Dr. Brandon McFarlane

Document Type


Publication Date



engineering design, engineering communication, creativity, imagination, intersubjectivity, collaborative learning, pedagogy, CSCL, CALL, emergency online education, transdisciplinary


Engineering design and communication courses are typically dynamic, active learning spaces that bring together a complex array of knowledge and skills. Their ambiguous nature has allowed, often contentiously, subjects such as language and communication, the arts, the humanities and the social sciences to enter the discourse of engineering in a newly meaningful way. This paper considers this development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in particular how the creativity and imagination required to succeed in engineering design might be cultivated in emergency distance learning. I consider a plethora of sources for guidance, with a special interest in how language and communication facilitates collaborative learning, creativity, and intersubjectivity and how that mediation is further mediated by educational technology in distance learning. I focus on the challenges faced, and the resulting importance of training for both instructors and students. Finally, I argue that despite our difficult circumstances, we should aim to encourage our students to exercise their imaginations, both independently and collaboratively, through our selection, framing and facilitation of team design projects during the pandemic.


Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences (FHASS)


University of Toronto Quarterly


Special Issue on The Creative Humanities



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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.