I had the privilege to attend the final presentation of MediaLAB Amsterdam students recently.

The message from students and staff is clear: there is immense value in cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural team-based learning. Cross-ed rules!

It is inspiring and gratifying to see cross-ed being done as a matter of course, not as some special one-off experimental project.

When I was doing my design degree too many years ago now, trying to get any cross-disciplinary projects happening was a massive uphill battle; let alone projects involving real industry clients, students from different year groups and disciplines, and in different countries!

Some advantages of cross-ed lessons straight from the exhibition floor:

  • Cross-ed opens access to different frameworks and tools from other professions. This is the first time I saw psychotherapy tools used in the design process. FTW!
  • Cross-ed means a design student gets to see her design realised by a programmer on the team. Similarly, the programmer gets to work on a real design. And all this in the context of a real-world project with real-world constraints.
  • Cross-ed is a win win for both industry and students. Industry get research, insights and fresh thinking. Students get a solid mouthful of the real world.
  • Cross-ed reveals how applicable design process problem-solving is imminently applicable across different fields: products, infographics, user interfaces, services, urban design and citizen engagement.


The MediaLAB is actively doing research and development in design process, and have a considered, well-articulated, and SCRUM-able process they actively work with.

Thank you Marco van Hout for showing me around.