What is co-creation?

The basic principle of co-creation is the process of creating new policy and new services with people, rather than for people. Ergo, co-creation must involve both “co” (sharing leadership) and “creative” (not only improving on the same efforts but also initiating new ventures). This type of innovation in higher education, through participation and involvement of the professional field, is not evident but can produce impressive results. Co-creative processes are always unique; they depend on the participating parties and their motivations. In a co-creation process, it is paramount to connect the creativity or ensure that the creativity is connected on the basis of sharing ideas. This will foster continuous development during the co-creation process (Gouillart & Hallett, 2015). Co-creation extends beyond collaboration, in the sense that the contributions of users and other stakeholders to the process are not limited to providing input: they are also actively participating in the creative process.

Definition of co-creation according to Bryan R. Rill and Matti M. Hämäläinen (Rill & Hämäläinen, 2018):

Cocreatie is een creatief proces dat gebruikmaakt van het collectieve potentieel van groepen om inzichten en innovatie te genereren.

Co-creation is a creative process that harnesses the collective potential of groups in order to generate insights and innovation.

In concrete terms, co-creation is a process in which teams of diverse stakeholders are actively engaged in a mutually reinforcing activity of collective creativity with experiential and practical outcomes.

Within the framework of this report, co-creation with the professional field can involve various levels and pertain to all the core tasks of higher education:

  1. Co-creation of policy at the macro, meso or micro level: partners from the professional field assume the roles of forum members at various levels (e.g., the institutional level, field of study, programme).
  2. Co-creation of a curriculum or components thereof: a higher education establishment/programme and the professional field collectively substantiate authentic programme components; learning, research, service, and artistic activities; working formats; evaluation formats that encourage active learning and prepare students for the professional field. Representatives of the professional field take on the roles of advisor/hands-on expert, lecturer/teacher, facilitator/supervisor, and/or evaluator.
  3. Co-creation focused on an urgent issue in the professional field: both the professional field and students participate in the co-creation process. Such forms of co-creation are intended to generate a product relevant to the professional field. Students and also, ideally, the professional field reinforce their expertise and skills in the process. Teachers, researchers, and other parties involved can take on one of the roles listed under (2) or assume the role of participant.

This report features examples of all three levels. Most of the examples are linked to (2) and (3), because in many higher education establishments, (1) is already common practice and fostering the generic quality of education.

Exploring existing practices with the participating higher education establishments has produced several examples of real co-creation in the strict sense of the word. At the same time, it has led to the insight that additional forms of far-reaching collaboration exist, which do not quite meet the definition, yet are sufficiently valuable to include in this analysis because they create true added value or because they provide a firm basis for implementing a co-creation process.

Other forms of collaboration with the professional field are not covered in this report. Such forms involve practices that have evolved into standard procedures on account of the professional orientation of programmes or on account of the connection between education and actual practice, e.g., within the framework of applied research. Examples include professional field committees and advisory boards; work placements; the provision of authentic cases; involving representatives of the professional field as guest lecturers; the organisation of company visits; and the participation of the professional field in quality assurance processes.

THE substantiation of the co-creation concept by various universities of applied sciences