Broadening design-led education horizons: conceptual insights and future research directions

  • Natalie WrightEmail author
  • Cara Wrigley


Design as an overarching pedagogical framework has been regarded by some as the avenue to re-envision general education to develop capabilities required for twenty-first century citizens. However, despite the adoption of design thinking within other domains, generic design-based education for lifelong learning remains largely unexplored. A comprehensive review of literature on educating a workforce for the knowledge economy, and the role of design in business and educational innovation, has been conducted to create a new approach to building a culture of practice for design-led education, based on the theory of the Innovation Matrix. This study proposes ‘design-led educational innovation’ as a new area of research which requires a deeper understanding of the knowledge, skills and mindsets students require to thrive in the twenty-first century and beyond as lifelong learners in informal and formal education contexts. The findings provide an opportunity to explore dynamic theories and methodologies borrowed from within the field of design-led innovation in business that will broaden the horizons of design-led education, challenging existing practices to transform educational institutions as knowledge creation organisations. This is the first paper to introduce the Design-led Education Innovation Matrix, providing a prototype design-led framework to assist educators in developing and assessing twenty-first century knowledge, skills and mindsets. In addition, it identifies related future research areas for academia, thereby extending the reach and scope of this emerging research area.


Creative knowledge economy Design education Secondary education Design thinking Educational innovation Lifelong learning Twenty-first century skills 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of DesignQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Sydney School of Architecture, Design and PlanningThe University of SydneyDarlingtonAustralia

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