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finding what graphic design distance education has lost….

December 20, 2012

lisa hammershaimb

….I agree with your perspective on me possibly being behind but I feel that some of that has to do with being in an on-line design school verse a traditional design school.  I have friends that attended traditional design school and when we compare school experience, they are shocked at how much is lost in this online environment verses the traditional ground school environment.  If you look at most of the work in the portfolios posted everyone is posting the same work because we have very little to know time to work on their own unique concepts to successfully brand and market themselves when leaving school.
—Response from one of my Portfolio Students in Art Institute Pittsburgh, Online Division
Hmmm…..this is disturbing to me because in so, so many ways it is quite true. But, it shouldn’t be true. It shouldn’t matter that his education is online versus traditional ground and yet it does. This makes me say even more that what I am doing matters and is indeed not just about me or my current students but about the future and about the credibility of graphic design distance education industry wide.

At what point is this the system’s failing and at what point is this the individual student’s failing? Are distance education students less motivated because they don’t have the physical presence of an instructor, prodding them and glaring at them when they slack off? Conversely can they be more successful because they have to draw on some sort of internal well from which to succeed because no one is making them do it…only them? How much is the system responsible? How much are instructors responsible? How much is the student responsible? Do all instructors not just put up the define the boundaries of the playground and then leave the actual activity engagement up to the students?

And yet (here’s the deep, dark, shameful secret that I fear) is it the instructors themselves who see distance education as a pale substitute for ground school and thus aren’t giving it their all? Is it instructors themselves who don’t see the two as being equal-yet-different in potential impact? And is that attitude being somehow transmuted over time and space to the students? Have we as instructors lost our hold on the grace and truth that must both be present in any transformative learning experience and are our students paying the price?


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