March 15, 2015
I am writing this one day post-Assignment 2 submission thus will freely admit what follows has been born from mostly half-formed ideas created while running, while drinking, and in pre-dawn hours while trying to go back to sleep. Please forgive the ramblings, unformed ideas, etc.
Due to the magic that is the Timehop app, I realized that one year ago this week I was at the AIGA Design Educator Connecting Dots Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Timehop informed me that apparently I was a Tweet-writing machine as I was encountering so many new ideas, meeting so many new people, and in many ways coming out as not only a design educator of the online tribe (which is rare in design education) but the dean of a fully online graphic design program (which in the graphic design education world is pretty much the equivalent of being a unicorn.) As it was only a year ago, re-reading what I’ve tweeted has brought back the memories and the overall context of the experience which has been the catalyst for a good nostalgia session as I compare where I was a year ago with where I am now.
The main theme that seemed to stick out to me last year was the need for designers to be engaged in Research (yep….cap R for “Research” because designers love a good capital whenever possible!) This checks out with my own memory as it seems a lot of the keynotes rotated around the fact that design pedagogy kind of has its own “cold start problem” going on because it wants so desperately to be a legit academic field but because graphic design is ubiquitous, young, and practice/apprentice based and designers are very much an “other”…it’s just an academic hard sell.
In addition, I think what really might contribute to these notions is that designers and even design educators don’t interface with more mainstream academia because they have so effectively established their own communities of practice. Don’t get me wrong, these communities are amazing and I love designers almost as much as I love people from Canada. But…this year has convinced me that designers have done a fabulous job establishing their own niche at the expense of becoming part of the larger education conversation, and especially educational technology/digital literacy conversation that is going on.
This lack of voice is curious to me as graphic design in general and design educators in particular seem to have so much to bring to the table when discussing how to navigate the very murky spaces of technology, learning, and human empathy. Perhaps it is because I’m ignorant to the conversations (as I have legit spent more time lately in the edu sphere as opposed to the design sphere). I hope this is the case as I think this bleed area matters in some pretty profound ways.
For the next couple days I’m going to both get back on the writing wagon and engage a bit more with these ideas. What is design pedagogy? Why are designers not integrating with the larger narratives of digital literacy and network learning that are going on? Or are they and it’s me that’s just missing it because my own vision and network is too narrow?