Facilitating the Transfer of Knowledge in Collaborative Design Environments
Ryan Brotman, Aisling Kelliher, Ryan Spicer, Arizona State University
Competitive, global design companies cultivate fast-paced, innovative work environments where diverse teams use a wide variety of tactics and strategies to respond to emerging trends and opportunities. The increasing complexity of problems tackled in the design industry have introduced a need for designers from all disciplines to operate and make contributions within multiple areas of inquiry. For design educators, there is an urgent responsibility to ensure that graduating students will thrive and succeed in such workplaces. To do so, design schools must create meaningful, challenging and collaborative learning environments, where diverse groups of students develop and share interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge
Our recent field study of graduate design students in a large state university revealed product design opportunities for improving interdisciplinary knowledge sharing. Students from architecture, industrial design and visual communication design concentrations each displayed unique, discipline-specific methods for developing data as well as incomplete and/or inaccurate awareness of methodologies and approaches taught and used within other design disciplines. Additionally, members of each discipline showed a willingness to engage in collaborative and reflective activities.
The insights garnered from the study led to the development of a mediated design space called the LifeSampler Design Studio (LSDS). LSDS allows users to capture, annotate and archive authentic activity in a design studio environment built for small group collaboration. The hypothesis is that LSDS will facilitate critical reflection on best practices between the three concentrations, resulting in increased awareness that will, over time, lead to transdisciplinary innovation. This paper presents preliminary findings from our recent studies using the LSDS and proposes several new and exciting research directions for further developing this work. We begin by describing the pedagogical theories motivating our research and discuss relevant prior work in the areas of Reflective Design Practice, Transdisciplinary Education and Everyday Documentation. We then introduce our research method, followed by a description of the design, execution and results from our ethnographic study of university students in three design concentrations. We then introduce the LifeSampler Design Studio and present findings and insights from our ongoing studies, before concluding with some summary discussion and suggestions for possible new research directions.