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Designing a new future

Swinburne Online Design Program director, Nicki Wragg, discusses the future of the ever-evolving design industry and looks at how online education is changing the way design courses are delivered. 

A designer of all trades 

Design is really starting to broaden its reach. Communication design is such an extensive field, as it takes in information design, publication, advertising, web design and packaging. While we still find as many designers working in niche areas, it’s now common for designers to be working across many different disciplines and media types. 

Marrying technology with human experience 

Design will never become redundant because it is crucial in everything we do. It is a reflection of society at any given time. Designers play a crucial role in marrying technology with human experience. Designers create experiences that have a narrative and provoke emotional resonance. 

It’s important that students learn to adapt to changing environments, have a broad understanding of design and where their area fits in within the interdisciplinary practice. They need to be able to understand a multitude of scenarios and realise that they will never just be designing for one particular outcome. 


Upskilling is likely to become more important in the future. And with advancing technologies, there are certain literacies designers have to be aware of. We are seeing a real shift and designers must be able to confidently articulate what it is they do, to both designers and non-designers. 

A new way to deliver content 

The very nature of practice-based study online prepares students for the changing job landscape. We have included a number of initiatives to encourage students to think about working in 2D, 3D, and in-motion activities. Above everything, design is about people, therefore just like students studying on campus, online students have to find time to get out from behind their screens to observe people in the real world if they want to find solutions to complex design problems. Our online course has essentially retained traditions from experiential learning, we are now just delivering the content in new ways. 

Preparing for digital disruption 

For any given project the students must produce a video which encourages them think about design challenges and we believe that this kind of practice teaches them transferrable skills such as remote pitching. For example, how do you present yourself via a skype interview? How do you get that enthusiasm across through technology when you’re not in a face-to-face interview? These are some of the things that modern design students must learn in this rapidly changing job landscape.