The first course any newly admitted graphic design pro school students takes as part of their new cohort is GD 200: Technology and Production. This course was initial envisioned as a level-setting tool, to get all students in a single cohort up to the same level of competency in design software, so that conversations and assignments would be equitable going forward. Some students come to the program with significant experience in the Adobe Creative Suite, while others have rarely opened the software. But beyond using the tools, it’s necessary for students to understand that the process of design does not begin with the computer at all. The hands-on, exploratory, process-based, active thinking skills required have been getting the short shrift in the current version of the course.
Upon transitioning to hybrid format, the process of organizing the content revealed several areas where improvement in continuity and integration could be achieved. The course consists of a series of textbook-based technical exercises that allow the students to explore individual tools within three Adobe programs, paired with longer-term creative illustration and design exercises that incorporate design process with the tools. The course culminates in the design of a travel poster and brochure for a national park.
In order to better link the necessary but somewhat dry textbook lessons with the creative projects, the hybrid version of the course will employ in-person workshops, where the instructor will walk the students through the process of concepting and strategizing a designed project. Then, the learning will swing back to the online environment, where students will post drafts and process work in a discussion format, and give each other written critique. Interaction on projects will in this way integrate the activities done in class with the online delivery, offering further touchpoints with each student, and more coherently guiding them through the process of creation.
The switch to hybrid delivery was key for identifying better use of class time, and for adding structure to a course that lacked structure in the past. For 2nd year students who are not yet accustomed to the design process, this new format will be important for setting them up for success in both this class and future courses in the department.
This class sounds awesome and seems like a great way to balance the in person and online elements. Can you give us a little bit more insight into how you’re planning to do the written feedback that students give each other?
Sure, students will be receiving specific instruction during the first 2 weeks of class on appropriate terms and behavior in a design critique setting. They will have experienced a form of critique in their art foundations courses during their first year, but design critique is slightly different. It’s an activity that is foundational to design pedagogy, so it’s really crucial that they understand it. I’m planning to have the students post their drafts in discussions, rather than assignments, so that the work is viewable all, as it would be in an in-person critique setting. They will be assigned to offer feedback using agreed upon terminology to 2 or 3 of their fellow students, using written comments.