October 4, 2012
Welcome to my graphic design distance learning blog / exploration / reflective-confusing-invigorating project. Hopefully if all goes well this will lead me into a dissertation on distance learning graphic design pedagogy and eventually an EdD (and the feelings of arrival that I am sure must come with the addition of the magic letters D.R. before your name.) But–lest this seem to be only about me and my crazy need to augment my identity with the addition of a couple letters before my name–hopefully this project will also be a catalyst for bringing a bit more good to the world of distance education, specifically as it relates to graphic design.
Deep down I believe in distance education and I believe that distance learning can grow a designer who is every bit as competent, confident, and creative as a design who has gone all the way through a ground-based art school. That said, graphic design distance education in its current online format is in its infancy, doing lots of trial and error learnings, and the movement overall is desperately in need of empirical research. The majority of distance design programs now available are simply asynchronous copies of on-ground curriculum, completed on the students own time with minimal instructor interaction. While this method is remarkably convenient for both instructor and student, it lacks the necessary creative connection between teacher and student that is hallmark of all transformative learning experiences. This flexible learning methodology built on little to no real-time instructor/student interaction undermines the learning experience for the student, ultimately diminishing quality of education.
This should not be. Distance learning should not suggest a diminished, second-rate quality of design education but instead should be a great equalizer in access to learning resources, bringing high quality design education to all people willing to learn, regardless of their geographic location. But, in order for it to be this vibrant equalizer, distance learning must become become an entity on its own and seek to learn from but not directly copy it’s more established ground school siblings.
Having both worked in the distance education field and received my MFA through the distance ed division of a massive on-ground art school, I am uniquely positioned to ask these questions, do this research, and be part of ensuring that distance education students in the future receive the best quality education possible.
It will be for sure an interesting journey and I hope it will end in new discoveries that do indeed bring good. So, it is with great excitement and a somewhat rapidly beating heart that I begin this new process. Here’s to the next couple years, new learnings, and the adventure…whatever it may hold.