interakcije split interactions

Research and Education

19 - 20 March 2009

Department of Visual
Communications Design,
Arts Academy,
University of Split


In March 2009, 18 invited practitioners, researchers and academics from the field of Interaction Design gathered at the University of Split, Croatia. The purpose of the event was to discuss linkages between research and education and to provide a unique opportunity for researchers and practitioners to meet. The symposium had the objective of enabling participants to present their own research/practice experience and explore opportunities for building collaborations and sharing best practice in the nascent field of Interaction Design.

Participants were drawn from the fields of art, architecture and design and shared a common desire to exploit the latest computing technologies and interactive techniques in their creative practice. A major focus of the event was the relationship between research and creative practice and the resulting effect on educational practice. Participants had the opportunity to discuss the state of the art in the field, specifically focusing on the recent practices and trends in Interaction Design education and research at university level and how these could be articulated into, and be informed by, creative practice.

The day began with an introductory talk from Ivica Mitrović, the local coordinator of the Symposium. Each participant then had an opportunity to make a short presentation detailing their work and how they felt that it connected to Interaction Design. Lunch provided a break point where participants could relax and chat informally. At the conclusion of these presentations there was a round table discussion, moderated by Michael Smyth, that sought to address the following questions:

  • How do academics and practitioners make links?
  • Where do interaction designers get their funding?
  • Where do interaction designers find work?
  • What skills do interaction designers need?
  • How do we create meaningful academic courses?
  • What courses are there in the EU?
  • What is the role of interns/joint projects/supervisions?
  • Where should interaction design courses reside, design, computing or somewhere else?
  • What networking events are aimed at interaction designers?
  • How is interaction design research and practice disseminated?

The round table discussions provided an opportunity for participants to share experiences and to become more aware of each others aspirations for the field of interaction design and critically the differences in approach that appeared to reflect the multi-disciplinary backgrounds of participants. An example of such a divergence was the discussion that centred on how interaction design should be taught – studio based or lecture based? Those from a design background favoured a more studio-based approach while those from an engineering background were more familiar with lecture based teaching.

One of the most interesting features of the symposium was that it provided a forum for two existing networks to meet, the Royal College of Art alumni and the CONVIVIO alumni. Where previously these networks had operated largely in parallel the symposium provided each with a glimpse of the other and hopefully a bridging point between them.

Post symposium a feedback questionnaire was sent to all participants and the general responses that emerged were as follows:

  • That people attended in order to meet people working in the field of interaction design and to establish personal networks with a view to future collaborations.
  • One day was too short – next event should be 2 days and so allow more time for discussion and social/inform events.
  • Symposium provided a good mechanism to exchange ideas.
  • Use of break out groups in future events.

In conclusion, the symposium met its main objective in that it brought together 18 leading young European practitioners and researchers from the field of Interaction Design. Connections were established, old connections were renewed and new ones were formed and while differences were apparent what was clear was the need for further events and that the Split Symposium should mark a beginning rather than become an isolated event.

Possible outcomes of the symposium might include: join proposals (EU projects), joint exhibitions of work, workshops and summer schools, visiting positions within universities, internships, shared practice etc.