If This is Theory, Why Isn’t It Boring? Connecting traditional text[book]s to real-life contexts with Augmented Reality

Teaching Award Winner

Although it pains me to say so, I find that many undergraduate students think “theory” is a difficult, if not an irrelevant, even “boring” subject. In the case of my sophomore-level online course, “GD303 Graphic Design Theory + Practice,” students access course content asynchronously, oftentimes when they are alone, perhaps in the privacy of their own homes. In other words, their learning does not take place in a space where “real” people sit together as a “real” instructor moves around the lecture hall (who, incidentally, is able to observe facial expressions of confused or enlightened students). GD303 satisfies university “General Education” course requirements — consequently, at least half the students enrolled each semester are not Graphic Design majors.

The project I am pleased to submit to the 2020 Design Incubation Award is an Augmented Reality (AR) application, designed for my GD303 course and supported through a NCSU Course Innovation Grant from DELTA that I received in 2018. AR learning experiences, in the form of digital overlays that appear in the physical world, render abstract theoretical topics more concrete, no matter the student’s major, and in ways that motivate them to study and engage with course content (especially the textbook). Target images printed in the textbook trigger twelve different AR multimedia learning experiences that designed to “make visible” key theoretical concepts by animating them in a way that demonstrates and illustrates these concepts. The app is available to anyone, whether they own the textbook or not, and they do not need to be enrolled in the course. It is downloadable for free on Apple Store or Google Play (tablet or smart phone). The design of the app also meets usability and accessibility criteria for learners with vision disabilities.

While the physical world where we live and learn is a 3-dimensional spatial world, it is paradoxical that the materials for delivering online curricula are mostly 2-dimensional, flat media. The choice of AR is about exploring innovative solutions to the design of course content beyond typical textbooks, study guides, and Powerpoint lectures. The AR-enhanced reading experiences are designed to be immersive, colorful, surprising, interactive, and energetic to get students to delve deeper into and reflect upon the theoretical topics we cover. AR technology brings a “boring” textbook to life by connecting reading assignments (accessed as static pages) to real-world digital examples from different perspectives — examples that students prefer, i.e., dynamic media. It functions like an interactive “pocket study guide” that students can use while they read their assignments. It is designed to “perform” like a teacher in a live class by pointing out main concepts — and their locations — in the textually dense readings. As a “virtual instructor,” the application poses “pop-up pop-questions” to help students prepare for exams — a feature that helps students grasp one of Graphic Design’s main visual theories, “Gestalt”. The AR tools are designed to help students visualize other difficult-to-understand concepts, such as “objective reality,” “three-point perspective,” and “vectors,” as well as “see” how a designer uses a grid to layout a design. Furthermore, the AR experiences provide multiple means of representation (two dimensional, three-dimensional, audio, video, animated media) so that students can approach information in more than one way. Examples include: digital storytelling by a virtual agent who explains theories used in a seminal Postmodern design poster; the ability to see how form communicates meaning in the design of an architectural feature; or a virtual magnifying glass that lets users zoom into an image to read small type that otherwise could not be read in a print reproduction.

The move from an inert medium, such as a static drawing or photograph printed in a book, to dynamic interactive representations that visually demonstrate conceptual frameworks is positively changing how students think about theory in this course (see “Evidence of Outcome”). I considered how images already published in the textbook could incorporate new visual representations in the form of three-dimensional models and time-based animations— e.g., how static printed images become dynamic media that delves further into topics for those students who may want or need more in-depth explanations.

Early evaluations of the tool found that students (even non-majors) were not only enthusiastic about learning complex subjects, but they had made significant conceptual developments and improved exam scores (see “Evidence of Outcome”). Furthermore, the menu-driven, collapsible interface is designed for easy expansion — more experiences are planned in the future.

Each type of media I have incorporated in my GD303 course (the textbook, the lecture slides, the online Moodle platform, and now, the augmented reality application) are designed with a consistent “look and feel” across the different media. Graphic Design majors, especially, want to see the learning materials they engage with in their design courses as being informed by the design principles of good form, design consistency, and engaging visual vocabularies that they are learning about in their educations — it is my way of putting theory into practice.

All contributors affiliation is:
North Carolina State University
Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA)

Rich Gurnsey, Lead Multimedia Designer
Laurie Gyalog, Lead Project Manager
Stephen Waddell, Immersive Media Developer
Matthew Casto, 2D/3D Artist

Deborah Littlejohn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Graphic Design & Industrial Design and affiliated faculty with the College of Design’s PhD in Design program. She teaches masters and undergraduate courses in the areas of history, theory, and research methods, as well as studios that focus on the cognitive-cultural aspects of design. Her research is guided by questions that address relationships between new information environments, technology, and people’s ability to learn, adapt, and change through the mediating influence of design. Projects focus on understanding the perceptions of professional, technological, and socio-cultural impacts on design’s professional and academic development. In the community engagement space, she works on visualization tools and interactive asset mapping applications to support stakeholders in communicating their community’s future development and potential.

Rich Gurnsey is a lead multimedia designer at DELTA (Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications) at North Carolina State University. In this role, Rich collaborates with instructors, subject matter experts, instructional designers, and other teammates to develop or improve upon courses and instructional materials via visual media including animation, video, AR, VR, motion graphics, illustration, and graphic design.

Rich’s recent projects include leading a team in the creation of an augmented reality app that transforms a graphic design theory textbook into an engaging multimedia experience, and helping to create a virtual organic chemistry lab — complete with 360 video and animation, which enables users to carry out five experiments in a VR environment. Additionally, Rich’s freelance animation work has been featured in film festivals in the U.S. and abroad, as well as in galleries, online, and on TV. He is a graduate of the College of Design at NC State.

Laurie Gyalog, a Lead Project Manager, with NC State University, works on a variety of projects ranging from course grants and learning analytics to workflow management of marketing and communications. Laurie works to enhance efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, collaboration and communication across all projects and areas of the organization. She is the founder of the NC State University Project Management and Agile Community (PMAC), a Certified Scrum Product Owner® (CSPO®), Certified SAFe® 5 Program Consultant (SPC), Certified SAFe® 5 Lean Portfolio Manager (LPM), Certified SAFe® 5 Product Owner/ Product Manager (POPM), Certified SAFe® 5 Practitioner (SP), Certified SAFe® 4 Agilist (SA), and ICAgile Certified Professional – Agile Coach (ICP-ACC).

Stephen Waddell works with NC State’s Distance Education (DELTA) department as an Immersive Media Developer. Generally this involves working with cutting edge XR technology to enhance course design, and exploring new software and hardware to further the media possibilities in and outside of the traditional classroom setting. With a background in both design and computer science his role blends both the design and realization of immersive media projects.

Matthew Castro is a 2D/3D Artists with over 5 years’ experience, who strives to make the work stand out from the rest. He enjoys working with others and troubleshooting any task that presents itself. Matthew collaborates with numerous DELTA staff as a team member on a variety of distance education projects, doing what he can to ensure the projects are memorable, usable, educational, and delightful.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

AIGA Design Educators Community SHIFT 2020 Virtual Summit

Service Award Runner-Up

In the summer of 2020, design educators were exhausted. They had just finished a spring semester unlike any other, in which halfway through they were required to quickly transition their classes to a remote format due to a global pandemic. Many had lost access to childcare; many were home schooling their young children. As they looked ahead to the fall—another uncertain and tenuous semester as a global health crisis continued to unfold—the anxiety and lack of support they felt was palpable.

The AIGA Design Educators Community Steering Committee felt this firsthand. We knew something had to be done to support educators during such a challenging and uncertain time. Most design conferences had been cancelled or postponed, including the AIGA national conference. We decided to convene our first virtual conference to directly address the issues weighing heavily on educators. We called it the SHIFT 2020 Virtual Summit.

About the event

The events of 2020 required design educators to shift many things: priorities, expectations, formats, locations, modalities, and perspectives. The suddenness of these shifts also revealed many previously unseen or overlooked aspects of design education: weaknesses, biases, inequities, issues of accessibility—as well as opportunities for innovation and evolution. Questions lingered about what it means to be a design educator and what our role might look like in the future. The SHIFT Virtual Summit, Aug. 3-7, was a week-long online event that gathered the design education community to take stock of where we were, what we had learned, and what we wanted to do next. The summit focused on themes of Teaching, Research, and Community, with one day of the summit devoted to each theme. We wanted to create a space that allowed participants to pause, listen, reflect, and learn from each other. Through dialogue and discourse, we aimed to explore pluralistic answers to the following questions:

  • How must our teaching shift?
  • How must our research shift?
  • How must our community shift?
The content

The primary goal of the summit was to bring together as many different voices and perspectives as possible, especially those that have been historically underrepresented in conversations around design education. As such, we decided to forego the traditional call for proposals and peer review process, and instead opted for an intentional arrangement of curated content. We identified key issues and topics that were of interest to educators in the current moment, and hand-selected speakers and panelists who would provide diverse perspectives and expertise. Some of the topics addressed: inclusion in the classroom, virtual critiques, decolonial design, global community, design in k-12 education, design educators and mental health, inclusive graphic design history, tenure and promotion, sponsored research and studios, and more. View the full list of events on the DEC website: https://educators.aiga.org/shift-2020/

It was important to us that the participant experience was manageable and accessible for all, so we planned both synchronous and asynchronous content, and a schedule that accommodated multiple time zones. The events of the summit took many formats: pre-recorded panels, user-submitted videos, live panels, live virtual roundtables, and live virtual mixer sessions. All pre-recorded videos included closed captioning, and many live events included ASL interpreters. All sessions were recorded and can be viewed on the AIGA DEC Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQo7UMhLPFcb_Mbw4zCXks_BQcg337cZ7

Another fundamental aspect of the conference was to provide opportunities for connection amongst participants. Many virtual meetings and webinars tend to isolate participants and create disjointed experiences. We wanted to bring people together. Our main hub for the week was Slack. Channels were created for each of the three themes, teaching, research, community, as well as for introductions, social chatter and general announcements. Conversations about the panels and video content were carried out in Slack each day. Throughout the week, volunteers helped to moderate the conversations.

The organizers

The summit was a 100% volunteer-run event, and free and open to all design educators. AIGA DEC Steering Committee members Alberto Rigau, Liese Zahabi and Ali Place co-chaired the event. It was developed in partnership with the AIGA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Task Force. The summit would not have been possible without the DEC Steering Committee members, DEI Task Force members and numerous other educators who generously volunteered their time and effort to make the event a resounding success. We cannot thank them enough for their contributions.

To keep the summit free and open to all, we capitalized on the affordances of free digital tools and platforms, such as Slack and YouTube. The DEC received funding from AIGA National to upgrade the DEC Zoom account and to provide ASL interpretation at live sessions. 

The outcome

The SHIFT Virtual Summit was an incredible success that surpassed all our expectations. At the end of the week, 1,200 participants had registered and joined our Slack community (more than four times number of participants at the largest DEC conference to date). What surprised us even more was the global reach of the event—more than 25 countries were represented. Pre-recorded videos garnered hundreds of views. The live roundtable discussions were full of insightful and forward-thinking ideas. The Slack channels were buzzing with boisterous conversations that were thoughtful and caring. Threads popped up about crucial topics like supporting students who can’t afford laptop computers, how to teach community-oriented service learning courses remotely, and what it’s like to be a mother on the tenure track. Participants had a chance to share stories, seek advice and offer words of encouragement. It was a beautiful display of connection and community.

The outcomes of the SHIFT Virtual Summit will take the form of a Living Archive. Rather than a static collection of papers written by a handful of people, we wanted to capture ideas shared and discussed during the summit and make it accessible and editable by our attendees. The Living Archive includes resources shared, tips and tricks, ideas, links, quotes, discussions and debates, and more, culled from the Slack channels as well as the chat transcripts from live sessions. In addition, we announced a call for submissions for materials from and about the summit. We are seeking various types of submissions, including research-based papers, visual expressions, practical and hands-on submissions, and other kinds of writing which will be peer-reviewed and edited together in a publication that will also be part of the SHIFT Living Archive.

Alison Place is a design educator, researcher and practitioner. Her research examines the intersection of feminism and design as a space for radical speculation and critical making. She is currently writing a book that aims to define feminist design through key principles, methods, interviews and case studies. She is an assistant professor of graphic design at the University of Arkansas School of Art, and is currently serving as interim director of the graphic design program. She is also a member of the AIGA Design Educators Community National Steering Committee. Previously, she worked for more than ten years as a creative director and designer for higher education and nonprofit institutions. She earned an M.F.A. in experience design from Miami University of Ohio, and a B.S. in graphic design and journalism from the University of Cincinnati College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

Liese Zahabi is a graphic/interaction designer and Assistant Professor of Design at the University of New Hampshire. She received her Master of Graphic Design from North Carolina State University, and her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Eastern Michigan University. She has been working as a designer for twenty years, and teaches courses in graphic design, interaction design, motion design and animation, typography, game design, user experience and design research. Liese’s academic research focuses on search as a cognitive and cultural process, and how the design of metaphoric interfaces can change the experience of digital search tasks. Her creative design work is also metaphorical and explores how the nature of search manifests itself in visual patterns and sense-making, how the digital record influences memory and our understanding of history, and how language and image intersect within the context of the Internet.

Alberto Rigau is a graduate of the Masters in Graphic Design program at NC State University’s College of Design and a Poynter Institute Visual Journalism Fellow. He pursued undergraduate studies in cultural anthropology, graphic design and photography at Syracuse University. He runs Estudio Interlínea, a design studio that engages design and anthropology through the crafting and conceptualization of brands, exhibits, way-finding systems, publications, books, architectural collaborations of an interpretative nature. Alberto’s work has been recognized here and abroad. He currently lectures on design thinking methodologies and creativity as a tool to ignite meaningful cultural experiences.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

Diseño y Diáspora Podcast

Service Award Winner
Jury Commendation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Service: Expanding the Canon

This is a podcast on social design for the Spanish and Portuguese speaking community. We publish 2 episodes per week. We have 10000 listeners per month which is currently the most popular design podcast in Spanish.

We have published 180 interviews with selected professionals working in the field of design, mostly in the area of social innovation. The topics on which we focus covers the contribution of design to education, development, health, sustainability, security and public administration. In addition, we have numerous episodes dedicated to communities of designers supporting informal education and designers doing a collaboration with indigenous communities.

The aims of this podcast are to connect researchers and designers in the Spanish and Portuguese diaspora with those communities living in their home countries and to bring together a variety of design researchers and practitioners. We connect designers interested in social change, while speaking and understanding the same languages, yet living in different parts of the world.

We gather and spread social design materials through our Instagram account and our website, disenoydiaspora.org. For example, there are many listeners to our podcasts that regularly make requests for academic papers and publications that we share on our Instagram page. We have many thematic lists that can be accessed via Spotify and our website.

We also collaborate intensively with professors in universities that have used the podcast in their classes. On our blog, we have written four articles documenting this collaboration and the possible uses of the podcast in design education. At the moment we are exploring the possibility to do a series of books based on compilations of interviews done for the podcast. We are collaborating on this endeavor with researchers in the fields of health and public administration as the first two books that we will publish are on design and health and the contribution of design to government. Under Mariana’s initiative, we have gathered a group of designers doing podcasts in Spanish. Now we are 25 in this group and we are developing as a collective and considering our direction of growth. Mariana collaborated with another podcaster from this group to write an article about the state of the art of the podcast on design in Spanish.

This podcast is a team effort. Andrés Fechtenholz, Julian Pereyra, Antonio Zimmermann and Mercedes Salgado are key members. Andrés and Julian are sound designers and co-producers, Antonio does the original music and Mercedes is the community manager of Instagram.

Mariana Salgado is a senior designer and a researcher working in service and interaction design.

Currently, she works in Inland design, an innovation and design lab at the MInistry of the Interior: Inland design.  This lab used to be part of the Finnish Immigration Service where she worked for two and a half years, leading it. In addition, she currently produces and hosts Diseño y diáspora, a podcast on design for social change (in Spanish and Portuguese).

Previously, she has worked in cultural heritage and global health projects always under a participatory framework. Her partners varied from project to project but the setting is always transcultural and transdisciplinary. She has worked in collaboration with different communities such as vulnerable groups of immigrants, professionals in memory organizations, global health experts, and rural citizens in developing countries.

She has a doctorate degree from the Media department (2009) and master degree from the Design Department at the University of Art and Design Helsinki (2002). Her bachelor degree is in Industrial Design from the University of Buenos Aires (1998).

Andrés Fechtenholz is a film director, storyteller, and podcast producer. After 15 years as a cameraman and editor, he gained experience and knowledge in new media exploring new ways of telling stories. He developed his career at the rhythm of the digitization of media’s tools and content. He works with new technologies, hybrid formats, in convergent companies. The starting point was a degree as a podcast specialist in cultural industries in the digital convergence era at the UNTREF (University of Tres de Febrero). He is a co-producer and sound designer in Diseño y diáspora.

Julián Pereyra studies music and sound production at the ORT Institute. He works as a functional analyst in the Secretary of Public Innovation. He is a sound designer in Diseño y diáspora podcast.

Antonio Zimmerman is a composer, teacher, and entrepreneur. He is currently working as a Professor at UNTREF (University of Tres de Febrero). As a composer and sound designer, he makes music and sounds for video games and media. He created the music for Diseño y Diáspora. Also, he developed Oir, an award-winning music game for iOS.

Mercedes Salgado Moralejo is a feminist anthropologist. She is the community manager for Diseño y diáspora. In her free time, she enjoys playing football or learning a new language.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

afFEMation.com

Scholarship: Creative Works Award Runner Up
Jury Commendation for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Scholarship: Creative Works: Expanding the Canon

The afFEMation.com online, interactive, archive addresses the previous invisibility of women in the history of women in Australian graphic design.1 This problem was demonstrated in the low representation of women in the Australian Graphic Design Associations (AGDA) Hall of Fame which had only one-woman inductee prior to the site’s launch. However, since the launch three more women’s biographies have been added, one which cites afFEMation.com.2 The data set demonstrating this was published in the appendix of The View from Here.3

CONTRIBUTION

#afFEMation – demonstrating a framework for gender-equitable histories, is an article outlining a methodological innovation that emerged from an analysis of the site’s build.4 This framework consists of five steps designed to assist researchers, historians and archivists consider gender-equitable histories. The steps include systemized privilege checking and the prioritizing of recent histories.

AIM

Filling the gendered gaps in Australia’s graphic design history and increasing the visibility of women was the aim of afFEMation.com. Right through the UK, US and Australia women are graduating from graphic design qualifications in a high majority.[5] afFEMation.com was designed to make this new knowledge available as accessible and sharable portraits, biographies, galleries of work, videoed interviews and visualised networks.

SIGNIFICANCE

The significant and interactive design of afFEMation.com was reviewed by HOW Magazine as one of the ‘10 Best Design Websites’.6 The site was also launched at the Women in Design symposium and reviewed on-line as “thought-provoking”.7 Design industry blogs also published articles demonstrating the interest in equitable design histories, citing afFEMation.com.8

References
  1. afFEMation.com was a collaborative project which profiled Michaela Webb, Annette Harcus, Lynda Warner, Rita Siow, Lisa Grocott, Abra Remphrey, Dianna Wells, Sandy Cull, Sue Allnutt, Fiona Sweet, Gemma O’Brien, Jenny Grigg, Jessie Stanley, Kat Macleod, Simone Elder, Chloe Quigley, Kate Owen, Laura Cornhill, Rosanna Di Risio, Suzy Tuxen, Zoe Pollitt, Natasha Hasemer, Fiona Leeming and Maree Coote. Research, writing, art direction, and design was by Jane Connory, photography, sound, and image recording by Deborah Jane Carruthers and Carmen Holder, assistance from William Aung, and website development by Danni Liu. Jane Connory (2017) “#afFEMation. Making heroes of women in Australian graphic design”, http://affemation.com (website accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figures 1-12 in Documentation of the work itself. For evidence of the public launch at the Women in Design conference in Design Tasmania, 2017, see Document1_WomenInDesign.pdf in Other Uploaded Documents.
  2. The AGDA Hall of Fame began in 1992 and was published in the AGDA award compendiums before being compiled on their current website. afFEMation.com is cited in Graham Rendoth (2018) “Annette Harcus”, https://www.agda.com.au/hall-of-fame/annette-harcus (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 13 in Evidence of Publication and Significance.
  3. Jane Connory (2019) The view from here: Exploring the causes of invisibility for women in Australian graphic design and advocating for their equity and autonomy, Thesis, Monash University, pp. 176. https://trove.nla.gov.au/work/237518812?q=Jane+Connory+the+view+from+here&c=book&versionId=265087902 (accessed April 9, 2020).
  4. Jane Connory (2017) “#afFEMation – demonstrating a framework for gender-equitable histories.” Community Informatics Research Network (CIRN), Conference, Prato, Italy, October, pp 41-47. https://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1397018/prato_proceedings_2017_final_edited1July2018.pdf (accessed April 9, 2020). Also see Document2_CIRNConference.pdf in Other Uploaded Documents.
  5. Jane Connory (2017) “Plotting a Historical Pipeline of Women and Design Education.” Design History Australian Research Network (DHARN) http://dharn.org.au/plotting-the-historical-pipeline-of-women-in-graphic-design/ (accessed April 9, 2020). Also see Document3_PlottingThePipeline.pdf in Other Uploaded Documents.
  6. https://www.howdesign.com/web-design-resources-technology/website-and-responsive-design/top-10-sites-for-designers-october-2017-edition/ (attempted accessed April 9, 2020). Unfortunately, this online magazine has since gone into receivership and this link is no longer live.
  7. Penny Craswell (2017) Women in Design at Design Tasmania, The Design Writer, July 3. https://thedesignwriter.com.au/women-design-design-tasmania/ (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 14.; Anita Pava (2017) Colloquium includes Graphic Design, Stream, July 31. https://www.streamdesign.com.au/graphic-design-tasmania-colloquium-includes-graphic-designer-speaker/ (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 15.
  8. Mirella Marie (2018) afFEMation.com, Women of Graphic Design https://womenofgraphicdesign.org/post/165087420998/jane-connory-melbourne-australia (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 16.; Jane Connory (2018) Invisible women in Australian graphic design, Eye Magazine, July 4,

http://www.eyemagazine.com/blog/post/invisible-women-in-australian-graphic-design (accessed April 9, 2020), (Figure 17); Jane Connory (2019) The Invisible Women of Australian Graphic Design, Parlour, October 17, https://archiparlour.org/the-invisible-women-of-australian-graphic-design/ (accessed April 9, 2020) See more in Figure 18.; Jane Connory (2020) Change, Word—Form, https://word-form.com/words/index/view/category/change/article/dr-jane-connory (accessed April 9, 2020). See more in Figure 19.

Dr Jane Connory has a PhD from Monash University, Art, Design, and Architecture, which worked towards a gender-inclusive history of Australian graphic design. She was awarded a Master of Communication Design (Design Management) with Distinction from RMIT and has been a practising designer in the advertising, branding, and publishing sectors, in both London and Melbourne, since 1997. She has also lectured in and convened communication design programs in both the VET and Higher Education sectors since 2005. Alongside her research exploring the visibility of women in design, she is currently a lecturer in Design Futures and Design Strategy at Swinburne University of Technology.

Thank you to all the women profiled on the website including: Michaela Webb, Annette Harcus, Lynda Warner, Rita Siow, Lisa Grocott, Abra Remphrey, Dianna Wells, Sandy Cull, Sue Allnutt, Fiona Sweet, Gemma O’Brien, Jenny Grigg, Jessie Stanley, Kat Macleod, Simone Elder, Chloe Quigley, Kate Owen, Laura Cornhill, Rosanna Di Risio, Suzy Tuxen, Zoe Pollitt, Natasha Hasemer, Fiona Leeming and Maree Coote.

Photography, sound & image recording: Deborah Jane Carruthers & Carmen Holder, assistance from William Aung.

Website development: Danni Liu & ClickTap Digital Media.

Research supervision: Pamela Salen & Gene Bawden.

Research assistants: Rachael Vaughan, Luke Robinson, Kristy Gay & Nick Fox.

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

Cradlr: A Design Project for Refugee Children

Scholarship: Creative Works Award Winner

The growing global refugee crisis in the recent decade has reached a staggering height—in nearly 80 million displaced people, 26 million are registered refugees—and over half of the refugees are under the age of 18. The phenomenon of displaced people has existed since the dawn of human civilizations caused by wars, famines, mass migrations, pandemics, climate change, political persecutions, natural disasters, and more. In these calamities, children have been the first victims of conflict and displacement experiences. As of today, no digital platforms have been built for displaced children—the most vulnerable group who doesn’t have cell phones.

The Cradlr project was created in the hope of developing not only a digital tool but a vision for a global network that might help displaced children to overcome many adversities in life and receive more love and brighter futures. After examining historical evidence and current situations, this project goes beyond the realm of digital product design in an attempt to find a humanitarian solution for a complex social challenge. The final product embraces the connection and communication among the displaced children, their families and temporary guardians, education affiliations, international and regional organizations, as well as volunteers and donors. The stories and personal data of displaced children accumulated by adults are stored and protected by the Cradlr Network Database, which becomes a collective digital memory. Cradlr offers a blueprint whose purpose is to serve as a possible testing ground envisioning a digital network system that transcends political boundaries so that various parties can connect to rescue and nurture young lives collectively on a global scale.

* Cradlr is a United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) project at Monmouth University.

Rationale

The seed of this project was sown two years ago when the designer started the Jiang Jian project [www.jiangjianz.com/eng]—a research and design project that sheds light upon the forgotten stories of Jiang Jian and the Mothers’ Movement in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945)—a major achievement of the Chinese Women’s Movement in the first half of the 20th century. Supported mainly by donations, the Mothers’ Movement rescued and educated 30,000 displaced children during the war. Based on this research, the designer learned many aspects of wartime refugees—forcibly displaced people—in China and complex stories behind the scenes. She soon started to question how other countries protected and rescued children at that time and acquired historical evidence in European countries during WWII. Through her study, some social patterns gradually unveiled, from which the inception of this project began to sprout.

Furthermore, the growing global refugee crisis has reached a staggering height in the recent decade. Lining up incidences from different regions and eras, the designer recognized ineffable human suffering repeated continuously in devastating and grotesque ways, such as mass killing, abduction, raping, child trafficking, the fact that refugee parents murdered or abandoned their children due to untamable obstacles, and so on.

Although incapable of stopping wars and adversities, the designer hopes to learn from facts and history to help displaced children today. In this digital age, many refugees have access to cell phones, so creating mobile apps to assist humanitarian work is not a novel idea. However, the project presented here goes beyond the realm of digital product design in an attempt to find a humanitarian solution for a complex social challenge by connecting various parties to rescue and nurture refugee children worldwide.

Jing Zhou is an interdisciplinary artist, designer, researcher, and Associate Professor at Monmouth University in New Jersey. She works at the intersection of visual and interaction design, interactive media, animation/video, and fine arts. Her work has been shown and collected internationally including: Triennale Design Museum, Milan; British Computer Society, London; Asian Cultural Center, Manhattan; SIGGRAPH Art Gallery; ISEA; IEEE; CAA; Les Abattoirs Museum, France; Royal Institution of Australia; Danish Poster Museum; Athens Digital Art Festival, Greece; Taksim Republic Art Gallery, Istanbul; FILE, Sao Paulo; Korea Visual Information Design Assn.; Stanford University; Yale University; public collection of the WRO Media Art Center, Poland; Waikato Museum, New Zealand; Moravian Gallery in Brno, Czech Republic; and Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco. Ms. Zhou has received many awards in the U.S. and Europe.

https://www.monmouth.edu/directory/profiles/jing-zhou

Design Incubation Communication Design Awards 2020 recipient

Why Design Educators Should Embrace Collaborative (Group) Work in the Design Classroom 

Students apply for a specific role that was provided with a list of job responsibilities

Abby Guido
Assistant Professor
Tyler School of Art and Architecture

While the design industry has shifted from the individual designer creating work in a silo to a more collaborative approach, relying on both diversity of thought and expertise, design education is falling behind, where the focus is often on the individual and the iterative process of incorporating feedback, design students are missing a key component to becoming a successful designer today: learning how to be strong team members, how to generate diverse ideas, how to be thoughtful leaders, among other soft skills. As the design industry continues to embrace collaboration, design educators should explore how to better expose students to group design work in their curriculum. 

In the past, I have assigned group projects that allowed the students to select their roles and responsibilities with their teammates. While this has sometimes worked, more often it did not and I found myself spending most of my time helping the team push through personal issues, rather than focusing on the work itself. In response, I changed my approach in a course during the spring of 2020 called, “Event Design.” I had my students apply for a specific role that was provided with a list of job responsibilities, on a specific project team for a given event we would be designing for. This approach was much more successful, the students embraced their roles, created beautiful work, and were able to seamlessly pivot when our project and course had to majorly adjust due to the coronavirus and the cancelation of the in-person events we were designing for. 

The students in this course shared that their experience collaborating allowed them to learn new skills they had not considered needing to know. I witnessed a huge change in all of the students, and an opportunity to help better prepare our students for their careers. 

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

The Children of Loki: Pairing Norse Mythology With Contemporary Visuals to Create a Provocative Narrative

A body of design work, large scale prints, and hand constructed plaster objects

Jimmy Henderson
Graphic Designer
Jimmy Henderson | Design & Illustration

The past century, particularly the past 20 years, have seen unprecedented growth, change and development in our society, which has led to polarization, division and uncertainty. Communication designers have sought to make sense of the world and clarify this uncertainty—particularly through the use of a variety of narrative methods to illuminate issues, encourage dialogue and inspire change.

One of these projects—The Children of Loki—is a body of design work, presented as large scale prints and hand constructed plaster beer cans that act as modern-day runestones—that uses the framework of historical Norse mythology, paired with digital collage rooted in street art, vintage illustration and vibrant color themes—to create a provocative visual tale that presents information on current political and societal events and bridges the gap between disparate audiences through statistical facts and rich observational storytelling.

During the author’s extensive research of the Prose Edda—a 13th century written record of Norse mythology written by Icelandic scholar and lawmaker Snorri Sturluson—as well as modern rewritten accounts, they noticed a correlation between the myths and the social structure of the United States post World War 2 to the present. These myths serve as familiar metaphors that illuminate a range of events—from the economic boom of 1950’s America, to the rising cost of education, the growth of wealth disparity, the threat of climate change, and the conflict between multiple generations.

While mythology and other literary references have been used across design for years, notably in brands like Nike, Maserati and Versace, The Children of Loki expands further upon the use of mythology in design by pushing a contemporary narrative—the omniscient myth serves as an oracle of what’s to come and is made more real with relatable visuals and tangible objects from everyday life. This creates a rich provocation for dialogue by which to discuss and shine a new light on contemporary events and increases the audience’s ability to understand complex information by blending vibrant visuals and immersive storytelling.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

Graphic Design Principles: A History- And Context-Based First-Year Design Textbook

Insight into the process of design innovation, influence, and interpretation

Anita Giraldo
Associate Professor
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

Patricia Childers
Adjunct Professor
New York City College of Technology, CUNY

In teaching first-year students, we find that most have definite “style” preferences. However, many have little idea about the nuances that resonate with them. While still in its development phase, research has begun into a design textbook to teach various design principles by scaffolding skills and design history to complete a series of one-semester projects. This book aims to bridge the gap between creation and context so that students can make informed design decisions.

Integral to this project is the awareness of the often-overlooked influences and lack of diversity in the cannon of graphic design. Students’ research interests will not be limited. Instead, students are encouraged to contribute to design history by introducing objects or designers that are not part of the cannon. The range of student contributions will create an overview of a specific time and place.

The projects include the development of a graphic image, a hand-drawn typographic project, and a three-dimensional or time-based media project. It culminates in the design of a tribute poster to a significant graphic or industrial designer.

The book covers many aspects and principles of graphic design. However, this is a book for a freshmen design course. The outcome is to open the door to how visual elements influence the viewer and solve problems and laying the foundation for true design thinking. With insight into the process of design innovation, influence, and interpretation, student will be better prepared to advance their design study with a better understanding of the layered process of design.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

Core Values Matter: The Role of the People in Shaping Corporate Responsibility

Case studies examining the role that people have in influencing brands.

Lilian Crum
Assistant Professor
Lawrence Technological University

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and fervent momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, brands have been pressured to address the dramatic social, economic, and behavioral shifts that have been transforming our world. While some brands took action to support the social movement and some brands repositioned their messaging to encourage safe behavior during the pandemic, others communicated seemingly empty messages of solidarity and were criticized for their lack of authenticity. Outward-facing brand messaging has been scrutinized by the public, particularly when there has been discord with the actual internal policies and practices of the respective company. This has resulted in the public boycotting brands, as well companies taking genuine action to drive positive change.

A significant portion of consumers believe that companies hold just as much responsibility as governments do when influencing social change. Furthermore, with social media helping to facilitate public scrutiny of brand policies, practices, and organizational structures, bottom-up forces that put pressure on corporate responsibility have been stronger than ever before. People have the power to drive change through their expectations of company values and practices now more than ever.

Rooted in transition design framework, social innovation design, and marketing, this research uses case studies to examine the role that people have in influencing brands’ moves towards social equity and innovation. It considers the relationship between brand messaging with the company’s core values, the direct action that brands may take in social progress, as well as the ways in which people drive change through external pressure on a company.

Considering that Meredith Davis has dedicated a section of AIGA’s Design Futures to related issues (“Trend 4: Core Values Matters”), this topic is particularly significant to examine as it influences both teaching and practice in the future of the discipline.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.

Sustainable Design Thinking: Changing the Design Process

How sustainable thinking can become the foundation for framing and solving a design problem

Maria Smith Bohannon
Assistant Professor
Oakland University, MI

Today our world faces complex problems, just a few of which include climate change, overpopulation, deforestation, pollution, poverty, water quality, and issues of inequality and food scarcity. The data and the facts are irrefutable and cannot be ignored, but how can designers become the architects of change?

Graphic design education needs to include sustainable design thinking at the forefront of the process, enabling graphic designers to think about and solve for greater impact within their communities.

This presentation focuses on how sustainable thinking can become the foundation for framing and solving a design problem by going beyond development of a logo and identity system to thinking more broadly at the start. Sustainable thinking will be implemented at the beginning of the design process with a goal that it can become routine and foundational for all design process.

Developing a creative brief that includes factoring the impact on people, planet, prosperity and culture will yield a more sustainable design solution—one that clarifies the project goal and fosters creative solutions with a plan for execution. This process will provide steps for identifying, researching and understanding complex problems within local communities, and framing solutions that are more sustainable from research, to the designs of visuals and artifacts.

This research was presented at the Design Incubation Colloquium 7.1: Oakland University, MI on October 17, 2020.