Distance Education for Design Education: Exploring Opportunities and Challenges Through Speculative Design Method
MFA Design research and development, 2022
This research aims to explore new research areas fertile to innovate in design education in the context of distance education. This work relies on speculative design as the research method to provoke and imagine alternative perspectives. (Dunne & Raby, 2013) This method enables imagining future ways of educating designers. The aim is not to predict precisely or offer a final proposal but rather to present unusual, uncommon, out-of-the-norm strategies that provoke and spark reflection on the future of design education. Although speculation is about imaging the future, understanding the different approaches that have been taken by design education since its inception allows trends to be identified and areas of consistency to become apparent. Likewise, the history of distance education also includes patterns in its development that show essential traits, one being its deep relation to mediatic and technological changes. It is by combining each one of the three aspects of design pedagogy that are the studio, the flexible instructor, and the project-based curriculum with one of the three different sets of technology that are virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence (AI), and community-based technologies, that we create the three contexts fertile to speculation. These combinations create three alternative scenarios that show (1) where (2) who, and (3) what and how we teach design in a non-traditional way while fitting in the spirit of distance education. The year 2035 contexts can be described as the virtual collaborative studio, the flexible artificial instructors, and the new community-based project curriculum. In each of these contexts are imagined speculative designs that are the virtual assignment, the advertisement for an AI-based teaching application, and the design jury. Those speculative designs will be described, then be discussed to reflect on their meaning and the questions they inevitably rise. This thesis suggests new questions to ask to innovate and propose unexpected research areas in design education for its pursuit in a distance education context. Based on this research experience, the thesis proposes a reflection on the possible use of design speculation for design research in general.
Mary Anne Beecher, David Staley, Maria Palazzi