Conference paper

The effect of social media on design education: from product to process

21 Aug 2007

Social media such as blogs, wikis and digital stories facilitate knowledge exchange through social networking. Such media create a new forum within which dispersed audiences can engage with design processes to create new knowledge and artefacts. Across the online environment, there is a growing engagement with user-generated content which impacts on designers as they move from sole author and producer to facilitator of design processes. From the commercial successes of Flickr and YouTube to the design-centric initiatives such as ReadyMade and Design it Yourself , design education is just as impacted upon by the user-generated demand driven revolution as is broadcasting and other forms of media. Ready Made, Instructions for Everyday Life, a design magazine and associated website, focuses on facilitating the production of design by providing readers with examples, instructions and reviews on how "amateurs" can create their own design objects. Lupton?s ?DIY Design it Yourself? book and website proposes that those who have access to design tools can ?make tangible their own knowledge and concepts?(Lupton 2006: 15).

These two examples go some way to exploring the issues which social media present to design education, including: the role of community in the creative process; the relationship between designer and outcome; the role of designer in user-generated production and distribution; and the long term effects of social media on design education and practice. Design education may broaden to affirm the interface between social sciences and design ensuring that the designer brings a deeper understanding of social systems, communities, audiences and motivations.

This paper uses a recent example of design education and social media networking from the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum to explore how design thinking and design education can be made more transparent to broader audiences whose engagement with design is precipitated by a desire to engage in the process of conceptualisation and production from their own perspective.

This paper was given at the 2007 ConnectEd Conference.


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