Crossing borders in real time: Utilizing readily available technology to create an immersive multi-cultural design experience

Presented by: Michael Dudek, H.C. Kim, J.W. Paik

INTRODUCTION While the jet-age of the 1950’s and 60’s allowed some architects and designers to capitalize on and expand their international reach, globalization and its impact on the building design and construction industry has expedited a shift in the marketing, procurement, and delivery of design services (Adam 2012, McNeill 2009). Currently, the internet, by way of the convergence of voice, video and information transfer technology enables the creation of cyber “third places” in which virtually corporeal communication can occur across the world in real time (Baker-Eveleth, Eveleth, Sarker, 2005) thereby resulting in a global range of readily accessible opportunities for designers. Consequently, globalization is now forcing a paradigm shift in how we educate interior designers. Design educators are endeavoring to address the need for technically savvy designers who also have a wider global perspective and an appreciation for the new world order (Pettipas, Ledoux & Ledoux, 2010). BACKGROUND The Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA), has been on the forefront of these shifting and broadening expectations of emerging Interior Design professionals. Beginning with its 1996 standards the Foundation for Interior Design Education and Research (now CIDA) began implementing professional standards that assessed an Interior Design program’s success in conveying “global and multi-cultural issues”. One author of this presentation has developed and continues to administer a successful ongoing international project in his senior Interior Design studio that engages an East Asian partner university in a collaborative design project. Although this project has been successful in exposing several cohorts of Interior Design students to trans-cultural experiences the interaction is limited due to differences in academic calendars across numerous time zones. METHOD The authors approached development of this collaborative multi-cultural experience by creating three areas of focus, the evidence based design process, cross cultural engagement and virtual communication technology. In order for this collaborative design project to be truly effective the course was held entirely on-line in real time. Due to a 15-hour time difference the U.S. based program held their class 6:00-10:00 PM and the East Asian class met 9:00-12:00 noon the next day. This was a significant learning experience for the students as they dealt with such a wide difference in schedules. Students utilized video conference technology for the entire class period working in a blend of literal and virtual reality for the duration of the course. Finally, in order to maximize cross cultural collaboration, the students performed all work in blended teams of four students, two from each participating institution. OUTCOMES The measured learning outcomes focused on student awareness of cross cultural design communication and the adaptability of students to utilize available technology to facilitate full time virtual. engagement Ultimately this course provided designs students on opposite sides of the globe with an immersive multi-cultural experience with no additional cost other than tuition. It is the authors belief that this project model could be easily implemented in other design education venues. The main components need only be two culturally divergent academic programs with similar objectives and a mutual desire to immerse their students in a real-time cross cultural design experience.


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  • Baker-Eveleth, L., Eveleth, D., & Sarker, S. (2005). An emerging on-line "Third Place" for information systems (IS) students: Some preliminary observations. Journal of Information Systems Education, Vol.16(4), pp.465-475
  • Ledoux, K.,& Ledoux, F. (2010). Entering the global design market. In Martin, C. & Guerin, D (Eds), The state of the interior design profession (pp. 340-345). New York, NY: Fairchild Books.
  • McNeil D. (2009). The global Architect: Firms, fame and urban form, New York: Routledge.
  • Pettipas, J. (2010). Globalism in design: Are we responsible?. In Martin, C. & Guerin, D (Eds), The state of the interior design profession (pp. 335-339). New York, NY: Fairchild Books.
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