Closing the Gap: Flexible and Dynamic Design Education to Better Prepare Digital Media Design Students for Professional Practice

By Katja Fleischmann.

Published by The Design Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The dynamic and fast changing nature of digital media presents many challenges for design professionals as well as for design educators. Managing the increasing complexity of technology is one of them. Surprisingly, the digital media design industry’s switch to multidisciplinary collaborative teamwork as a response to the increasing complexity of technology has been rarely anticipated by higher digital media design education perhaps because subject ‘silos’ make collaboration more difficult. Major research into the employability of graduates from design disciplines in the United Kingdom (UK) and Australia revealed that employers are concerned about the preparedness of undergraduate digital media design students when entering the profession. The research highlighted the lack of professional skills and soft skills such as verbal communication of ideas and teamwork. Clearly it is time to respond to the widening gap between professional practice and design education.

Currently under development and testing at an Australian university is a new learning and teaching model, referred to as the POOL Model. This new model is a multidisciplinary system of interdependent collaboration and expertise exchange across university, industry and community sectors. The Pool Model is based on existing resources and implemented as an integral part of the curriculum at undergraduate level in order to prepare students for collaborative multidisciplinary practice and meaningful careers in industry. This paper describes the development and implementation of an alternative learning and teaching model. The rational for the development of the model is described and its evaluation through the application of accepted research principles and methodologies.

Keywords: Digital Media Design Education, Learning and Teaching Model, Learning and Teaching Pool, Multidisciplinary Collaboration, Design Education

Design Principles and Practices: An International Journal, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.213-224. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.073MB).

Dr. Katja Fleischmann

Senior Lecturer, School of Creative Arts, Faculty of Law, Business and Creative Arts, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Katja Fleischmann is a digital media design and new media arts educator at the School of Creative Arts at James Cook University, Australia. Her international experience as designer and educator informs her current research interest: Managing the Increasing Complexity of Technology in Design Education. Katja Fleischmann has taught, studied and worked in Miami, New York, London, Bournemouth, Wuerzburg and Berlin. One of her key focal points in her academic work is to establish sustainable relationships between the Creative Arts and the local community and industry. As researcher she publishes frequently on the development and implementation of an alternative learning and teaching model for undergraduate digital media design education. She has received national recognition from the Australian Learning and Teaching Council for this work.


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