DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021

Year: 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Pownall, Max John; Brook, Emily Elizabeth; Pashley, Kathryn
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Nottingham Trent University, United Kingdom
Section: Innovation and Creativity in Design and Engineering Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.14
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


2020 has been a challenging experience across Higher Education. Within the Product Design Department at Nottingham Trent University, these challenges have been utilised as opportunities to expand teaching methods and explore alternative options. One of these developments is the integration of Blended Learning to the Product Design degree. In this new approach, there are several aspects of design education that become particularly difficult. This is especially true when Teaching Staff look to employ group ideation methods in an online world. This paper proposes a solution to this challenge, providing an early adopter route into online digital ideation method. It also considers whether this is purely an emergency remote teaching method (Hodges, et al. 2020) or whether there is scope for a meaningful alternative to in person group studio ideation. Collaborative ideation is key to facilitating peer learning amongst 1st year design students, allowing them to build key Designer skills and confidence in sharing with peers. This is a recurrent challenge to overcome when transitioning from school to Higher Education, with the effect of COVID-19 amplifying this. Many 1st year students had been out of education for 6 months before beginning University, rendering this challenge even greater. In response to this, through this paper we propose a new approach to collaboration, actively using the flexibility of online workspaces to create a new online Studio paradigm. H.I.I.T. Using the fundamental principles of Lotus Blossom Ideation (Higgins 1996) approximately 100 students participated in High Intensity Ideation Training (HIIT) using an Online Visual Collaboration Platform (OVCP). Divided into small virtual groups, students completed warm-up tasks, before moving into larger groups to build upon ideas and collaborate with peers. HIIT utilises existing proven approaches but applies them in a new innovative way that the paper suggests increases collaborative ideation. This paper postulates that implementing this method using an online setting is not only possible but presents potential for more collaborative and creative rapid ideation. Utilising OVCP HIIT provides students with a range of creative tools, enhancing and developing strength of communication using colour, text and reference images. Additionally, OVCP levels out ability by encouraging sketching through a computer mouse or trackpad, giving students with lower ability more confidence. Most promising is that students were observed to build upon each other’s ideas, giving feedback, collaborating and developing concepts as teams. HIIT helps to develop active, participatory student-centred learning environments that promotes instructor-student collaborations. (Ouyang, et al. 2020) Existing barriers to learning still exist in this space, with a lower uptake from less engaged students and those who lack confidence. There is also a challenge in ensuring more confident students don’t dominate the space, allowing students to contribute equally. Recommendations can be made for implementing sessions and improving on their quality. Consideration should be given to activity timings and workloads during planning. Findings suggest that the most successful outcomes came from sticking to plan. Upon reflection, sessions are more successful with larger student groups of mixed ability and confidence, promoting collaboration and fostering a free-flowing environment.

Keywords: Ideation, online, pedagogy, collaboration


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