Studying at the Academy of DIY
Over the last couple of years I’ve become increasingly interested in a few Masters programs that offer technology and interaction theory and design along with research and arts practice. I’ve also thought idly about studying sociology, sustainability and urban design too, you know, just because I’m interested in way too much different stuff.
Then lately, as you might have noticed, I’ve become rather interested in friendship and how society and community forms. There’s a little bit of sociology in there and some psychology too. Considering that friendships form in physical space and online, I can then tie in the urban design and digital / media interests too. Representation and recording of relationships? Well that connects the art and design threads too.
At this point, it seems like a big ask to find a graduate program that allows me to explore all the above (and more) without paying vast sums of money and moving location yet again. So, I’m going to try and create my own part-time, unofficial ‘Masters’ program right here in Berlin.
I’m starting on a intensive course in the German language come January, so I’ll actually get some formal learning too.
After those two immediately available topics, I’m in need of some direction, so if you have answers to any of the following questions, please comment away:
What else should I learn?
So I’ve got electronics and German organised, but what else should I specifically learn? I’d love to learn everything in the world including lo-fi stuff like permaculture, bookbinding, letterpress, pattern drafting, guitar playing, cheesemaking and welding. One of the major appeals a traditional Masters program has for me, is exactly that, it’s a program which focuses my attention in an orderly and logical manner.
How should I organise this study?
Once again, we come to focus: I don’t want to just read about ‘stuff’, I want some direction and some way to practically output what I learn. Ultimately, I’d like to have a portfolio of work and writing to use for applications and further academic involvement which would add more letters after my name.
- Should I try to write blog posts / essays about specific topics?
- After a while should I try to centre this research around a specific topic for a more targeted document a.k.a. a thesis?
- When learning about practical subjects such as electronics, should I work to make objects that solve particular problems?
- How do I order the sequence of what I learn so as to get the most out of the experience? That is, how do I prevent myself from running before I’ve learnt to walk?
Who and what do I learn from?
Once I’ve worked out what I want to learn, where do I learn this stuff from? There are some great resources out there for self directed learning: on the internet, in books and from informative radio programs. However, since I’m a person, not a machine, I want learning experiences, not just information, I want interaction, questions answered and hopefully some mentoring.
I already know that the School of Everything, Couch Surfing University, Travelling School of Life, and BarCamps are great ways to meet people interested in the same things. Sadly, not everyone who has something to teach is signed up for these resources yet. So, where do I find out about swell people who like to teach the stuff I want to learn? Do you know of any relevant workshops and conferences?*
How do I share my knowledge?
Besides a sense of direction and experienced teachers, the other core thing that institutional study has over just learning, is interaction and a shared experience with peers.
While I’m happy to hear about online environments to interact with people who are interested in learning the same thing, I’d really like to meet up with fellow ‘students’ in the real world. Once again the School of Everything and BarCamps are an ideal environment for making those connections, but I’d love to hear of those which are Berlin focused.
How do I afford this?
While I may not be paying for course fees, I’m still going to have some outgoings for books and equipment. Also, university attendance also makes it easier to get cheaper movie tickets, and funding for conferences etc. Besides the obvious action of getting some work here in Berlin, how do I make my DIYMasters financially viable, particularly in the longer term?
Which leads to my final question:
How do I make the effort worth it?
Apart from Self-Improvement, the reason that I want to study the topics I’m interested in is because I’d love to get paid to think, play and talk/write about those concepts all the time. At the moment I have two Bachelors degrees, experience working in video games, e-learning and bartending and a smattering of knowledge about the topics I’m actually interested in long-term involvement with.
How do I give myself a practical and theoretical grounding that will help me be recognised as someone who knows and creatively works around the issues of friendship and society in a technological, globablised urban environment?
In the long run, how do I make my DIYMasters a foundation for an interesting job or an actual funded Masters or PhD?
I guess a side effect of actively writing about intending to study a DIYMasters is that self directed learning with recognisable outcomes becomes part of the learning and research project itself. As such, I’ll be trying to tag relevant information online (initially within delicious) with DIYMasters. Feel free to join in the fun.
*In or near Berlin and for cheap or free.