The Movement Control Order (MCO) implemented by the Malaysian government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 epidemic required that schools remain closed. During this out-of-the-norm culture schools turned implemented online teaching and learning which has become a necessity for interior design education. A pandemic was not something we would have imagined nevertheless here we are facing it head-on together in this world-wide lockdown. Lecturers and students are forced to continue teaching and learning online, a practice that has gone unchallenged in the Interior Design education.
Not surprisly, the BA (Hons) in Interior Architecture at The Design School, Taylor’s University is revamping its delivery mode in teaching design to help students prepare for a remote semester amid a time of uncertainties. Design theory and process subject specialist Vickram Thevar reviewed what is needed to ensure that students will not miss a beat in their design education learning experience. Amidst all the unpredictable situations, the isolation, and the endless uncertainties, many were worried that this digital culture would not have enough human-centered empathy for end users.
Vickram has designed a curriculum that reflects the best of what we know. Teaching digitally was an interesting challenge that has led to new teaching approaches. Vickram believed that despite the circumstances of the pandemic, his novel teaching methods would make classes more engaging and enjoyable for the tutors as well as the students.
What began with worrying on creating interaction and interest ended with quite an interesting semester “…students have done exceptionally well not only in completing their work but the new delivery modes and technologies has created a substantially unique output,” stated Programme Director IDr Nur Diana Mohamed Rosli. There is potential in digital learning platforms such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Discord to name a few. With the usage of these available platforms, hybrid methods of teaching and learning were made possible through Miro applications and with the introduction of extended plug-ins such as Enscape. Lecturers were able to innovate by providing a more systematic and efficient method of teaching and information delivery digitally through virtual and augmented reality.
The Graduating Student’s Exhibition celebrated the end of their respective journeys over three and a half years at Taylor’s. What would traditionally have drawn interest from local design enthusiasts, has now been converted into public engagement via social platforms that accumulatively attracted thousands of interested students, academics, professionals, friends, and colleagues locally and internationally through their virtual exhibition something that is not possible in a physical exhibition setting. Storytellers, the name chosen for the exhibition, reflects a convergence of individual narrating of their individual background stories as well as design allegories that showcase meaningful design solutions that benefit society and humankind.
The exhibition is unique in that it marks the first Interior architecture exhibition that offers virtual experiences of the interior spaces that the students created!
The Interior Architecture programme is distinctive — it offers the only highly experimental and rigorous research-based interior programme in the country, which fuses meticulous creative thinking with critical research. These graduates are not only industry ready but are now future proof and ready to take on the world.
Other fields share the same challenges that are faced by interior design education, Danielle Wee from August 2020 graduating batch shared that ‘lecturers at the BA (Hons) in Interior Architecture programme did everything in their power to accommodate each student and we got the opportunity to learn multiple skills in preparation for the virtual exhibition such as discovering multiple online platforms, web design and video editing alongside our interior design work’.
In conclusion, the overall outlook for interior design education in the next year and beyond demands unprecedented innovation and inspiration for the Interior Design profession to venture into new territories with endless possibilities as 2021 is a promising year when the world restarts!
Graduating batch August 2020 virtual exhibition can be viewed at https://storytellerstds.wixsite.com/storytellerstds2020.