Virtual design studios (VDS) provide new possibilities as well as challenges regarding how to facilitate collaborative designing between students, and furthermore, how to support participatory design processes with end-users of the product. Based on the knowledge building pedagogy as well as our previous research concerning design expertise we have developed the model to facilitate design processes and students’ design thinking (figure 1).
Figure 1. Progressive inquiry model of collaborative designing (Seitamaa-Hakkarainen)
The center of the model is distributed expertise and collaboration. In the progressive inquiry model of collaborative designing, it is essential to integrate the expertise of the design team with that of specialized experts related to domain in question, and well as that of prospective end users of the product. The idea is that all participants are working to develop the shared design object by sharing their expertise socially in the VDS.
The process starts from all participants performing a joint analysis of the design task or design context. In this stage, the external domain experts and prospective end users have a critical role in defining and determining the various physiological, psychological, and emotional aspects central to the design of the product. During the framing of the design context, various, sometimes conflicting factors that affect the design process and define its requirements need to be taken into consideration. By acquiring deepening knowledge, sharing that knowledge socially, producing varying design ideas and evaluating those ideas the design process progress cyclically forward. One central aspect of the design process is a designer’s way of using a variety of visual representations, written notes, and graphical models for representing, developing, and storing emerging ideas and her way of subjecting these to scrutiny, assessment, and development.