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  • Anna Talley posted an article
    EdSIG Convenor on LearnXDesign 2023's new proceedings format. see more

    This year, the DRS's Education SIG is trying something different for their biennial LearnxDesign conference. Instead of holding a conventional conference, the LearnxDesign CfP, on the theme of  'Futures of Design Education', is taking the form of proceedings only. We sat down with Derek Jones, EdSIG convenor, to learn more about the theme and format for LearnxDesign 2023, EdSIG and how to get involved.


    How did you come up with the theme ‘Futures of Design Education’? Why is it important to address this theme now? On the same note, how did you choose the sub-themes and what do you hope might be explored in each? 

    The idea for the theme came directly from the success of the discussion series of the same name, Futures of Design Education. This series invited design educators from a range of backgrounds and contexts with the aim of raising awareness of the plurality of design education practices that exist. 

    The series has featured some incredible educators and highlights that design education most definitely benefits from this plurality. All the recordings are available here.

    It’s fair to say that most of the Convening Group have been influenced by this series and the sub-themes in the Call reflect this influence as well as coming from individual Convenors’ interests. 


    How does this year’s publication build on past LearnX conferences?

    EdSIG has organised conference proceedings biennially since 2011 and we felt it was important to keep this publication opportunity for design educators. Members told us that they use Learn X Design as a target for writing and we hope that this will keep that pattern going. We also intend to ensure the quality of contributions remains high.


    What do you think are the benefits of having a CfP for a proceedings document over a more traditional conference format?

    We are hoping that this will allow us to focus on the writing, editing and publication process more directly. If there is enough interest, we hope that we will be able to support other events to discuss the academic writing and reviewing process. The quality of our research in design education depends on our collective capacity to support an academic community at all stages, writing, reviewing, editing and supporting publishing and dissemination.


    Can you tell us a bit about the other members of the EdSig Convening Group? How are they involved in the CfP, paper reviews and proceedings publication? 

    We are a really collaborative group and we tend to do most things collectively (that was really the plan when we changed to EdSIG a few years back). We will all be involved in all aspects of the Call process and, as the process goes on, we’ll keep an eye on the response we get to see if we need to rearrange things. 

    The EdSIG Convenors are: 

    Derek Jones, The Open University, (UK) 
    Liv Merete Nielsen, OsloMet, (Norway)
    Nicole Lotz, The Open University, (UK)
    Lesley-Ann Noel, North Carolina State University, (USA)
    Naz A G Z Börekçi, Middle East Technical University, (Turkey) 
    James Corazzo, Sheffield Hallam University, (UK)

    You can find out more about us here: 


    Visual submissions to academic publications are a relatively new development in the field. Can you go into more detail about what you expect to see from visual submissions? Can you reference any existing publications that have employed visual submissions?

    Learn X Design 2021 featured a number of innovations led by Erik Bohemia and one of these was the introduction of visual papers. But LxD 2021 also had a Track dedicated to visual methods (Sketching and Drawing education and Knowledge), led by Bryan Howell. This gave delegates the chance to not only submit visual material but to also treat it seriously as a component of knowledge and research and I really loved the blend of both in the track. 

    If you get the chance, have a look at Track 7 in the 2021 Proceedings: 

    You can read Bryan’s Track Editorial here: 

    The two visual papers that stood out for me were:

    Learning remotely through diversity and social awareness: The grand challenge approach to tackle societal issues through diversity and creative thinking


    Sketchnoting experience of first-year students


    What other activities or events does EdSig run? If someone is interested in getting involved, how do they get in touch? 

    As noted above, we organise the Futures of Design Education discussion series and this has now hosted 21 talks from a range of international educators. All the recordings are available here.

    EdSIG also organises tracks around education for the main DRS conference series, and this usually involves 2 or 3 tracks, representing how important education is to the design research community.

    We are always keen to hear from anyone wanting to get involved - just contact Derek Jones

     February 03, 2023
  • Anna Talley posted an article
    The 6th DRS EdSIG Conference on Design Education, LEARN x DESIGN 2021 was held in September 2021. see more

    The 6th International DRS EdSIG Conference on Design Education, LEARN x DESIGN 2021 was held in September 2021, hosted by Shandong university of Art & Design, China.

    The 2021 Conference was a great success, particularly considering the challenges facing the organisers. Shortly after the announcement was made that Shandong would host the conference, the COVID-19 pandemic created uncertainty around all aspects of the conference and arrangements. Credit for bringing all of this together has to go to the organisers and especially, Erik Bohemia, with incredible support from Shandong University of Art & Design.

    Despite these challenges, several innovations were trialled and introduced for this conference. For example, the pre-conference symposium provided a new way to explore and develop tracks with international academics. In addition, this year saw the introduction of the ‘Little Fish’ track, giving student members a chance to develop and manage a track of their own conception (look out for Track 09: Futures of Design Education when the proceedings come out). In addition, the 2021 conference offered the opportunity to submit visual papers for the first time and these are well worth taking a look at for anyone interested in a more designerly way of communicating research (look out for Track 07 when the proceedings come out).

    This is not to single out any particular track – there was a lot on offer and like many past conferences, it was sometimes quite hard to choose which presentations to attend. Overall, there were 11 main tracks presenting contemporary work in design education, from Critical Design Literacy to Design Educators as Change Agents. Looking over the themes and content of tracks there continues to emerge a more critical turn in design education: both in terms of our positions as design educators as well as how to include this meaningfully in curricula for students.

    The Conference Proceedings are being finalised now and will be available shortly.

    In between tracks the social side of the conference made up for the lack of physical proximity by proving introductions to Tai Chi, lectures on Confucianism, and several types of tea-related meetups to suit a range of global palettes. Organising the ‘in-between’ elements of any online event can be incredibly difficult and congratulation have to go to Erik for welcoming everyone and keeping us on track through the event.

    The energy of the event was apparent to delegates and, as was observed on the first day, the fact that we all had to be kicked out of the final Zoom room (so they could sweep up) showed that, to paraphrase Confucius, “welcoming friends from afar is a great pleasure”.

    Scale and Ambition

    Links with China have never been more important in design education. China has already begun to realise a radical ambition to expand and promote design education. As the President of Shandong University of Art & Design writes in the welcome (in press):

    Since 2016, more than 2,000 of institutions have been delivering design programmes. Every year more than 540,000 students enrolled into Design programmes. The number of students studying design and related majors in the school now exceeds 2 million.

    The position of institutions such as Shandong University of Art & Design as strategic centres for design education are critical. Shandon has both a history of design education as well as being a centre for the study of this culture, incorporating this into contemporary design curricula (more on this will be available in the Conference Proceedings, out soon).

    However, this legacy is not seen as a static entity: several of the papers at the conference explored the present and future state of design and design education in China. Shandong aims, not only to be an institution of education, but of research and the creation of new knowledge. It is perhaps this focus on design education research, taken seriously as an area of study in itself, that is perhaps most exciting for the future of design in China.

    10th Anniversary

    It’s been 10 years since the first Conference on Design Education, held in Paris in 2011. Over this time there have been two important legacies.

    Firstly, the body of knowledge produced. With the 2021 conference, around 500 papers are now available to design educators – all of which have been double blind peer reviewed as part of any DRS conference event. This body of knowledge is a rare collection of material that both focuses on design education explicitly, but that also explores this topic across a very broad horizon of study (you can find all past conference proceedings on the DRS EdSIG page:

    Secondly, the community and social legacy should not be ignored. Design educators every often have a double passion in both education and design, making the design education community a very dedicated and engaged group. This is evidenced in the connections and relationships that have formed and lasted over the last 10 years.


    Overall, LEARN x DESIGN 2021 was a great success despite the challenges faced by the organisers (and all design educators) over the past couple of years. On behalf of everyone who attended, the EdSIG Convening Group, and the DRS itself, I’d like to thank the organisers, host institution and everyone in the background who helped make the event run smoothly.

    Thank you!

    Next events

    The next LEARN x DESIGN conference will be held in 2013 and the location is to be confirmed. If anyone is interested in talking about hosting the conference then please get in touch (

    The next big event will be DRS 2022 in Bilbao ( As always, there will be a number of education themed and related tracks, in particular:


    FUTURES Of Design Education:

    DESIGN Literacies:

    If you can’t wait that long then don’t forget that the Futures of Design Education discussion series is still going and we have three great speakers lined up for Autumn 2021, starting with Sucharita Beniwal, talking about material practices and education at the National Institute of Design in India.

    You can find details of the events and sign up here: 

    Finally, if anyone in interested in getting in involved in EdSIG or has any ideas for what we could do to support and help members then please just get in touch with us (

     October 11, 2021