Collaborative Learning in an Online-only Design for Manufacturability Course

Taylor Tucker, Nattasit Dancholvichit, Leon Liebenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


In contemporary design-for-manufacturability education, the use of design-thinking (or human-centered design) and team-based design projects are ubiquitous. Students are typically taken on a journey to better appreciate synthesis of the “big picture” while learning to consider an open-ended manufacturability problem from various perspectives and discovering the value in empathy and co-creation. However, with the onset of online-only modes of instruction to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic, meaningful collaborative learning has become challenging. Students regularly cite the lack of social interaction as a main reason for poor virtual teamwork and tend to display entrenched preference for face-to-face interactions to perform ideation and to understand or resolve issues, which hampers the use of online counterparts. However, online learning has brought to light several digital platforms that are easily customizable for online collaboration among students. When it comes to virtual ideation (or virtual “brainstorming”), effective generation of new ideas or concepts is difficult. Social media platforms like WeChat, GroupMe, and Discord are beneficial for high-level idea sharing; Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms might be similarly helpful. Still, engineering students tend to have trouble when using computer-aided drawing platforms that do not allow interactive collaboration in real-time (e.g. Fusion 360). Instructors also must contend with student apprehension to use unfamiliar digital tools. Among online collaborative platforms, Miro may pose a solution to these challenges, as it allows for synchronous interaction and captures essential elements of a face-to-face ideation environment. This platform could also facilitate empathy-mapping and journey-mapping labs, where team members would capture the team's combined user knowledge and map-out user attitudes, behaviors, needs, and pain points. This study investigates if and how the use of the Miro virtual ideation platform affects ideation of small teams of engineering students (n = 65) in a sophomore-level design-for-manufacturability course. Questionnaires were used to evaluate 1) students' perceived cognitive and emotional engagement when using Miro, 2) Miro's utility in authentically subjecting students to aspects of design-thinking, and 3) the degree of psychological safety in Miro's virtual collaborative environment. The effective use of online ideation tools, like Miro, is of paramount importance when engineering students are collaborating in an online-only learning environment. Findings from this study will provide insight toward the utility in adopting Miro (or similar platforms) for such purposes as well as help identify psychological issues that could be suitably addressed when using online collaborative platforms such as Miro. This study contributes to the body of knowledge pertaining to effective student engagement during online or hybrid modes of education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Collaborative Learning in an Online-only Design for Manufacturability Course'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this