The Pandemic and This Issue of Design Education


  • Jae-Eun Oh Hong Kong Polytechnic University
  • Francesco Zurlo Politecnico di Milano





When we first initiated a call for this issue on design education, never could we have imagined or foreseen what lay ahead. Since late 2019, Hong Kong has gone through an enormously difficult time. First, spikes of social unrest, rapidly followed by COVID-19. Half of the first semester of the 2019 – 2020 academic year, as skirmishes closed in on The Hong Kong Polytechnic University campus, all courses had to move over to available and often misunderstood online platforms. As the situation finally subsided, the virus emerged, impacting the commencement of the second semester, and the overall delivery modes of a structured curriculum for an entire year.

Both faculty and students of the School of Design lived and worked in high hopes to return to faceto- face teaching sooner, rather than later. In time, hope conceded to a stark reality that online, the virtual and the digital models of education, have moved into focus as the main and primary modes of education. Long gone are the days of the digital as a mere supplemental or peripheral possibility.

The digital reality presented other challenges to design education: ensuring credible and authentic outcomes for each of the design disciplines within a non-studio setting, the expression of ideas, or demonstrating principles across and through digital platforms with the additional burdens of a digital generation that instantaneously become camera shy. Or, in the extreme the mistrust shown by students that reviewers may not understand the design work without a physical presence.

Moving one year forward, the growing pains of digital pedagogies has caused an instantaneous maturing of educators, those being educated, and of what is said, shown and discussed. Somehow, the global body of design environments have collectively responded to these and more local challenges, yet again transforming the specifics of digital pedagogies across unexplored territories.

The following series of images attest to the resilience of digital pedagogies and design institutions. May this stand as a testament to rapid responses, individuals who took the reins, and how educators shape the future of design, design-research and ultimately how design is carried forward across generations.

How to Cite

Oh, J.-E., & Zurlo, F. (2021). The Pandemic and This Issue of Design Education. Cubic Journal, 4(4), 16–19.



Author Biography

Jae-Eun Oh, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dr. Jae-Eun Oh is an assistant professor and a program leader for BA (Hons) in Digital Media at the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She received an MFA from the School of TV, Film and Media Department, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and a Doctorate from Department of Film, Performance, and Animation, Sejong University, South Korea. Before moving to Hong Kong, she has held teaching positions in South Korea and Singapore in higher educational institutes. Her research interests lie primarily in the area of animation storytelling, theme park attractions where they adopt animation content to attract visitors and animation nostalgia. Besides animation related research field, another research area of hers demonstrates how to motivate creative media students in the studio/project-based learning where they learn to create their media artefacts. She is a recipient of a Massive Online Open Course fund (HKD $1million) Design Thinking in collaboration with Dr. Henry Ma.