QUT Academics Explore International Design

As part of the academic exchange component of INTERACT, throughout September 2017 three Interactive and Visual Design lecturers from QUT were given the one-off opportunity to visit partner schools UAL & DMJX. Dr. Manuela Taboada, Dr. Jennifer Seevinck and Dr. Jeremy Kerr spent the month travelling together, with a focus of their trip being examining different models and approaches to design and design education across partner institutions and beyond. As a result of travelling together, while being exposed to new ways of thinking about design, the group was able to continuously workshop ideas for future teaching and initiatives at QUT. Many aspects of this experience then informed elements of curriculum design within the new Interaction Design and Visual Communication degrees at QUT, to begin next year.

Jen & Jeremy with DMJX's Stig Moller Hansen visiting classes

Jen & Jeremy with DMJX’s Stig Moller Hansen visiting classes

The lecturers’ trip began in Copenhagen and a visit to DMJX to meet local students, catch-up with QUT exchange students and take part in a series of curriculum discussions with DMJX staff. The staff members were able to experience one of DMJX’s popular sprint subjects firsthand and explore new approaches to teaching coding and visual design. The lecturers also utilised the opportunity to visit other local design studios and institutions, such as the Explorium Museum and Copenhagen Contemporary, along with trips to Malmo University (Sweden) and the IT University of Copenhagen.

The trip to UAL and London was equally rich and valuable. The lecturers arrived on the opening weekend of the London Design Festival, allowing them to hit the ground running, soaking up London’s vibrant design culture. Staff attended a variety of exhibitions and events; from talks by Ed Hogikyan, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, and Julian Melchiorri, amongst others, to visits to the Victoria and Albert Museum, Tate Modern, the Lumen Digital Arts Awards and much more. Staff used the opportunity to develop videos and create other material to be integrated across future QUT design subjects.

The staff members then took part in the LDF INTERACT Symposium, which was followed by a series of workshops with all INTERACT partners to develop future directions for institutional collaboration. This led to the development of an integrated Global Design Studio unit to be offered at partner institutions, an exciting new direction for Interaction Design education.

Manu, Jen and Jeremy all acknowledged, upon return, that the experience had changed their teaching practices and emphasised the importance for students (and staff) to explore the possibility of international travel and institutional exchange.

Dr Jeremy Kerr — QUT