Design Thinking Methods and Creative Technologies in Virtual Worlds
Globalization and the virtualization of business has highlighted the challenges of managing a dispersed team and have encouraged further research into the benefits of face-to-face communications and how that might be simulated in a virtual world. It is anticipated that high profile research and development projects, such as Oculus Rift, and High Fidelity, could see a revived interest in virtual reality and virtual worlds and how these could augment design thinking for online collaboration. The research project was informed by a review of the literature with relevance to design thinking, the virtual, co-design, human centered design, and tacit knowledge sharing. This research project examined how virtual teams could use prototype tools and modes of design thinking by geographically dispersed groups within a shared virtual space. More specifically, it examined how teams of creative technologies students both apply and learn design thinking, by creating and using collaborative tools, designed in a virtual world, to be used in a virtual learning environment. The undergraduate students studying a design major in business will be asked to engage in a transdisciplinary dialogue with students from another school of creative technologies using the context of a virtual world. The research follows a constructivist approach to teaching the business students design collaboration to review the benefits of face-to-face collaboration, and how that might be simulated online in a virtual world using those tools and methods. The study demonstrates innovation in a number of ways through virtual collaboration between diverse students of business and creative technologies using design thinking methods and methodology. The paper will also present how business students understand design thinking and illustrate the barriers to innovation in a virtual simulation through iterative prototyping virtual tools that encourage co-design and human centered design. The paper concludes with some findings from the data collected during the research project, with some early commentary and discussion of those findings.