Engaging with industry through Design Thinking: Reflections of a WIL educator

Dr. Jo Li Marie-Joelle Tay (Curtin University)
2019 Conference

Design thinking has recently gained popularity outside of the design industry, especially in the business sector. Companies are recognising the value that design and design thinking brings, especially in terms of solving problems. The growing interest in design thinking has provided design students with opportunities to engage with industries outside the creative industries sector, such as consulting.

At the same time, work-integrated learning (WIL) is a pedagogical strategy that is well-suited to design disciplines, since designers typically have to work with client organisations or individuals to develop solutions. Working with clients requires many of the soft skills (e.g. teamwork, organisation, etc.) sought after by employers – skills that are also crucial for a successful career in design.

In this paper, the author describes how design thinking and WIL were used together for a unit that is part of the Graphic Design major at Curtin University. The author also reflects on the role of design thinking and WIL in creating and supporting industry engagement, as well as their combined impact on design education and student engagement.

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About the author


Jo Li is an associate lecturer in Graphic Design at Curtin University. Her teaching is primarily centred around design thinking, research methods in design, and design theory. She has research interests in Aesthetics, Interactivity, Experience Design, Learning, and Design Thinking. Her PhD is titled “A Model for Mapping Interactivity in Learning Experiences”.