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Distancing Design Education 2021 – 2nd Symposium on Higher Education Teaching in Times of the Corona Pandemic

The summer semester 2021 has started. New students, new seminars, same pandemic. For creative study programmes, this situation remains a special challenge.

After one year since the start of the pandemic in Germany, it is clear that online education was not a brief exception – rather, the question is whether this mode will become the “new normal” in the long term.

What does this mean for teachers, students, universities and especially the future of design teaching with its competence-based curricula? What is the situation for students in the 2nd and 3rd semesters who have hardly studied on campus so far?

To discuss these questions, Prof. Michael Jonas, head of the Digital Design programme, hosted the second virtual “Distancing Design Education” symposium on 15 April. 21 professors and lecturers from 16 universities from all over Germany and the German University in Cairo came together to exchange ideas among colleagues.

Prof. Dr. René Spitz, Chairman of the iF Design Foundation and Professor of Design Science and Design Management at the Rheinische Fachhochschule Cologne, was the guest of honour. As author and publisher of the book “Designing Design Education – Weißbuch zur Zukunft der Designlehre“, which was published in spring 2021, he presented his theses and scenarios for discussion.

For example, referring to the future of design teaching, Prof. Dr. Spitz considers now to be a new time for design pioneers: “The Bauhaus embraced industrial production and created something new from it. We need to do that today with AI.”

Afterwards, the educators shared their insights after a year of virtual teaching and gave each other advice on best practices. In doing so, Jesta Brouns, headmaster of Design Factory International, summed up what many of her colleagues are also observing with regard to the development of e-learning at higher education level: “We don’t invent flying by flying. We run and jump and fall again and again until we can fly.”

All the more helpful, then, if you don’t have to learn to fly on your own. The symposium was once again very well received this year, so that the discussion will be continued until the next date via a dedicated Slack channel.

We would like to thank all participants for the enriching dialogue! Our special thanks go to Prof. Dr. Spitz for the exciting insight into his research on the future of design teaching.