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).