December 19, 2023
Loftwork has started the second year of the Project-Based Learning program initiated last year in collaboration with National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) and Atelier Future. From Summer 2023, Loftwork has continued to focus on exploring the theme of “breakthroughs” at NCKU by launching an expanded version of the Future Dynamic Program (FDP). One of the main goals of this program is to guide students in exploring solutions to existing problems by leveraging innovative thinking and technology.
The purpose of Future Dynamic Program 2023 is to provide students with new ways of learning that foster their proactive thinking abilities while using practical experiences to enable students to mold their own ideal future.Building upon the existing connections already established by Loftwork in Taiwan and Japan, this year’s program also incorporates a Southeast Asian perspective, expanding the program from a single semester to three semesters. After kicking off the program with the summer 2023 Regeneration Design Studio, the XR Campus 2.0 and Creative Leadership Development Program followed in the fall. The program will conclude with the Sustainability in Action Program in the spring, 2024.
This year’s Creative Leadership Development Program focused on the topic of developing a ‘Fundamental Understanding of Artificial Intelligence.’ AI and the future development of humans are not necessarily contradictory. Rather than considering the possibility of AI taking over human jobs, what deserves attention is the perspective of ‘collaboration.’ This year’s Future Program encourages working with AI actively in a creative way, embracing the idea of AI as a positive partner for the future.
In this context, we guided students to actively understand the advantages, limitations, and ethical concepts of AI. Through case studies, we introduced AI functions such as algorithms in social media and automation in home appliances. With practical exercises, students learned about prompting and practiced communication with AI, including creating histories through it.
In this year’s program, Kelsie Stewart (FabCafe CCO), Kalaya Kovidvisith (FabCafe Bangkok Co-Founder, FABLAB Thailand General Manager), and Tim Wong (Loftwork Taiwan Co-Founder) were invited as instructors to the NCKU students. Throughout the program, they guided students in developing skills such as critical thinking, communication through exercises in managing conflict, supporting others, and discovering the potential of their own leadership abilities.
At the end of the program, the students, now equipped with specialized knowledge and leadership communication skills, were divided into two work teams. Within these teams, the students took on the challenge of solving real-world social issues and pushed themselves to demonstrate their core values beyond simply understanding the concept of what is a “Minimum Viable Product/Service”.
Japanese brand MiYO ORGANIC–which was established in 2020 and, like Atelier Future, is committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)–joined as a program partner. After realizing the impact disposable toothbrushes have on the environment during a hotel stay, founder Miyo Yamamoto established her brand to create environmentally conscious products, like bamboo toothbrushes and paper toothpaste. In this collaboration, the student teams’ challenge was to leverage artificial intelligence to expand the brand’s market share and support its expansion into Southeast Asia.
Founded in 2014 by Ada Chirapaisarnkul, Taejai is a socially and environmentally conscious crowdfunding platform whose mission is to change the business landscape in Thailand. Over the years, Taejai has raised over 22 million baht in funding for non-profit organizations and social enterprises. Based on the techniques of sociologist Mark Smith, members of the Taejai team have analyzed donor personalities by using established social media profiling to propose new strategies.
This year’s Creative Leadership Development Program took place over nine weeks. Through a combination of knowledge-based learning, fieldwork carried out in the program’s second stage, brainstorming, and practical exercises, students were able to immerse themselves in the industry mindset and leverage design-thinking tools through teamwork.
Although there was still untapped potential in the use of AI tools due to the relatively short duration of the program, the ideas presented by the two student teams received high praise from both the instructors and company founders.
Team project: GOTCHA MIYO（For MiYO ORGANIC）
The students on the MiYO ORGANIC team first researched the current eco-friendly habits among Taiwanese people, such as the use of eco-bags and beverage carriers. To encourage more people to use MiYO ORGANIC products and help them understand the company’s environmentally sustainable mission, they looked at current environmental practices in people’s daily lives and sought to find a more enjoyable way to instill eco-consciousness.
Hoping to encourage interaction between consumers and the brand, the team put a Gachapon–a capsule toy vending machine–on campus. By inserting a plastic bottle cap, users could receive a sample of MiYO ORGANIC’s toothpaste paper. This Gachapon not only increased product awareness but also promoted environmental consciousness by providing users with a unique, exciting experience. Additionally, by utilizing seed paper technology, the team even developed new product packaging, elevating environmental protection beyond just a slogan.
Kelsie (FabCafe COO): I think that the idea of putting MiYO ORGANIC products in a Gachapon is fantastic and could really lead to increasing brand awareness on campus. The team’s idea of using seed paper is something that seems like it could evolve into a B2B business model that could be applied to working with hotels.
Miyo (Founder of MiYO ORGANIC): During the students’ presentation, not only did I feel their creativity and enthusiasm, but was also inspired in many ways. For example, I reconsidered how I could interact with customers and could develop new policies unique to Taiwan. I am really impressed by the effort and time invested by all the team members.
To address overlooked issues in crowdfunding, the student team began by conducting interviews with general users and experts in related fields to learn about donation habits. Analyzing the results revealed that–excluding online payment–Baby Boomers and members of Generation X were the most influential and active donation groups so the project’s target group was set to individuals aged 45 to 65.
After identifying the target group, the students summarized several structural issues with the website. Namely, they identified the lengthy texts and inefficient design choices as not being suited for the middle-aged and elderly, especially in terms of their vision. By using AI tools, the students proposed two solutions to optimize the website. The first solution involved making the fundraising projects more appealing by converting the long text into a video format. The second solution aimed to provide users with real-time support and enhance the overall functionality of the website by implementing a chatbot. While developing the solutions, the team continuously adjusted the direction of the project while leveraging AI technology.
Kalaya (FabCafe Bangkok Co-Founder, FABLAB Thailand General Manager): I applaud the team for taking the initiative to understand the visual constraints that many middle-aged and elderly people face, for example, the challenge for them to read long paragraphs. Using AI to convert text to video, therefore making it easier for users to understand the content, is a great step towards improving user comprehension.
Kelsie (FabCafe COO): Through this project, the students learned about the ethical challenges associated with using artificial intelligence. Moving forward, there may be more opportunities to expand our collaborations to enhance the reliability and impact of these videos.
Over the past two years of the program, Loftwork and Atelier Future have been exploring new learning methods, increasing collaboration with external resources and industries, and using creative thinking to bring new stimuli to Taiwan’s unique education methods. This year, by collaborating with startups in Japan and Thailand, Loftwork and Atelier Future have aimed to broaden students’ perspectives, foster freeform creative leadership, and expand the possibilities of the next generation’s visions for the future.
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