MITIGATING GROUP DISCUSSIONS IN DESIGN ACTIVITIES FOR JAPANESE HIGH STUDENTS DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Loh, Leon (1); Ogo, Miki (2); Zhang, Yanfang (1); Takano, Noriko (1)
Institution: 1: Kyushu University, Faculty of Design, Japan; 2: Kyushu University, Graduate School of Design, Japan
Section: Research in Design and Engineering Education Practice
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.47
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented impact in how education is being implemented in the classrooms. At the moment, Japanese schools continue to operate with a note of caution by adhering to new health guidelines. The purpose of this study is to clarify the factors that affect effective group discussions when using online whiteboard during in-person design activities for high school students in the classroom during the pandemic.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, it was common for students to work in groups during design activities to share opinions and bounce off ideas by writing directly or putting Post-it Notes on large sheets of paper. Due to the pandemic, working in groups with close proximity is not advisable. Technology such as online whiteboard provides a possibility for students to share ideas and conduct discussions without gathering in close proximity. Although using online whiteboards may be common in design activities at university level, but this form of technology may not be commonly used in high school classrooms in Japan.
While online learning techniques may operate using synchronous and asynchronous environment, the current study operates in a face-to-face environment where offline and online real-time social interactions may be achieved. Under this context, the research questions are as follows.
1) Can technology such as online whiteboard contribute to the effective communication amongst high school students during face-to-face design activities?; and
2) What are the factors that may affect students in communicating their opinions or ideas during design activities when using the online whiteboard?
This study adopted a qualitative approach where a case study was conducted based on a design workshop conducted for 28 high school students, as part of the Global Management Programme, in Fukusho High School over a period of 3 days in August 2020. The duration of each session was 3 hours. The data was gathered after the completion of the programme through questionnaire survey that included closed and open-ended questions. The objects of study are 24 students who have responded to the questionnaire survey. The workshop was conducted face-to-face, iPads or Windows tablets were provided to each student to facilitate the use of online whiteboard, such as Miro, during group sharing and discussions. Students would work in groups of 5 or 6 to identify design problems within the community and then propose the most appropriate solution concept.
Based on the findings, the following main points can be concluded. Firstly, face-to-face design discussions when combined with the use of online whiteboard, provide students with real-time verbal and non-verbal feedback which offer effective group discussions during design activities. In addition, students’ ability to use digital devices may not have direct influence on the perceived effectiveness of group discussions and their motivation to use the online whiteboard during design discussions. To facilitate effective communications in design activities similar to the current study, some suggestions such as choosing an easy-to-use online whiteboard with functions that allows ideas to be consolidated, setting up instructional routines in group discussions and providing training sessions for the use of online whiteboard before lessons activities may be necessary.