1 Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Design

Visual communication and design spans throughout every aspect of our complex lives. Design students have a tremendous challenge with so many constantly evolving toolsets available and such a wide span of visual culture/languages to absorb.

Certainly, a portion of my responsibilities as a design educator is to provide technical guidance through the digital platforms and tools that anchor design processes today; however, I ultimately strive to establish and maintain a core culture in the classroom where students are encouraged and pushed to be inquisitive, to think, to research, to make conceptual and formal connections, to collaborate, interact, and critique in order to construct and resolve ideas. I believe this results in a student who is better aligned for long-term success professionally and culturally, and one who is, consequently, able to contribute to the betterment of a community.

The analog process of developing concepts through sketches (the cycle from the mind and eyes to the hand and back again) is a driving force behind perpetuating a strong dynamic of research, developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills to produce clear, informed visual solutions. From the refined concept, the conviction of the idea can then be realized digitally through the utilization of industry-standard software applications, or through any other mode of output (e.g. web or screenprint or letterpress, etc.)

Additionally, incorporating design history within the course curriculum, and within class discussions is of paramount importance. Students and professionals are all susceptible to creating work that suffers from banality. Having a broad knowledge of design history creates many vectors of inspiration through which one can harvest a vocabulary, or visual language for reference when concepting a design (or when verbally articulating a concept to a peer or client).

Teaching Web

Successful design for the web is a balanced combination of efficient, semantically-correct code and a dynamic design aesthetic that prioritizes content (i.e. “content-first” design). Students learning markup languages for web design must be aware of accessibilty issues and standards-compliant coding and design principles. In addition to covering traditional design principles and practices, when teaching web and interactive design processes I strive to accomplish the following objectives:

  • To teach foundational, technical concepts, across various applications and markup languages, that focus upon functional design and development. This is accomplished through in-class demonstrations and working samples presented for analysis, as well as one-on-one guidance and peer collaboration.
  • To teach methods of creating and organizing web concepts through sketches, wireframes and flow chart/site mapping exercises that aid in clarifying development processes.
  • To maintain a learning environment that encourages students to embrace the responsibilities of researching, absorbing, and integrating current and emerging technologies. This is critical because digital applications are constantly changing and expanding.
  • To encourage/reinforce critical thinking and project management through frequent in-class critiques. My overarching goal is to build upon these objectives and methodologies in order to help students maintain a confident, competitive position as graphic designers in professional environments.