The Idea Forum

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Jingming Sun Newcastle

As a school focuses on innovation, it should be well designed to become an idea factory. However, in the current school life, there is a lack of communication between students and staffs. In order to improve this, I designed an Idea Room together with an Idea Forum for students and staffs to communicate with each other and solve problems. This project will be really helpful in enhancing the understanding and communication between students and school staffs. It will help students with solving some problems exist in their daily lives and studies.

In order to introduce the design, this essay will first show the vision designs of the Idea Room and the Idea Forum, namely the design drawings of them. They are intuitionistic and easy to understand (Ching and Juroszek, 2010). Combining with the vision designs, it will then illustrate how will the Idea Room and the Idea Forum work separately. Every step will be explained in these two parts. Following that, it will analyse some potential risks and challenges in this project. At last, the conclusion of this project will be given in the end.

  • How will the Idea Room work?

    I plan to apply for using a large seminar room in Newcastle University Business School to build the Idea Room. There should be a large space that can accommodate a lot of people. In the front of the room, there will be a long meeting table with chairs. Two university staffs will sit in the upside and downside of the table, they are responsible for organizing the meetings. Other seats in the Idea Room are for students. In front of the meeting table, there will be two big screens, which will connect with the staffs’ computers and show their screens. In the back of the room, three rows of normal desks and chairs will be there. Besides, there will also be two resting areas in the left and right sides of the Idea Room, two sofas in the left and one round table in the right. People can sit there during the break, chat with others or have a cup of coffee.

    Every working day, the staffs will set the Topic of Today. The topic can be everything about the problems that students encountered in their living or learning, and it is voted by students via the Idea Forum that will be introduced in detail in the next part. The staffs will write down the Topic of Today on a paper and stick the paper on the main door of the room in the morning. Every student who see the topic and is interested in the topic can take part in the discussion in the afternoon. Students who arrive early and have strong interest of the topic can choose the seats around the long meeting table. Others will sit in the back seats behind the meeting table. All the students can present their opinions freely wherever they sit. The meeting will start at 3 pm on every working day, and it will last for an hour and a half including a ten-minute break.

    To begin with, the comperes namely the two staffs will speak the rules of discussion to the participants, and then they will introduce the Topic of Today briefly. Normally, the topic is about solving a specific problem exists in students’ lives or studies. After that, the discussion will begin. Every student can present his or her opinions freely. The comperes need to listen carefully and write down the keywords of every student’s speech on their computers and display the contents on the screens to let every people see clearly. 40 minutes later, there will be a ten-minute break. Students can relax in the resting areas of the Idea Room during the break. After the break, there will be another 40 minutes for students to give any comments to those ideas proposed before. Debates may happen in this part, the comperes should maintain the order in the room and guide the discussion. They also need to record the comments on their computers and show them to the students. In the end, the comperes will thank for the students’ attendance and remind them to check the updates on the Idea Forum in the evening.

    How will the Idea Forum work?

    The Idea Forum is the other part of this project. It is a new method to improve the communication between students and staffs. Meanwhile, it is also a supplement for the Idea Room. The Idea Forum will use the information system management to build a platform for communication. The vision design shows above is the index page of the Idea Forum. I made the forum by PHP Bulletin Board, which is an Internet forum package written in the PHP scripting language (MacIntyre et al., 2011). At the top of the homepage, it is the title and subtitle. Below them, there is a navigation bar contains the functions of Home, FAQ, Search and other frequently used buttons. The main part of the homepage is the three categories and the six sub-forums. The first category is “Topic of Today”. It consists of two sub-forums, “Voting – Topic of Today” and “Minutes of the meeting”. The second category is “Questions & Answers”, which consists of “All about living”, “All about learning” and “All about others” these three sub-forums. The last category is “Chatting Zone”. There is only a “Chatting Zone” sub-forum in it. At the bottom of the page, there are some general statistics of the forum.

    We will link our database with the university’s database in order to get the information of the students who are studying in Newcastle University Business School (Özsu and Valduriez, 2011). All the students can login in the Idea Forum using their username and password of their university account. We will then encourage them to get actively involved in the discussion every day. The discussions will be mainly held in the “Questions & Answers” category. Every student who has problems about living, learning or others can put forward them in the corresponding sub-forum. And then every people can reply to the topic with giving his or her ideas of the problems. The moderators of these three sub-forums are responsible for selecting the most popular topics for each day, and then send them to the moderator of “Voting – Topic of Today” sub-forum. Following that, the moderator of “Voting – Topic of Today” will initiate a new voting topic named ”Topic of xx/xx/2014”. All the options are from the most popular topics students put forward in the “Questions & Answers” category. After that, students can view and vote the topic they are most interested in. At last the topic with the most votes will become the Topic of Today, and will be stuck on the main door of the Idea Room.

    There is another sub-forum in the “Topic of Today” category called “Minutes of the meeting”. As the name implies, all the record of the meeting will be uploaded to this sub-forum. After the meeting held in the Idea Room, the comperes will provide the record of the meeting to the moderator of “Minutes of the meeting”, and then the moderator will create a new topic in “Minutes of the meeting” named “Minutes of xx/xx/2014”. All the members can visit the topic and view the minutes of today’s meeting. And those students who did not come to the meeting can still make comments to the topic by replying the topic. “Chatting zone” is the last sub-forum located in the bottom of the index page. The aim of this part is to provide a place for the forum members to chat freely. Any topic that does not belong to the categories above can be posted here. This sub-forum can increase the Idea Forum’s popularity. It is a free platform for students and school staffs to communicate with each other. But the moderator of this sub-forum should take on more work on managing the meaningless and improper topics and replies (Phillips, 2012).

    Potential risks and challenges analysis

    There are several potential risks and challenges in this project. In terms of the Idea Room, first of all, there are not many large rooms in the Newcastle University Business School and there are many lectures in Business School every day. So it may be not easy to get permission to use such a large room every day as the Idea Room. However, I will try my best to apply for this. If the Business School can not provide a fixed room for me, it is acceptable to use different rooms every day. Depending on the available rooms, I will choose a bigger one as today’s Idea Room. And then the staffs will stick a notice on the school gate to tell students which room today’s Idea Room is as well as the Topic of Today. Secondly, it may be difficult to attract many students to take part in the meetings. Students have a lot of lectures and assignments. They are quite busy for their studying. Therefore, there may not be many students join the discussion in the Idea Room sometimes. To solve this problem, free coffee will be provided in the Idea Room to encourage more students to get involved in the discussion every day.

    As for the Idea Forum, there may be a same challenge as the Idea Room. It will be difficult to let many students use the forum. It is obvious that there will not be enough topics in the “Questions & Answers” category without a high degree of participation. It will further cause the lack of opinions in the voting and all the rest parts will be affected. In order to solve this problem, there are two methods. In the first place, I will ask Newcastle University Business School to put the link of the Idea Forum on its official website. It is for the sake of telling students there is an Idea Forum and attracting more users. In the second place, I intend to add some interesting factors into the Idea Forum such as the medal, points, level and some daily tasks (Mason, 2011). These small factors will help the forum with getting more active users.


    In conclusion, my design is a project aims to solve problems for students who are studying in Newcastle University Business School. It contains two parts, the Idea Room and the Idea Forum. These two parts work together to help students with solving their problems. While although there are several potential risks and challenges exist in both the Idea Room and the Idea Forum, they can be prevented via some methods. I believe this work will be a good design welcomed by students.


    Brown, J.D., Day, A.M., Taylor, S.R., Tomalin, L.E., Morgan, B.A. and Veal, E.A. (2013) ‘Newcastle University ePrints’.
  • Ching, F. and Juroszek, S.P. (2010) Design drawing. 2nd edn. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  • MacIntyre, P., Danchilla, B. and Gogala, M. (2011) Pro PHP programming. Apress : Distributed by Springer Science+Business Media,. Available at:
  • Mason, R.B. (2011) ‘Student Engagement with, and Participation in, an e-Forum’, Journal of Educational Technology & Society, 14(2).
  • Özsu, M.T. and Valduriez, P. (2011) Principles of distributed database systems. Springer.
  • Phillips, S. (2012) ‘Rationale for the Forum’, THERAPEUTIC ADVICE, p. 9.