Learning to mill, drill and sew? Play!

Making-of moment from the shooting of a learning video for the digital teaching tool “Design Studio.” Photograph: Andreas Kohli

Videos instead of textbooks: a cooperative project of the Bachelor in Art Education translates teaching materials for art and design lessons into the medium of Generation Z. “Design Studio” comprises 150 video tutorials, whose creation and production have involved more than eighty staff and students from various disciplines.


A teenager is sitting at a sewing machine and stitching a hem. Two cameras are directed at her, while the room is illuminated by studio lighting. On two screens, a lecturer and a student are observing events. The scene forms part of a project dedicated to redesigning the teaching of textile and technical design. No manuals, no worksheets, no paper: “Design Studio” is the first exclusively digital teaching aid produced by the Lehrmittelverlag Zürich (LMVZ). Released in 2021, the aid was created jointly by ZHdK’s Bachelor in Art Education and University of Teacher Education Lucerne. It is designed for mobile devices and includes ten modular design projects and 150 learning videos.

Digital goes classroom?

To begin with, the pilot project, situated in the field of digital teaching materials, largely lacked reference products. It raised fundamental questions: Are teachers willing to allow students to use mobile devices during lessons? Would digital teaching materials need to be supported by classical print media? From the outset, these uncertainties were outweighed by clear opportunities. “Young people are used to getting know-how via YouTube tutorials. By offering video tutorials at school, we can ensure that contents are sound and befit the school setting,” says Andreas Kohli, a professor at the Bachelor in Art Education and responsible for planning and implementing the project with Stefan Wettstein. “Besides, distribution is state-of-the-art and simple: students can use the teaching aids in their free time.”

Timeless inspiration

Lasting several years and involving over 80 people, “Design Studio” was complex and demanded rolling planning. “Producing the materials brought together competencies from art education, design and film — partly through specially initiated projects, partly as part of teaching modules,” says Peter Truniger, head of the Bachelor in Art Education. Together with the core team of lecturers and research assistants, Bachelor in Art Education students were tasked with making technical preparations, providing production assistance and, above all, for performing in front of the camera. Cast and Film students took charge of cinematography, lighting and post-production. In this interdisciplinary setting, all 150 video tutorials were shot in ZHdK workshops. “The tutorials differ from common YouTube formats by deliberately restraining clothing, hairstyles and scenography: the claim that the tutorials will remain usable for the next 15 years required timeless design,” says Kohli. The absence of background music also points subtly to the teaching context.

Whether brazing, 3D printing, embroidery, sawing, grinding or casting: the learning videos cover the most diverse areas of textile and technical design. “The resulting variety and the quality of the tutorials set new standards in terms of carefully stimulating autonomous learning based on stringent didactic principles,” sums up Stefan Wettstein. In the current school year, clicking a button will enable secondary school students to delve into the processes and possibilities offered by sewing and other machines. As a bonus, all ZHdK staff and students can freely access these in-house productions. The workshops are calling!

“Design Studio” is available since autumn 2021 for secondary school grades 1–3 in a completely digital form. The teaching aid can also be used by private individuals. ZHdK staff and students can freely access the approximately 150 video tutorials (dedicated to the processes and handling of machines in the ZHdK workshops) via the Media Archive.
Martina Egli (martina.egli@zhdk.ch) is responsible for communications at the Department of Cultural Analysis at ZHdK.
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