The Journalism Design project aims to develop tools to teaching design methods to journalism students in a way that equips them for future careers. Clearly, journalism is at a point of radical change and to remain viable it needs to create new news formats and experiences that are not bound by traditional newsroom practices. This means that journalism education needs strategies to teach students how to come up with novel and creative ways to use technology.

We see Interaction Design (IxD) is the way to achieve this. IxD is a practice-led research approach that is good for solving complex problems and designing new ways for people to interact with technology. IxD is people centred and aims to create ideas for specific contexts. This means it is an approach that can accommodate, and design for, the underlying values of journalism.

At UQ we have been teaching design to aspiring journalists for some time, and this current research project extends that initiative by creating teaching resources. We’re planning to create a framework that students can follow and a guide for teaching staff.

Currently interaction design concepts are introduced to UQ journalism students via lectures and readings. However, there is a dearth of literature related to journalism and design, with only one study that demonstrates the process. So although the journalism students are comfortable with qualitative research methods such as interview or survey that designers use to gather data, the journalism cohort lacks experience using more specific design techniques such as sketching, wireframing, low-fidelity prototyping, and user testing. This tends to restrict their engagement in the process and means they cannot develop the “designerly” way of working that enable designers to imagine new possibilities.

In the past, this has manifested among some journalism students as being unsure what to do. They resolve this by investing effort into tasks such as report writing that are more familiar to them but less conducive to learning about design and how to incorporate journalistic values. So the aim of this project is to research and develop a framework, in the form of a downloadable template and instructions, that steps journalism students and educators through the design process; introduces relevant tools and techniques; and, crucially, encourages them to integrate underlying values from their own discipline.

From a teaching perspective, this project might be seen as an example of integrative learning, in that it aims to encourage strategic points of connection between disciplines and link domains that are not typically connected. This ability to draw on knowledge from one field but have literacy in and ability to draw on understanding from understanding from multiple disciplines is seen as an important skill in equipping workers to meet the challenges of future work.