In March and April this year, universities were compelled to move to online teaching modes by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. Design schools too, hurriedly modified their course content to accommodate this new reality. For a discipline that focuses on practice-based pedagogy, material explorations actual users and real-life prototyping, online delivery has raised many questions and challenges. Some of these are provocations—reconsider design pedagogy, rethink the studio as a site for design education, re-examine design methods and processes and, perhaps design practice itself.

There is a darker underside to this new reality, which has received less attention. Online teaching assumes that all students have powerful computers with state-of-the-art design software, access to fast Internet and continuous supply of electricity. For many design students from rural and economically marginalised backgrounds, online teaching has been a very difficult experience. Moreover, gender also has played an important role in how online learning has been experienced. Women students have had a disproportionately larger share of household work…

…and caregiving as have women teachers coping with children and chores at home. Many students and teachers do not have the space and quiet at home, which they had in the university. The physical and mental strain of online teaching – eyestrain, headaches, exhaustion – experienced by all, also needs examination, given the intense fulltime nature of design education.

The corona virus will recede in the foreseeable future, but design pedagogy may be pushed online by a range of actors.  Bringing together design teachers, students and practitioners, this conference hopes to get the design community to reflect on the recent experience of online design education, how to survive the new and think about possible new futures after Covid-19.

We welcome all contributions related to recent experiences teaching and learning design online, and those that imagine potential ramifications for the future.  However, to guide the contributors we have identified following topics:

  • The Virtual Design Studio: Since the Bauhaus, the studio has been central to design education as a space for hands-on exploration and collaborative learning, but the virtual redefines physicality, materiality and community. So, do we need to reimagine the studio, and by extension, the design education of the future? What could be the ramifications of such a profound change?
  • Equity in Online Design Education: For managerial and administrative entities, online education is considered a cheap and efficient alternative. However, the real cost is passed on to learners and teachers. The issues of equity, the challenges of access and spaces of learning—now shifted to home—have serious consequences to the nature of education. How can these concerns be mitigated and ensure that educational access is equitable?
  • Gender and Design Education: Moving work to home is neither simple nor comfortable. For women students and teachers, erasing the boundary between home and work resulted in extended work time and increased demands. Can we disregard these life-impacting facts while discussing online education?
  • Educating for Practice: Design is a practice-driven profession and hence practice occupies a central position in the education of designers. What does online practice look like and what impact would it have on the practice of profession as we have known it?
  • Student Voices: Students are at the receiving end of online design education and bring unique perspectives to thinking about online space. Hence our view is that they are our partners in sharing our experiences of teaching/learning online and in thinking about the future. We would like to hear from the students on their recent experiences of learning online.
  • Student-Faculty Collaborations: We welcome collaborative papers with reflections from differing perspectives on any aspect of online education.

The Format of the Conference:  We would like this conference to be deeply reflective and generate valuable discussion. Therefore, we have chosen a format that minimizes the challenges of online conferences and the fatigue they generate.

  • Duration: The conference will be held over 3 days: 27-28-29 August 2020
  • Schedule: There will be 2 sessions of 2.5 hours each day. One in the morning and the other in the afternoon (Session timing TBD).
  • Sessions: Each session will have 6 presentations of 12-minute duration and will be divided into 2 parts of 70 minutes each (3 papers including Q&A and discussion) with a 10-minute break in between.
  • Papers/Presentations: The authors of accepted papers should submit a written paper of 1500-2500 or a video or audio recording of no more than 20 minutes (can include visuals) 07 days prior to the conference. These paper/presentations will be made available on the website 5 days before the conference start date. Actual presentation would be of the key points made by the paper.
  • Posters: The authors of accepted posters should submit a 5-minute video or audio along with the poster. The poster and video/audio will be available on the first day of the conference.
  • Recordings: We plan on recording all the sessions of the conference including discussion and make the recordings available online.
  • Publication: Selected papers will be published at a later date.

Submissions:  If you are interested in sharing your experiences teaching / learning design online or thinking about the social, economic and cultural impact of online education, send us an abstract of 250-300 words to: by 27 July 2020.

Submissions may be accepted in any one of the categories: papers or posters. Authors will be notified about the acceptance of their abstracts by 2 Aug 2020.

Key dates

27 July 2020: Last date for abstracts

2 Aug 2020: Acceptance of abstracts

20 August 2020: Receiving posters / papers / audio / video from authors:

27, 28, 29 August 2020: Conference date

Organised by: