Extending The Learning Landscape: Adapting To A New Student



Design Education Strategy


  • design methologies, learning approaches


According to Megan Hughes (2006) the generation that educators of the 21st Century have to deal with is referred to as “Generation Y”. They represent the by-product of the previous generation, i.e. the “baby boomers”, who heralded a “surge of new inventions and improvements” (Hughes, 2006), allowing the next generation benefits of improved technology and a much easier life.

“The Y Generation doesn't like hard work, even when it's for its own benefit, and is very much in love with anything that's 'instant'. “(Hughes.2006)

Design educators often adopt teaching and learning methods of a traditional nature. These practices may no longer be effective in the fast-paced world of tomorrow.

Recognising these challenges in our own institution and understanding what impact these may have on a national education system, a proposal of an alternative approach in skills and knowledge transfer within creative context has been implemented.

A series of interventions ranging from staff communication and wellbeing, to student development and support has been brought about through various media. Alternative interactive processes have been employed in the institution and continue to be developed. These interventions are described and discussed in this paper.

Extending the learning environment beyond the classroom and programme, contextualising the skills and knowledge gained is facilitated through the introduction of a Mentorship and Leadership Programme. A sense of ownership and responsibility has been created for the students, who have made an impact in their own communities. To date, 162 children within their communities have received input from our students, in various ways, ranging from literacy development, sporting activities to fund-raising.
Success of these interventions is evident in the following observed outcomes:

* a lower staff turnover,
* higher student and staff productivity levels
* more positive environment for both staff and students
* an improvement in positive student feedback
* improvement in student retention rates
* growth in the organisation

The outcomes are quantified by using human resource data, programme review forms, student academic results as well as growth in student numbers.

Our students have displayed openness to learning and discovering, and are exploring further than their immediate environment. Lecturers have noticed a change in attitude, class attendance and punctuality, with students taking responsibility for their own learning.

DEFSA conferences

DEFSA promotes relevant research with the focus on design + education through its biennial conferences, to promote professionalism, accountability and ethics in the education of young designers. Our next conference is a hybrid event. See above for details.

Critical skills endorsement

Professional Members in good standing can receive a certificate of membership, but DEFSA cannot provide confirmation or endorsement of skills whatsoever. DEFSA only confirm membership of DEFSA which is a NPO for Design Education in South Africa (https://www.defsa.org.za/imagine).