Melanie Scheer

perMA — Prototyp einer neuen Lernkultur

After graduating from Anhalt University, Mathilde Scholz, Hannes Wilke, Celeste Meisel, Stella Kornfeld and I initiated perMA — a project examining how to build a user-centered and sustainable learning culture within the university’s master program "Intermedia Design". We set impulses to consistently and sustainably develop the way we want to teach and learn within the design department.   

To get an overview of the challenges and potentials within the master program and on campus, we conducted workshops, surveys and interviews to talk to teachers, students and alumni about their experiences and needs.

To create the mindset for an iterative and participative co-creation of one’s own working environment, we applied the design process we were taught in our studies on the study program itself: We hosted weekly workshops to which we invited all stakeholders — professors, students, employees, etc. The single events were each based on a design phase: After identifying needs and constraints on campus and generating possible solutions for those problems, we prototyped, tested, implemented and reviewed some of those ideas in the following weeks. We found out that students like learning best when working in groups, on projects that create real change in their immediate environment, the workshop series itself being an example of that.

perMA believes that collaboration, eye level and constant adjustments are requirements for working sustainably. After each workshop, facilitators as well as participants contributed feedback and written reflections to improve the next session. In the final event, we reflected on our process and learning effect.

In order to make our work transparent and accessible to everyone, we documented the methods and results of each event in our exhibition that was running throughout the semester. We asked visitors to further develop the ideas and also used the exhibition as a research tool.

We think of every class as a designed service that can be improved continuously with each session. Therefore we created the Feedback-Block: A tool to gather feedback by every participant of a seminar at the end of the session. Professors receive feedback on their course structure and can give students feedback on their participation. The feedback is supposed to help understand the seminar’s users in order to better adjust it to their needs. In the long run, this will strengthen the feedback culture within the university's design department. Four iterations of the tool were tested in different classes.

I was primarily responsible for our CI, the design of digital and print media, and the execution of our workshops.

Thanks to crowdfunding and support of the design faculty, we were able to self-publish a book for which I did the editorial design and illustrations. The publication documents and reflects our research, process and results. It shall inspire other individuals to use those methods in order to create change in their institutions. It also contains interviews with experts on topics like learning, curriculum development, Cultural Change or New Work.

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