Improving Design Education by International Collaboration, Traditional Skillsets, Discovery and Ubiquitous Learning

By Mauricio Novoa.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper reports on a project primarily run from a third year industrial design studio unit
at University of Western Sydney that later benchmarked Australian students with counterparts elsewhere
in Canada and Chile. Other groups have also expressed interest in the project. The project focused
on challenges to Design and its Education in mainly four areas. Firstly, how to achieve intended
learning outcomes confronted with issues of globalization. Second, the challenge to University as
gatekeeper of professional standards. Then, issues about research on teaching and learning, new
methodologies and process relating to design, manufacturing, implementation and delivery of products
and services. Finally, the development of new distributed dynamics of work and production. Specifically,
this paper narrates on the dilemma between traditional and new means for education and profession,
collaboration towards new discourses and learning depending on understanding and use of technology
either by students or teaching staff (i.e. Gen Y vs Baby Boomers; static vs ubiquitous lifestyle and
learning, etc). Aware of society’s constant change, students were given an inclusive feel of professional
life with access to industrial experts and political authorities on both continents, state of the art rapid
prototyping and modeling facilities, videoconferencing, Skype, blogs, etc. The project pursued the
creation of a ‘socio-technical collaboration’ brought about by concepts of ‘working together apart’,
‘role playing’, ‘authorship’, ‘ownership’ and ‘intellectual capital’ based on group and self evaluation
and marking. Students’ work has been tailor made to fit each brief according to criterion-referenced
approach with moderation, assessment and feedback by peer, blind, group and lecturers reviews. Ultimately,
the goal pursued was total self-assessment and marking. Qualitative findings have been
achieved through the application of action research methods. Changing the balance of traditional
design education has opened the potential for a participatory culture and deeper democracy that will
hopefully keep growing both new synaesthetic meaning-making and life long learning skills that fit
with current society and industry requirements.

Keywords: Design Education, Design Innovation, Co-Design, Project Based Learning, CDIO Syllabus, Inclusive Education, Collaborative Learning, Distributed Design, Participatory Culture, Product Life Cycle Management, Learning through New Technologies, Ubiquitous Computing, Multimodality, Blurring the Boundaries of Formal and Informal Learning, Transformative Pedagogy

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 4, Issue 6, pp.23-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.936MB).

Mauricio Novoa

Lecturer / Postgraduate ResearchER, School of Engineering, University of Western Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia

I am a designer and academic with more than 28 years experience in the industry from product to indutrial, architecture, advertising, communications and marketing (2D, 3D and 4D time based, events and moving image). Rising from hands on apprentice to reach Design Creative Direction and Management roles, I have had the opportunity to look after a varied portfolio from Blue Chip to SME clients in Australia and abroad. Some highlights are in the areas of technological innovation (electronic, construction, medical and scientific), durable and fast moving consumer goods, appliances, online and elearning solutions. As an academic for the last five years, I draw on my professional experience with especial interest on technological developments including their influence on society and culture, design for the other 90%, human environments, user centred design and sustainability. I am a PhD candidate at UWS Centre for Cultural Research (Globalisation and Cultural Economy). I hold a Master Degree in Design from University of Technology Sydney, Australia. Previously I obtained a Bachelor Degree in Visual Arts from Catholic University of Chile. My work as an artist has been exhibited nationally and internationally as early as in the touring exhibition “Chilean Artists of the 20th Century”, Chile, South America (1984) and also later in Australia as in “The Boundary Rider: 9th Biennale of Sydney” (1992/93) and its subsequent touring exhibitions.


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