I redesigned the catalog of the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey this month. I took it as a chance to refresh the brand. As the Director of the Studio School, I need to make sure I am reaching and hearing all the people for whom I hope to serve. This catalog, along with the website and other communications, is my program’s lifeline. Motif The Art Center connects all levels of art makers to each other and the world. I started playing with these fairly oblique geometric shapes connecting elements to each other in the background. I will pull that thread until I find a way to talk about the entire organization: contemporary art museum, studio school, and community resource. I chose the color as a starting point as I venture through the spectrum until we all settle on a solid color story. In essence, I hope to gently beta test a few elements while I promote all that the Art Center already has in abundance: engaged staff, spectacular museum programming, great instructors, and a solid core of students and visitors. My goal is to …
I have worked and reworked the Interactive / Web 1 class a few times over the last couple of years. It is now the core of my approach to teaching interaction design thinking: I use the foundation of empathic research and altruistic design to push my students to create work that can get them noticed in the job market. These students are in the AAS Program in the Art, Media & Technology Department at Parsons The New School. I have the students go through the entire design cycle at a rapid pace so that we have time to also develop our pitches for the last day: I strive to have my students learn not only to think of lovely and useful ideas, but also have the tools to get those ideas made. Each student must produce the artifacts of the Design Cycle amidst numerous check ins, small group crits, and work sessions. By the end of the semester, each student has a full blown case study of her idea, ready for portfolio or actual development.
I have worked and reworked the Interactive / Web 1 class a few times over the last couple of years. It is now the core of my approach to teaching interaction design thinking: I use the foundation of empathic research and altruistic design to push my students to create work that can get them noticed in the job market. I have the students go through the entire design cycle at a rapid pace so that we have time to also develop our pitches for the last day: I strive to have my students learn not only to think of lovely and useful ideas, but also have the tools to get those ideas made. In order to help my students really explore motion, I introduce animated gifs as a fast and fun means to get the pump primed. Sometimes, students go CRAZY with them. And sometimes they go crazy twice.
The Type Manual project continues: we put our entire planned layout up on a wall to see what we needed to zero in on in terms of instruction and research. The class helped me shape tomorrow’s class, wherein I will teach specific lessons to help the teams complete their sections well. The crit cards are starting to really work as well: everyone is getting up and talking to someone new each class that we can fit it in. There is true hubbub and noise during lab time. They are starting to really inhabit the process as collaborators. I am trying to demystify the process of creation at every turn–I want them to see how the effort is theirs to make. It is half way through the semester and I’d say at least 85% of the class is still showing up with their homework. At least 85%. I am blown away, usually about half of my classes drift into various stages of distraction, exhaustion, or maybe a little indifference by this point. This time, I am making them …
I have been invited to do a rather impromptu 3 week intensive at Parsons, teaching an introduction to Interaction Design. I have been teaching this subject from all sorts of different directions, so this is a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with students. These are all self-selected volunteers who expressed a need for some reinforcement. I am so honored to have been asked to helm the workshop for them. More to come!
I taught Information Design for the WWW this semester. I designed the class so students got to go through two design cycles: the first was an accelerated one as the students worked in groups so we could go through the motions in a low-risk way. Students moved on to their own ideas, going through every phase, developing artifacts such as personas, sitemaps, wireframes, interviews, all while developing a look and feel. I had the students also work on how they would present their ideas at the end of the semester. Amazingly, some students went so far as to develop Kickstarter-esque videos. I tried to help the students get used to the idea that they could come up with, develop, and promote an idea of their own. They delivered. Syllabus
This fall, I taught Interactive / Web Design 1 at Parsons. I reworked my approach so we could really concentrate on the thinking behind developing a cohesive website strategy. The students each developed a project to help others, then we walked through the stages of interaction design with an emphasis on research and strategic thinking. Students were expected to produce a card sort, rough sketches, sitemaps, wireframes, and sketches for a responsive website (only 2 break points). We went over additional artifacts such as style sheets and some introduction to code. I have found that having student concentrate on altruistic projects actually helps them produce better design. They are ofter too early in their career to have the confidence and circumspection to make projects about themselves, including portfolios. Syllabus Overall, I was blown away by the level of compassion and thoughtfulness my students were able to summon in 15 weeks.
I was invited back to Parsons for a second semester of Interactive / Web Design 1, and once again the students were brilliant. I did have a few more critical student comments from this group than ever: a few students found I was too easy and joked around too much. I think overall they may have been right–the group was exceptional, and I should have ratcheted up the instruction far more, pushed them harder. I had gotten very used to focusing on the lower third of my classes at other schools in an attempt to keep students engaged, but when you have a group that is not about to leave, you have to adapt completely. Lesson learned. The class developed services they would like to create to change the world in some small way, did research, performed a competitive analysis, then went on into a full design cycle with information architecture, style guides, and eventually designs for a responsive site. We did three breakpoints: full screen, tablet, and phone. I encouraged students to use animated gifs to work …
I taught the Visual Design section, was brought back by the students at the end by a vote to help wrap up the final presentations. Class Description This 105-hour certificate teaches user experience methods and best design strategies through a structured process of inquiry, research, development, and ongoing review of site environments, app tools, and other types of virtual experiences and products. UX designers occupy the critical nexus between user needs, business goals, and brand identity.
I designed several in-depth print pieces for New Leaders. It was an intense exercise in truly absorbing massive amounts of information (READ EVERYTHING, designers!) under a very tight deadline. My work was used to guide hundreds of educators in Connecticut.