Collaboration through Flickr & Skype: Can Web 2.0 Technology Substitute the Traditional Design Studio in Higher Design Education?

 

Technology has not only changed the work practice of designers but also how design is taught and learned. The emergence of digital technology has made computer labs a central learning space for design students. Since this change, studio-based learning in its traditional sense appears to be in decline in higher education institutions. This is in spite of the fact that characteristics of the studio have been identified as supporting interaction, active learning, and social engagement. These, however, are also characteristics connected to the use of Web 2.0 technologies such as Facebook, Flickr, and Skype. Could these services be utilized to revitalize studio culture in a contemporary sense? How can new technologies be used to facilitate interactions between students inherent to traditional studio culture? These questions were explored in practice by documenting student reactions to using Flickr and Skype during a five week project requiring collaboration between first year creative arts students at two geographically distant institutions in Australia. Findings provide a better understanding of how to expand the studio idea into the digital environment, in particular regarding the challenging task of offering the media design major fully online in the near future.