Managing Increasing Complexity in Undergraduate Digital Media Design Education: The impact and benefits of multidisciplinary collaboration

Katja Fleischmann, Ryan Daniel
2013, Vol. 18, No. 3,


Increasing complexity is one of the most pertinent issues
when discussing the role and future of design, designers
and their education. The evolving nature of digital media
technology has resulted in a profession in a state of flux
with increasingly complex communication and design
problems. The ability to collaborate and interact with other
disciplines has recently been strongly articulated as an
imperative skill for the future designer. How the education
of such a designer is facilitated in practice is less well
defined. The implementation of authentic problem-solving
processes that introduce design students to workplace
realities is often missing in design education. In order to
manage the increasing complexities of design problems
and technology a learning and teaching approach that
facilitates the interaction of multiple disciplines was
implemented and trialed over a period of two years in an
undergraduate digital media design programme. This
approach, known as the POOL model framework, is based
on a ‘pool’ of resources and people to be applied as
needed when responding to complex design problems.
This paper focuses on the extent to which complex
interactive design projects can be managed through
multidisciplinary collaboration. Feedback from students
and educators is presented and which reveals that the
framework does provide an opportunity for students to
resolve complex design and technological problems and
contribute to project outcomes that could not be achieved
when working individually.


multidisciplinary collaboration, digital media design education, POOL Model framework, alternative learning and teaching approach

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