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Industrial Design instructor uses gaming platform for virtual classroom

Apr 24, 2020

In MIAD adjunct faculty Julian Hurrle’s computer-aided industrial design course, students learn how to use SolidWorks 3D modeling software, an essential tool in their career field. When pivoting to online learning, Hurrle set up a virtual classroom in Discord, a popular application used by PC gaming communities. 

Student photo and design

JD Byrne ’21 (Industrial Design) and a controller design project from this semester’s course

“We’re using Discord and that’s been fantastic. We’ve livestreamed tutorial videos from our professor to the entire class and we ask questions from the comfort of our couches,” says JD Byrne ’21 (Industrial Design). 

Sub-channels for the class provide portals for students to submit screenshots of their models in progress and have text or voice discussions. Students also can share their screens with the instructor or use a sub-channel for individual discussions with the instructor, providing one-on-one interaction and helping walk students through different aspects of the program.

Product Design virtual class

View of virtual classroom in Discord where students share work in progress

“This program is doing the exact thing I do in the lab at MIAD, but from my screen at home with a microphone,” says Hurrle.

Hurrle reports that attendance for the class is excellent, and all of the students have been in the channel and watching the livestreams. Hurrle also records the lectures and posts them on a shared drive for students to access outside of class when they need to review the content.