The current undergraduate graphic design curriculum at the College of Design, like others in the country, introduces its students to the field through a fundamental year of art, form, rules, exploration, and little or basic software use. As the pedagogical experience progresses into sophomore year, students move, within the timeframe of 2 months, from custom methodological ways of working within a handmade environment into an automatized, software dependent sterile digital scenario.
Design concepts are still explored through the making of artifacts, yet this very process now relies on the manipulation of software tools for their very execution. Previous experience on creative software platforms shapes many of the student’s individual experiences, some having an easier time than others. No matter the case, the commonality between all levels of expertise becomes them having to learn it.
Learning software moves to the forefront of the student’s interests. Pressure is exerted on the professors to teach the various platforms required for successful execution. Teaching strategies, ranging from in-class demos, to online tutorials, and even reference books, become a hindrance to the students, while one-to-one gesture based exchanges between them seem to provide a more stable source of growth and understanding. How can online digital tools help with this learning process? Could such tools offer a possible platform for pedagogical reinterpretation? Would a grassroots approach to software instruction lead to a flourishing of its understanding?
The last few months I’ve working around these issues. All of my projects have concentrated around the struggles of sophomore graphic design students at the College of Design as they experience the initial steps of learning software. Community, values, needs and outcomes have been studied, tested… and hopefully address. As final review gets near, now its time to polish the projects into presentable shape. More to come…