Continuing professional development for product designers: barriers and opportunities



Design Education Strategy
Product & Industrial Design


  • social learning, continuing education


More designers expect and are willing to spend time to continue their education. It is not only because of new job requirements that designers need to upgrade and update their knowledge and experience, but also for self-satisfaction. To meet this educational need, a part-time programme has been offered to product designers with different educational backgrounds and working experiences.

Evaluations of the overall arrangement of the programme and of the teaching and learning of some subjects have been conducted for six years. The evaluations have included questionnaires, classroom observations, and in-depth interviews with students and teachers. This paper briefly reviews the social changes and the need of product designers for continuing education.

By reviewing the structure of the programme and the feedback of the design students, this paper discusses the difficulties that these students encounter in continuing their professional development in universities. According to the special arrangements in the programme aimed at meeting the needs of students, the paper identifies three opportunities to help students continue their education: that is, turning diversity into a resource, turning constraints into flexibility, and turning difficulties into motivation.

The paper further discusses that, for such arrangements to be successful, administrators and teachers should have the same mission and goals in implementing the arrangements, such as flexible arrangements of timetables and flexible learning environment. Without consensus among administrators and teachers and their contribution and collaboration, it would be difficult to achieve success.

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