A Few Questions on Open Online Design Education

A conversation with Stefano Mirti

FS: Stefano,you are about to launch Design 101 on the online education platform iversity this autumn. What was your initial motivation for starting a MOOC, or massive open online course for design?

SM: It was a responsive motivation. Iversity made a call for proposals, and since we at Abadir Academy of Fine Arts in Catania are working on similar themes anyway, although, not in MOOC form, my collegues and I said to ourselves: “why not?”.

FS: Have you already worked on this kind of experimental courses related to design before?

SM: Yes indeed. In 2011 we set up the Design Royale experiment, during Milan Fuorisalone, in which we used Facebook as a teaching tool. Then, in 2012, we started the still ongoing project Whoami.And earlier this year we developed Ceramic Futures for Confindustria Ceramiche, which is also still ongoing.

FS: It seems that you have been working quite a lot on the online education. Where does your interest come from?

SM: I’ve been teaching for years, but something broke down and the traditional way of “knowledge dissemination” (normally called: “school”) doesn’t work anymore. It is because of the cognitive shift, it is because of the global crisis, there are a lot of possible reasons, but finally it doesn’t work anymore.

Being myself not only a teacher but foremost a designer, if something doesn’t work, my first question is how to fix it, how to design it better, how to invent some new device that might work better. This is how we got here.

FS: Could you elaborate a little bit more on this point? What exactly broke down, and how can online education make a difference?

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