedicated pavilion, located on the university campus, for example
Since the campus currently seems quite anonymous and empty and because life here will first have to find its bearings again after the pandemic, the idea of strengthening togetherness by providing a versatile space was very well received. Despite the likely very costly and complex realization and organization of such a space, the jury believes that a workstation market would significantly enhance and shape campus life.