Politecnico di Milano, Department of Design (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 12004-12013
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.2507
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
The COVID pandemic, for a year now, has required and influenced a profound change in the teaching methods, tools, and dynamics at any school level. Moreover, relationships, interactions, and cooperation among students have also changed.

Students in Design universities' courses are often asked to work in groups to ideate and design a product. In these cases, processes of dialogue and comparison between peers have undergone a clear modification, as tools and channels are concerned, and regarding the work organization and conduction, as well.

Before the pandemic, students lived in university spaces daily and could dialogue continuously, within their own workgroup or with other groups, both in moments specifically dedicated to teaching and in informal moments, such as breaks.

The face-to-face dialogue was made up of moments of exchange and comparison of ideas, represented with immediacy on paper and discussed through words; spaces, such as prototyping laboratories, gave the possibility to think and speak through "the work of the hands", and to explore the design problem actively.
Nowadays, the dialogue within students' workgroups, which happens online, has been more oriented towards negotiation and segmentation of the work to be carried out than sharing and comparing the possibilities and design trajectories.

The tools available, such as Miro and Mural, allow students to achieve the course's objectives; however, the exploratory and cognitive (and relational) path is highly simplified and becomes more individual than collective and dialogical, aspects which are fundamental for the learning processes.

Furthermore, the possibility of accessing tools and infrastructures makes the gap between students even more evident; what previously the knowledge and skills of the individual could overcome now becomes linked to access, availability, and possession of tools.

In support of the hypothesis presented here, a field research activity was conducted to obtain data and direct testimony of the students' experience regarding the dynamics within the workgroups and the organization of laboratory activities.

For this purpose, three different clusters of students have been identified: those who started their university experience during the pandemic period; those who have at least one year of pre-pandemic attendance; those who have attended university courses for more than one year. This segmentation will provide structured evidence of the changes in the learning experience and, in particular, in the collaboration between design students.

This contribution intends to provide an initial reflection on the models of interaction between students within the design courses of design schools, to define a representation of the online interactions between them during their group activity.
Design education, Groups dynamics, Social Capital, Online learning.