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Are social network sites the future of engineering design education?

Brisco, Ross and Whitfield, Robert and Grierson, Hilary (2018) Are social network sites the future of engineering design education? In: 20th International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education, 2018-09-06 - 2018-09-07, Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College London.

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Abstract

This paper presents how online social network sites (SNSs) are being used by students in distributed engineering design teams to support design activities; and its implications for the future of design education. Ethnographic studies of a Global Design Project (GDP) were conducted from 2015-2017 to collect information on the growing use of SNSs by students. Team diaries were kept, systematically recording observations, and students reported their personal experiences in reports. Nvivo 11 was utilised to code data and make conclusions on team’s collaborative behaviour, and their successes and failures with the technologies used. This study has revealed that students of the GDP have made a change in the way they collaborate by means of SNSs. Evidence shows that students are able to utilise the functionality of SNSs to support the design process, design activities and design thinking. The growth of SNSs within academia and industry suggest that students will need to utilise the technology or at least the functionalities of SNSs in the future. It is important to question how future engineering design education might be delivered and how social network site functionality can be best used.