Conference Report: DRS2020

Conference Report: DRS2020

DRS2020 took place last month on 11-14 August, hosted by Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. It was the first entirely online DRS conference. The transition from an in-person to online conference happened quickly. It required big adjustments by the organising team and fundamentally changed the highly anticipated biennial event.

DRS2020 had nearly 150 paper presentations and 35 conversations and workshops, including multiple events hosted by DRS Special Interest Groups (SIGs). Sessions explored a wide range of topics including design transitions, mobility, games, co-creation and health. Organisers and attendees were creative and resourceful; there were impromptu Zoom meetings between delegates and a Slack group formed within the DRS2020 community.

DRS2020 taught us the benefits and challenges of online conferences. Certainly, they’re more accessible, enable easier participation and have a lower environmental footprint. Pre-recorded virtual presentations are also easy to share and re-watch. And—the stakes are lower if you miss a great presentation or need to choose between sessions. Many presentation videos are available on DRS YouTube and you can contact Isabel to add yours (editor@designresearchsociety.org).

However, there are important challenges to overcome. As conference attendees noted, it’s hard to be physically and mentally present at a virtual event. Traveling to a conference provides a dedicated block of time to slow down, listen and discuss. Attending a conference from home comes with other commitments like meetings, teaching and childcare. Opportunities for feedback and networking also come less naturally and easily.

Regardless of these hiccups, we’re so pleased with the great design research presented at the conference and to have the opportunity to meet despite these challenging times! There are lots of design research ideas and insights on online events to carry forward.

DRS2020 papers are available for download in the new DRS Digital Library. Be sure to check them out!