BLENDED LEARNING TECHNOLOGIES IN PRODUCT DESIGN EDUCATION
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Whitehead, Timothy; Buck, Lyndon; Hewitt, Jon
Institution: Aston University, United Kingdom
Section: Research in Design and Engineering Education Practice
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.70
One of the notable consequences of the current COVID-19 pandemic has been a sudden and radical shift to blended learning across all education settings, including higher education. Blended learning, consists of both online and offline teaching and although not new, it has risen to prominence in the last year as students and tutors were forced to rapidly adopt and adapt to new ways of working. Creative subjects such as design education which relies heavily on studio practice, peer-peer learning and hands-on material experimentation has been challenged to adopt these changes. This paper explores the short term changes which have recently been made and assesses the impact for the near and long term future of design pedagogy. The study focuses on three contrasting accredited product design courses in the UK; (1) BSc Product Design, top 40 rank university (2) BA/BSc Product Design, bottom 40 rank university (3) BA/BSc Design Innovation, online provider. The authors reviewed course material, suitability and adaptability for online teaching and final year student outputs over the last 3 years. Including the use of online environments and digital prototyping to try and establish a virtual design studio space. Feedback from students and tutors is included and evaluated. The contrast between intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in students from the 3 different teaching institutions is discussed along with examples of learning and teaching activities and their efficacy. The findings conclude that although some innovative teaching methods are evident, there is a lack of design innovation, peer-peer learning and practised understanding of form and proportion. The impact of which provides a strong need to maintain a physical studio space and enhance the culture of practical and physical working to ensure that the quality of design outputs are maintained. These skills and competencies are vital to instil in students to help them solve problems, and confidently transition to working in professional design studio environments. Recommendations include how we should continue to develop these learning technologies to make up for the loss of physical spaces, hands-on experimentation and shared peer experiences of a typical product design teaching environment.