Connecting Contemporary Designers: a study in piloting e-learning through collaborative online creative practice across UK and Korea

Catherine McDermott, Kingston University

This project report is from one of the 2011-12 ADM-HEA Learning and Teaching Projects Holders. ‘Connecting Contemporary Designers’ is a collaborative initiative led by Professors Catherine McDermott and Simone Carena at Kingston and Hongik Universities in London and Seoul. CCD research focuses on building design futures, internationalization and employability. It challenges emerging designer...


Sections from Figure 2 and Figure 3 CCD Project

The successful ADM-HEA project holders for 2011-12 focussed their attention on three key themes: better teaching; flexible learning and graduates with impact. The projects incorporate a broad range of aspects of art, design and media undergraduate, and post-graduate, programmes, principally: interdisciplinary considerations of game design (Institute of Arts, Media and Computer Games, University of Abertay, Dundee); community broadcasting (Media School, Bournemouth University); studio pedagogies (Faculty of Design, Media & Management, Bucks New University); the use of screen casting in fashion and textiles courses (Faculty of Art and Design, Fashion and Textiles, De Montfort University); and online curating and international collaboration for design students (Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, Kingston University). 

The first of these reports from Kingston University is published here and the other 4 will be published in Networks 18.

Keywords: collaboration, internationalisation, employability, postgraduate design, digital media, networking 


‘Connecting Contemporary Designers’ (CCD) is a collaborative initiative led by Professors Catherine McDermott and Simone Carena at Kingston and Hongik Universities in London and Seoul. CCD research focuses on building design futures, internationalization and employability. It challenges emerging designers to focus on enterprise and opportunity in the global recession by enabling entrepreneurial skills such as team-work rather than hierarchy, and fast decision-making and equity through the online potential of digital media.  

Delivered as an online student brief, CCD brings together two of the world’s most digitized student communities to research and develop shared ideas on how to launch their careers. Development started in 2009, based on a pilot project developed with the British Council, and ran live from Sept 2010 - June 2011.  

The projects aimed to trial and assess methods of collaborative working with and between postgraduate designers, in on- and off-line contexts through the following research questions: practitioners need to establish themselves within the creative industries in the first critical 18 months after graduation: how can they make their voice heard online? How can they make use of digital media opportunities—developing and furthering the practice of networking? 

The project benefited from the international academic base of both UK and South Korean universities’ strong links to Industry Practitioners, who provided the mentoring and the ‘real business landing’ of the academic project. With a live brief and competition the winning ideas were developed with two high profile industry mentors, Professor Malcolm Garrett and Vinyl Design and launched at 100% Design London in September 2011.  

The project legacy in 2012 includes a further collaborative networked learning project between Hongik and Kingston, this one involving a science/design interdisciplinary brief with Prof Edith Sim and Dr Mark Preece in the Kingston University Faculty of Science. Additional external partners are Professor Anthony Dunne (RCA) and Tim Molloy (Science Museum). The project will be part of the family of our ‘DreamLab’ online projects running in 2012 to over 40 leading Chinese universities.

Academic outcomes of the project and further dissemination of learning outcomes include: a report published by the Kingston University Academic Centre and featured on the 2012 website as an example of innovative teaching practice; a peer reviewed funding and project report (herein) prepared for ADM-HEA Brighton; a conference paper accepted at a Design Research conference 2012 in Bangkok.

Project Report Contents

I    Introduction and Overview

1.1 Identifying ‘Industry Questions’

1.2 Building on Experience: DreamLab

1.3 Formulating the Competition

1.4 Best Practice Research in Digital Content Creation

II   Delivery, Methodology and Production

2.1 CCD Brief and Project Schedule

2.2 Advice from Industry Practitioners

2.3 Delivery: Phase I (Networked Research and Development)

2.4 Delivery: Phase II (Project Completion, Judging and Legacy)

III CCD Project Assessment

3.1 Competition Criteria and Outcomes

3.2 Project Dialogue: Critical Evaluation

3.3 CCD Learning, Impact and Legacy 

Contact information

Professor Catherine McDermott, Course Director MA Curating Contemporary Design, School of Communication Design, Kingston University


Full report 

Images supplied by Catherine McDermott
Header image: sections from Figure 2: a general image representing the international nature of the project and Figure 3: The Oroborous team, curated and remixed in the style of their proposed collaboration.
Listing image: section from Figure 3 



Catherine McDermott, Kingston University


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23 Apr 2012