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: Elaver, Richard Anthony
Series: E&PDE
Institution: Appalachian State University, United States of America
Section: Meeting 21st Century Challenges in Further and Higher Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.73
ISBN: 978-1-912254-14-9


Designers tend to communicate through sketches. Yet our online teaching environments are typically linear structures, based on databases, with limited visual expression. Is it possible to have an online ‘textbook’ for Product Design that is illustrative in style, non-linear in organization, intuitive, and visually compelling? At E&PDE 2020, I presented a visual paper culminating in a single graphic that attempted to depict the whole of the Product Design field. This was based on an Introduction to Product Design course I developed and taught for the past decade. In 2020, that course shifted to an online class, and like so many instructors, the content from the live class was simply redirected to an online environment. It has become clear that there are better strategies for teaching online, rooted in the digital environment, and the fluidity and flexibility it provides. Based on feedback from colleagues in the 2020 E&PDE conference, the current goal is to make the illustration from the 2020 visual paper into an interactive graphic interface. More directly, I propose making it the landing page for a new type of online course, in which each graphic element is a dynamic link to the content related to that subject. In this model, the class content is more organically presented, as students navigate through interlinked content, always returning to the central graphic as the landing page. Students will move at their own pace, and assessment will be competency-based. To do this well would be a multi-year project. The purpose of this current visual paper is to explore the flow of that information through illustrations, as a simulation of the online experience. This is intended to be a first draft of one section of the class, covering one of the six key functions in the radial arrangement of the main graphic. This paper will explore how to graphically change the hierarchy of content being explored, how to show interconnections to related content that may (or may not) be adjacent to the selected topic, how to visually incorporate hyperlinked content, and how to maintain the same illustrative visual language throughout the online experience.

Keywords: Online education, visual interface


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