Leveraging the Smartphone as a Teaching Tool

Heather Snyder-Quinn
Professional Lecturer
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

Heather Snyder-Quinn 
Professional Lecturer
DePaul University 
College of Computing and Digital Media 
School of Design

Educators are often frustrated with students’ constant attachment to their smartphones. But why do we assume the smartphone isn’t a creative tool akin to a pencil or brush—a simple way of seeing and interpreting the world around us?

As the world of design vacillates forever between the digital and analog, it’s imperative that students (and educators) understand an ever-expanding array of principles. In the words of Seymour Papert: “The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.” And as classroom content grows, the best thing we can teach students is how to be adaptive and curious thinkers.

Students can best embrace uncertainty and find comfort in a process of discovery by exploring and pushing the boundaries of the familiar. This is where the phone excels as a teaching tool. Analogous to the way a drawing teacher encourages mark-making with a branch or one’s foot, we can use a smartphone’s features in unintended ways that harness its power as a creative tool by altering our own expectations.

The smartphone is a device that most students have as an extension of their hand (though we must be vigilant of our own assumptions from privilege). Once students learn to use the smartphone in unintended and perceptively novel ways, they can extend this method to both past technologies and those yet to be imagined. By having students hack, make, and create in this manner, we are teaching them to think beyond the hand and machine, to the tool that has not yet been discovered.

Lastly, by exploring/investigating the capabilities of, and ever-present reliance upon our smartphones, we can raise awareness and open the classroom conversation to discuss ethical implications in design, including privilege, accessibility, inclusion, privacy and addiction.

Geometries of the Sacred and Profane in Lewerentz’s St Peters

Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

As the world of visual communication redefines itself around the design of experiences, and as those experiences are increasingly immaterial and mediated by technology (e.g. AR/VR, social media, etc.), there is much to learn from trans-disciplinary explorations of past interventions into human activity.

The architecture of Sigurd Lewerentz (1885–1975) comprises of relatively few buildings though his career spans several decades. His work, encompassing stylistic maneuvers from the neo-classical to the newly brutal, is lauded for its formal approaches to spatial organization and composition. Widely regarded as a peerless example of poetic materiality, St Peters in Klippan (built 1967) is held by many to be the culmination of this master architect’s lifelong exploration of form—a uniquely *authentic* visual and material expression.

Recent onsite documentation and archival research has further revealed connections across his output suggesting that, rather than making a turn away from classicism in the middle of his career, this thesis–antithesis was always present and ever evolving. This project proposes a new reading of St Peters’ seemingly intentional ‘differences’ or ‘frictions’: rotated plans, imperfect symmetries, ever-changing patterns within brickwork and floor tiles. These anomalies appeared throughout the entire span of the architect’s output, but never so vigorously as in this final church. Posited as visual proxies for authenticity, these frictions provide an antidote to contemporary template-driven culture and provide design strategies for creating visual and material experiences that are at once technological and humane.

Insectile Indices, Los Angeles 2027

Yeawon Kim
Graduate student
Media Design Practices
Art Center College of Design

Yeawon Kim
Graduate student
Media Design Practices
Art Center College of Design

Crime prediction technology – we have all seen it in the movies, but what has in the past been pure fiction is now quickly becoming a reality.  Predpol, HunchLab and ComStat are different types of relatively new crime prediction software, or “predicative policing” software, that demonstrate how algorithms and other technologies can be used within urban infrastructures to predict crime.  However, utilizing these technologies and algorithms to collect data to predict crime, which is invariably subject to and tainted by human perception and use, can lead to a number of adverse ethical consequences – such as the amplification of existing biases against certain types of individuals based on race, gender or otherwise. On the other hand, if data can be gathered by some artificial intelligence (AI) means – thereby removing the human component from such data collection, can doing so result in more efficient and accurate crime prediction?  Furthermore, will we in doing so also reshape the aesthetic of urban landscapes, especially when one takes into account the constant evolution of AI?

Insectile Indices is therefore a speculative design project that considers how electronically augmented insects could be trained to act as sophisticated data sensors, working in groups, as part of a neighborhood crime predicative policing initiative in the city of Los Angeles, 2027.  This project is not only an investigation into the ethics of this controversial idea, but an aesthetic exploration into the deliberate alteration to a natural wildlife ecosystem of insects and the potential reshaping of an urban landscape.

In 2007, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) asked American scientists to submit proposals to develop technology to create insect-cyborgs, the results of which led to a plethora of troubling and worrisome commentary.  Rather than build off of a frightening narrative that discusses the potential sinister militaristic use of such technology, this project does the opposite and imagines instead an aesthetically pleasing utopia where these insect-cyborgs have social utility and work towards the public good of humanity.  Insectile indices also plays with the idea of aesthetics in our future techno-driven world by addressing whether we are more apt to silently “turn the other cheek” to more pervasive surveillance if these insect-cyborgs, or the urban landscapes they have the potential to reshape, become more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

In this session, I plan to share the process of researching and creating the visual representation of this speculative fiction.

Transforming “Graduate Students” Into “Competent Designers”

Benson Cheung
Associate Professor
Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi)
Faculty of Design and Environment

Benson Cheung
Associate Professor
Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi)
Faculty of Design and Environment

Recent reports published in Hong Kong highlight the lack of experienced and competent designers in Hong Kong (Heskett, 2003; The DesignSmart Research Project, 2008; Cheung, 2015). Two possible reasons behind this problem are insufficient training provided to recent university graduates upon their transition into the workplace and the fact that academics and employers may not think they have a role to play in the transition. University-workplace transitions have been studied extensively around the world, with researchers pointing out that there is often a ‘learning gap’ between the two settings (Schein, 1972; Argyris & SchÖn, 1989; Eraut , 1994, 2007; Boshuizen, 2003; Tuomi-Grohn, Engestrom & Young, 2003; Smeby, 2007; Asian Development Bank, 2012). Thus, this paper aims to reveal on the professional training situation and stakeholders’ responsibilities (Academics; Employers; Design Professional Bodies) of Hong Kong communication design graduates for the first three years after graduation.

This study adopted the qualitative interview method. The interviewees consisted of seven academics; seven employers and eight graduate designers of communication design in Hong Kong. The findings confirm that there is a learning gap identified between the academia and professional practice settings. It was found that neither academics nor employers consider themselves as having the primary responsibility for providing training to graduates during the transition. Communication design graduates confirmed additional training at workplace was needed; as the scope of previous academic training was broad whereas workplace requirements were very specific. All stakeholders agreed that Hong Kong lacks competent communication designers and the employers confirmed that as an urgent need. Closer Collaboration between stakeholders (Academics; Employers; Design Professional Bodies) in terms of Hong Kong design policies are needed in training junior designers.

Guided Experiential Learning for Design Innovators

C.J. Yeh
Professor, Assistant Chair
Graphic Design

Fashion Institute of Technology

FIT is one of the pioneers in creative technology and design education. For this presentation, the founder of the Creative Technology program at FIT, C.J. Yeh, will introduce the most innovative design projects from FIT’s creative technology courses.

FIT’s Creative Technology curriculum has strong focuses on augment and virtual reality, user experience design, design thinking, and digital thinking. Digital thinking is probably the primary difference between Creative Technology and the other programs at FIT. For Creative Technology program at FIT, technology is more than just a tool, it is an arena in which the students learn to explore new possibilities in digital media and conceptualize new experiences and digital product innovations that has never been done before.

One of the most unique pedagogy from FIT’s Creative Technology and Design Program is called “Guided Experiential Learning.” It is a unique merger between the traditional studio classes and internship. Through its Guided Experiential Learning initiatives, FIT faculty and students have worked with major brands and international research institutions like the National Football League (NFL), Infor, and Fabrica–a highly regarded research center in Italy. For each Guided Experiential Learning project, FIT’s faculty design customized workshops, lectures, and training to maximize the learning for students, and, at the same time, ensure the collaborating brands/organizations receive the highest quality design products at the end of the process.

This presentation will share case studies, best practices, and insights on how Guided Experiential Learning has been adopted in higher education. Relevant pedagogies and teaching methodologies will be introduced, and a discussion regarding the challenges and opportunities particularly in its application and relevance to college-level design education.

Lessons from Mom & Pop on Resourceful Design

Kelly Porter
Assistant Professor, Graphic Design
Art & Design, College of Arts & Sciences

East Tennessee State University

My first introduction to design was a sign on the outside of my Pop’s shop, which was on the same property as the house I lived in. My Pop was a country mechanic. He hand painted the sign on the masthead of his garage. JOE’S AUTO SERVICE. My dad followed in the same genre of work as my Pop. He was a traveling tire salesperson for more than a decade between the 70’s and 80’s. We would travel across the southeast with tires piled higher than the cab of his 1975 two-toned brown Chevy Bonanza. Most of the clientele were located in rural or isolated towns and non-metropolitan areas. These backroads were peppered with mom and pop businesses like JOE’S AUTO SERVICE, many of whom created their own signs just like my Pop. These signs were made with the “amateur aesthetic,” a term borrowed from Alfred Stieglitz and applied to untrained “designers” who create their own signs. These rural towns were not homogenized “omnitopias”, but rather were, and in some cases still are remote islands of authenticity, resourcefulness and ingenuity when it comes to visual communication.

This paper examines the vernacular of small town amateur aesthetics in design including techniques and materiality as well as mythology and humanity inherent in hand made vernacular and DIY signage. I will also acknowledge and discuss cultural hierarchy and privilege that separate the design world from the untrained naïve design. Can we collapse the distinction between the professional and the amateur? What opportunities present themselves in the divide? What can we learn from these approaches?

Research for Designers

Meredith James
Assistant Professor
Graphic Design

Portland State University

There are a number of textbooks on the market for research strategies used by designers, from A Designer’s Research Manual by O’Grady and O’Grady, to Visual Research by Bestley and Noble, to Design Research by Laurel and Lunenfeld. These texts offer a range of approaches, from marketing strategies used by designers, to more academic case studies. However, what is missing from the marketplace is a simple “how-to” guide that introduces basic primary and secondary research techniques to students.

This presentation will provide a literature review of tactics every designer and educator should know, and then present a practical research guide created for designers that fills the gap in existing literature. This pocket guide is being used in design classes at both foundational and advanced levels. Our students work has advanced to be more culturally and critically aware due to the implementation of these techniques. 

Colloquium 4.2: CAA 2018 Conference Los Angeles

Presentations and discussion in Research and Scholarship in Communication Design at the 106th Annual CAA Conference 2018 in LA.

Hosted by CAA Affiliated Society, Design Incubation

Research in Communication Design. Presentation of unique, groundbreaking, significant creative work, practice of design, case studies, contemporary practice and the academic and scholarly review of creative projects. New approaches to design education and pedagogy will also be discussed.

Design Incubation Colloquium 4.2: CAA 2018 Los Angeles
Saturday, February 24, 2018, 2:00–3:30 PM
LA Convention Center: 402A

Abstract submission  deadline: December 21, 2017
Submit abstracts online at Colloquium Abstract Submissions.

The colloquium session is open to all conference attendees.

Co-Moderators

Aaris Sherin
Professor 
Graphic Design
St John’s University

Bruno Ribeiro
Assistant Professor
Graphic Design
Department of Art and Design
California Polytechnic State University

Presentations

Lessons From Mom & Pop on Resourceful Design
Kelly Porter
Assistant Professor
East Tennessee State University

Insectile Indices, Los Angeles 2027
Yeawon Kim
Graduate student
Media Design Practices
Art Center College of Design

Research for Designers
Meredith James
Assistant Professor
Portland State University

Geometries of the Sacred and Profane in Lewerentz’s St Peters
Nathan Matteson
Assistant Professor
DePaul University
College of Computing and Digital Media
School of Design

Guided Experiential Learning for Design Innovators
C.J. Yeh
Professor
Fashion Institute of Technology

Transforming ‘Graduate Students’ Into ‘Competent Designers’
Benson Cheung
Associate Professor
Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong (THEi)
Faculty of Design and Environment

Leveraging the Smartphone as a Teaching Tool
Heather Snyder-Quinn
Professional Lecturer
DePaul University 
College of Computing and Digital Media 
School of Design

During the conference we will also be holding an Affiliated Society Meeting: Design Incubation Special Program on Typography. The meeting agenda for the meeting will be posted in an upcoming announcement. The meeting is open and free to the public.