Politecnico di Milano - Department of Design (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 9025-9032
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.1820
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Over a year after the first reactions to the shift of the educational dimension from classrooms to homes, the methods and strategies for defining learning activities have not undergone substantial structural changes. The traditional didactics, made of theory and practical learning, and also of interaction and dialogue, has simply been moved from a tangible and real place to a virtual and intangible space. This shift has affected the dynamics of exchange and contamination at the basis of dynamic learning. The digital approach has not been able to translate the genius loci of the educational experience so far.

This paper proposes a reflection on the didactics that take place in Design schools, analysing the change in places, languages and interactions that take place during design practice. In distance learning, the "didactic dialogues", which are fundamental in Design education, require changes in the methods, languages and tools used in the more traditional forms of design teaching.

In both work and didactics, the Design discipline is characterised by the adoption of a phenomenological approach, meaning the observation, modification and analysis of reality, design processes and artefacts, to then gain practical and theoretical knowledge. For the designer and design student, knowledge and skills derived from the conception, production, study and modification of tangible and intangible artefacts. Distance learning has not yet been able to translate the importance of the know-how and of thinking (with one's hands) about tangible objects, typical of learning processes in Design.

The following aspects are discussed:
1. The Home learning: how the home context modifies the mutual perception of students and lecturers, and the awareness of the activities that can be carried out. The home as an identity space that influences language - even from a lexical point of view - and related interactions;
2. The language structures: dialogues on design carried out "at a distance" stress the use of hypotyposis, with all the problems involved in sharing knowledge expressed through different linguistic registers and new remote communication channels. Communication in "panoptic" conditions, in which looking and speaking without being seen, hearing but not seeing, looking at projects without seeing subjects, removes the physical dimension from it and its expressive charge, generally used as a means of disambiguating the sense attributed to speech;
3. The Design practice: intended in its relational dimension between experimentation, reflection and consolidation. In Design, every educational activity has as its goal the pursuit of both knowledge (meant as know-how) and skills (meant as being able).

From a methodological perspective, we analyse the qualitative data obtained with critical surveys regarding the experiences of distance learning, both from the lecturers' and students' viewpoints; these are supported by evidence from the literature. The aim is to demonstrate the relevance of the real (not digital or virtual) interactions in didactics (between all actants involved in the design process, that is people, objects and spaces), which are often missing in the home dimension mainly due to the lack of stimuli. A change in the way didactics is delivered affects the interaction, manipulation, change and critical evaluation that takes place in the design process when it tangibly involves all its actants.
design education, digital didactics, informal learning