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Freemen and the future of journalism and interactive media at DisLab

The first collaboration between The Guild and Westminster DisLab, a new initiative at the University of Westminster is drawing to a close with both sides hailing it a real success.  Court Assistant Nicola Manning and Dr David Gyimah the course leader and inspirational mind behind DisLab put real effort in to pulling the two sides together with our initial meeting with students down in Wapping at Cherry Duck Studios.

 

Freemen from the Guild have acted as mentors for MA student mentees to assist in a project as part of their course and from the very beginning it was apparent that both sides were enjoying the interaction, the challenge and the entire experience.

 

Great storytelling is the cornerstone of successful people and how they captivate us.  Engaging stories move people, influence what we buy, and drives businesses. The use of new media, video and other media can help shape the way these stories are crafted and delivered and this is what the course at DisLab is all about.  Ideation, prototyping, building and delivering the project is the challenge the students have and where we as Freemen mentors came in.  Our knowledge of business and all the many mechanics issues that come with the experience we have gained over many years in many different types of business meant that we could assist with the ideation and proofing of the ideas of our student mentees and assist them with some of the critical business thought processes they would need to get up to their project completion and delivery. 

 

What struck me from the outset was just how much the mentors were gaining also.  The thought processes of the students, the challenges to our way of thinking, the erudition and enthusiasm of the mentees was a joy to behold through the three to four sessions we all held with our students. The culmination was a dragons den type session back at Cherry Duck when a panel of mentors were shown all of the projects by the students and given the chance to question and probe afterwards.

 

The breadth and vision in the projects was fantastic.  From gamification highlighting the refugee crisis in Syria to adjusting to life after a successful sports career to beautiful photography projects around Russian women living in London through to British attitudes to inward Chinese investments in property and the issues it raised on both sides.  Too many to mention, very creative and international but all of them incredibly well thought out, heart-felt and constructed and delivered by the students to a very appreciative group of entrepreneurs.  This really was a fantastic group of projects delivered by incredibly creative, thoughtful students. So many of the projects brought with them the passion of personal experience by the students and we all agreed that we felt privileged to have helped them along the way.

 

We are rightly proud of so many of our education and outreach projects, as a young Guild starting out on our modern  livery journey perhaps we are naturally drawn to younger people starting out on their educational, creative and business journeys.  A natural symmetry where those eager to learn and develop are assisted by so many of us eager to share what we have learned on our business journeys.

 

All that being said, I do believe that we mentors learned at least as much from our mentees as they did from us and that can only be a good thing.

 

Finally, as a thank you, the  students arranged for a high quality, creative set of photos of their mentors to be taken in the studios at Westminster University which was an incredibly generous gesture on their part.

Speaking with Dr David Gyimah afterwards he said that as course leader he was incredibly pleased with how things had gone with our first collaboration and I do think, and certainly hope, that this will become a regular opportunity for both sides and I would urge other Freemen to get involved in assisting in future projects moving forwards.

Lee Robertson

Photographs (c) David Freeman, University of Westminster