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DAY 4: iterations make the world go round…

January 30, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

So…I’ve come to the conclusion that this whole process is way way way easier than I think it is. I already know what I need to study, the resources are already out there, I already have an epistemology and ontology that guide my every day, and there is indeed a strong, compelling set of questions to guide this whole process.

The only snag in things is the fact that I have yet to find the right combination of puzzle pieces to make the image reveal itself….the right pathway to reveal this research nirvana. For the past three weeks I’ve been shifting and moving and changing the ordering and rearranging things and getting excited and getting overwhelmed and getting equal parts elated and frustrated with the whole process. It’s all there and it’s so close I can (and think have) touched it a couple times but it’s so so elusive trying to narrow these ideas. I wish my brain could just print out my own analytics, I could review them, draw some compelling conclusions, and call it a day. Why is there not yet a Google product for that? Why has Google Scholar not created that update? Honestly, I would gladly let my webcam scan my thoughts if it could pull together what seems just out of reach.

And yet, just like I tell my design students (and just like I tell myself in my better moments) ideas don’t just emerge from the clouds…they emerge from work and work and more work. I’ve put in 3 weeks at this…21 days…pretty much nothing in the grand scheme of work. I’ve found lots of dead or half-baked paths. Great! The exploration is good and necessary and it all sounds so good in my head and feels so terrible in my real life story. I want to both tell the optimistic Lisa to shut up and embrace her for her pragmatism.

And still what remains is the work. Back to looking at all these pieces again and trying another composition and trying another arrangement and seeing if maybe that would make it click..that would make all things communicate the right messages. And if not, another day and another try and another chance.

This is not a hardship to play with such wonderfully rich, abstract ideas (whose lifespans stretch far beyond my own) while drinking rye and sitting wrapped in a fur blanket on my couch in front of the fireplace. This is, at its core, such a tremendous blessing. I forget sometimes but indeed, I am right where I need to be. The ideas are right there waiting. And for a short time, I get to be the explorer and who knows what unexpected places I may yet stumble into.

So…back to work.

detangling paradigms…

January 28, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

I’ll be the first to admit that when I think about paradigms, epistemology, and ontology all that really comes into my mind is a tangle of large words with no real connections together. I know in my head that they all build together because I’ve seen the clever animated PowerPoint Slides that seem to show that, but as far as personally constructing anything….yeah, my own assemblage is more like an abstract expressionist painting than a Dutch master.

But…I’ve just found this website created by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and it looks like a winner in writing paradigms in real people explanations. The Qualitative Research Guidelines Project…nice indeed.

DAY 1: looking for answers…

January 27, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

So today I discovered that there are people out there researching studio learning methods and studio practices and even the pedagogy of learning in community and how awesome it is and how maybe it could even work with disciplines other than traditional fine/applied arts. I am stoked to read everything I can get into my little iPad screen because it makes me feel like there is actual merit to my own ideas…I’m not reinventing the wheel, just showing how it might roll along in another context or situation. I also discovered this great thing called “tacit knowledge.” Seriously…we’re all tacit knowledge experts if you know where to look and how to ask the right questions to reveal it. So yeah…I think today was filled with a couple larger positive turns and I think in the not too distant future I’m going to take the very scary step of sharing these ideas in an email and see how they distill out. Ironic right that I have no fears about sharing them on the internet because it feels so wonderfully cavernous and anonymous but sending an email feels like I’m rooting down…feels like I’m staking a claim and saying that this matters to me. And even more crazy…it does.

What follows is the wet paint…digital, yet still very open to fingerprints, smears, smudges, mixing, etc.

My area of research interest:
1. Tacit knowledge transfer in an online studio space

  • How does it work?
  • What is the experience like?
  • What channels does it utilize?

2. Learning Communities when studio cultures relocate to online environments or how learning occurs in horizontal communities rather than vertical instructor-oriented hierarchy

Why is this area important from a big perspective?
I’ve read a couple articles recently that have studied the positive effects of studio culture in arts-based college programs. Because studios are safe places with high levels of reflection, feedback, and group learning through critiques it is thought that they are particularly effective at helping designers “not just learn about” but also “learn to be”. The sharing of ideas produces self confidence and modeling of instructors engaging in process helps students get an insider view of industry tacit knowledge.

But how does tacit knowledge regarding design develop when the studio moves from a physical to online space? How do faculty-student interactions produce design knowledge and designer self efficacy when the studio space moves from being a shared physical location, hosted by an instructor, to an online interface ultimately mediated by a computer interface? Does the studio experience remain fundamental to the educational experience if there is no physical studio space?

Many schools are moving part or all of their delivery online in order to reach a broader base of students or cut down on their physical infrastructure needs and traditionally studio focused programs are also beginning to transition. This area of research is vital if online delivery programs are going to keep up high level of quality and produce not only students with functional program+software skills, but also who are confident as professionals.
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a day in the life…

January 27, 2014

lisa hammershaimb


breaking down assignment 1, part 1…

January 27, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

Step 1:  Describe your area of research interest.
(So what? Who cares? Why is this area of investigation interesting and important, both personally and from a scholarly perspective? AND What are my own assumptions about the nature of reality and being, aka ontology? What are my assumptions about the nature of knowledge and knowing, aka epistemology?)

Step 2: Choose TWO research paradigms that resonate with you and are suited to your research interest
(Why these two in particular? What does their unique energy bring to the research party?)

Step 3: Show how the different research paradigms shape research questions (3 to 5-ish)
(You’ve identified the strong suits of the paradigms above…now break out the questions that emerge from them! Don’t over think things…you’ve already done the hard work.)

Easy, right? hahaa….

Day 5: the 10 minute challenge

January 24, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

Alright….I’ve slacked off enough for two days and am feeling bits of guilt and rebellion regarding my lack of writing (though in my defense, I have been thinking lots and senior AD training and engaging in intentional community and doing all sorts of things to justify not writing). So…10 minutes before the X Games broadcast starts is totally enough time to write 300-500 words about vaguely academic stuff, no?


The 802 Assignment 1 research question is what’s been running in the back of my mind for the past few days and what I want quite badly to formulate in a cohesive enough version to have something to run past the cohort and George by the beginning of next week because the whole assignment is due in just over a month…and yeah, by that time it needs to be full baked. But it feels like the more I think about it the bigger it all grows and I need to nail it down but I am feeling super non-commital because I don’t want to nail it down before I should and…yeah, I’m just wasting time and calling it exploring. Or maybe I am legit processing and filtering….who knows.

So, here’s what I’m interested in:

  • Curriculum
  • Instructors
  • Students
  • Graphic Design
  • Face to Face Studio Culture versus Online Studio Culture
  • Self Efficacy
  • Growing into yourself as a designer
  • teaching students to see multiple correct answers to any question or creative challenge
  • enforced independence (a la Rhizo 2014)

And…here are some questions:
How can graphic design online curriculum be designed to move students from relying on the instructor to give them the correct answer to being confident in contextually evaluating the situation and finding the best answer themselves?

What part of a curriculum or overall online class experience creates self efficacy?

How do students learn to think like designers as opposed to thinking like students?

How can programs build more independence into their design students yet still “teach” fundamental proficiency skills?

Does the lack of physical presence amongst design role models or mentors impact designer’s personal confidence in their skills? What role does physical proximity play in developing design students confidence and efficacy?

How can online classroom spaces more closely resemble the intimate, safe, personal studio spaces in which that design has been traditionally taught?

How can social media be used to replicate the intimacy and immediacy of a face to face studio?

DAY 3: Qualitative Questioning…

January 22, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

While doing class readings in Creswell’s Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches, I came across three potential research approaches to explore. So, in tonight’s writing I thought I’d reflect on each and try my hand at writing a question in the theme of each and see what happens. The chapter overall focuses on Research Questions and Hypotheses and summarizes qualitative and quantitative research and how to create a compelling qualitative research question or quantitative hypothesis to be tested. It’s interesting stuff and admittedly nothing I’ve had any familiarity with before.

What is a qualitative study?
An academic study that is more focused on getting understanding of the “why” and “how” of human behavior and decisions. Researchers in a qualitative study state questions rather than objectives or hypotheses.

My question:
Does this mean they are more open to the process rather than achieving a set of objectives? Or are objectives also needed but not as explicitly stated? Is a qualitative study more contextual and factor-focused as opposed to generality based?

How is a qualitative study structured?
The study begins with a Central Question. The Central Question is a broad question that asks for an exploration of the central concept in the study. The Central Question is very broad. To construct the Central Question researchers ask, “What is the broadest question I can ask in the study?”

In Qualitative Research, the intent is to explore the complex set of factors surrounding the central phenomenon and present the varied perspectives or meanings that participants hold.

What is my central phenomenon?

  • Learning via an online environment (how is knowledge of a hands-on nature passed along?)
  • Identity transformation (how do mindsets shift to designer status? how do students shift mindset from one correct answer to many creative possiblities?)

Some different research approaches…

(descriptive emphasis; based on interviews and specific people; asks about personal experience)

  • What is it like to learn a traditionally studio-based artistic discipline in an online classroom?
  • What is it like to learn a very “hands on” trade via an online format?

(like studying a people group, thus more culture focused)

  • How do transformative communities form in an online graphic design undergrad program?
  • How do graphic design students, with the absence of a traditional studio, gain self efficacy in their skills and creative vision?
  • How can curriculum be designed to move students from a positivist view to a post-positivist view of creativity in graphic design?
  • How do students view knowledge upon entry into the program and how does that shift as they progress?

(Use observation, analysis, interviews, etc. to come up with a theory of learning graphic design via online methods. Works opposite of other approaches as it gathers in everything then sifts and threshes it to see what might remain)

  • How do students develop as graphic designers in a fully online education format?
  • What concerns might be important to students who engage in a fully online graphic design education?
  • What is the process by which graphic design students interact in a fully online environment?
  • What is the process by which graphic design students learn how to be designers, outside of a traditional studio space, in a totally online environment?
  • What is the theory that explains the process of discovery for graphic design student learning in an online environment?

So…those are the big three I’ve explored thus far. I’m kind of taken by the grounded theory idea but it sounds really hard and really complicated and totally scary. That said, I love that you’d first collect everything and then see what emerges because it has that element of unexpectedness to it. I think one of the harder things about this exercise is being so broad. I was thinking I needed to be as narrow as possible with this but in reality open is much much better because it allows you to explore the wide fringe connections you might otherwise dismiss.

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Chapter 2: Philosophical, paradigm, and interpretive frameworks (pp. 15-34).

DAY 2: rambles & choices…

January 21, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

I’ve decided, almost certainly, to accept the position…Lisa Hammershaimb, Senior Associate Dean. Wow…three years ago I was prepping to finish grad school, praying for a teaching post so I could give up my in-house graphic design job and work from wherever, whenever. I came to this field because I wanted autonomy…little did I know I would fall so deep for distance education. And then some fairly significant bumps and road twists would bring me to being both a doctoral student and someone in senior leadership…at just barely 32. Hahaa….life, you are indeed a crazy wonderful thing.

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DAY 1: being in a muddle…

January 20, 2014

lisa hammershaimb

…back to Monday and back to work. I was gone this weekend, celebrating my birthday by eating & drinking way too much, and generally forgetting that big decisions are looming on my vocational horizon and, doctorally speaking, my large research questions are as yet undefined. That said, I regret none of it because working and thinking hard must be balanced by times totally off otherwise your creative well runs dry and that’s not good for anyone involved.

So… here I am again, trying to get back into the 500 words and clear my head a bit…Did I mention I had an interview last week? : )

I did in fact mention it to my cohort last week to get their input and wisdom regarding if I should or should not take the job if it was offered. The cohort, as always, dazzled me as they poured out stories from the past and gave me their own bits of wisdom. The offering was a gift and made me realize yet again that community is quite profound…I cannot say enough how glad I am to have them as yet another barometer in my life.

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and now for something completely different…

January 16, 2014

lisa hammershaimb


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