It is universally acknowledged that as a discipline, design is distinctly different from the study of the humanities or science. The study of design involves creative explorations and the design process involves the three activities of analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Over the past several decades, design curricula, design pedagogy and the teaching-learning methodologies have evolved from the illustrious traditions of the Bauhaus and the Ulm schools of design education. There has been a conscious attempt on the part of many design institutions and universities across the globe to redefine their teaching and learning methodologies to meet the requirements of new design disciplines powered by ubiquitous technologies, growing interest in collaborative practices, and increasing awareness of the need to preserve the local while embracing the global.
With the changing global paradigms, the role of the designer is changing from that of a creative artist to that of a strategic innovator. In this context, not just the design curricula, but the traditional methods of teaching/learning need to be re-oriented and complemented with new approaches with a view to synthesise the best of tradition and modernity. The papers included in this section throw light on the initiatives taken by some design institutions and universities to evolve teaching/learning methodologies for some of the design disciplines. Jack Ingram and Marie Jesfioutine of Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, UK, for instance, describe the evolution of a Product Design MA in which knowledge and skills that students bring with them are encouraged through “carefully specified” educational technology. They make a case for a learning rather than learner-centred approach to design education. Lindsay Marshall and Lester Meachem of School of Art & Design, University of Wolverhampton, UK, investigate the way software is taught in relation to other aspects of design education, and address how students can become sufficiently conversant with appropriate software in the context of developing their individual creativity. Lawrence Zeegen of University of Brighton, Brighton, UK, expresses fears that students are increasingly looked upon as “clients” and that too many courses in design are trapped in stranglehold of assessment regulations and inflexible modular structures, offering methodologies and systems that work against and hinder rather than encourage and support the flow of creativity.
These and the other papers included in this section make a strong case for design education to adopt teaching/learning mechanisms that enable student designers to break boundaries, challenge rules and attempt new methods and take risks while solving complex design problems.