CPD MO3

In the period since the start of the module I have attended the following CPD events (please click the highlighted sections for supporting evidence of attendance and scroll down for reflection on my learning). The selection below covers sessions that have facilitated both pedagogical and graphic-design specific learning:

15Dec—DMLL DOOO Forum
29 Nov—James Webb: Artist Talk
22 Nov—Shared Practice Forum—Learning from my peer’s research outputs.
7 Nov—Art and Technology
6 Nov—Type Talk in collaboration with Birmingham Design Festival
1 Nov—PREVENT Workshop
20 Sept—Mental Health and Disability Workshop
22-24 Jun—Staff Conference on  Achievement, Equality and Diversity
21 June—Inaugural Faculty Research conference

22-24 Jun—Staff Conference on  Achievement, Equality and Diversity

I had the pleasure of attending three key sessions part of the Staff Conference in June.

1: Josette Bushell-Mingo’s performance has had a lasting impact on me. This was a session laden with deep thoughts and musing on the diversity and equality. A passionate and emotive portrayal of the world we live in (where inequality and race crimes are still happening) depicted through parallels with Nina Simone’s life. This performance—lecture allowed me to peer into the complexities of equality, perhaps a topic I never fully understood due to my privileged position. In terms of professional development, this performance has perhaps taught me more than I can articulate. 

2: Huma Shah—Where are the women?

This session raised the question of diversity on computer science courses as it addressed the lack of female students on such courses. The conversation evolved into a much larger discussion as all attendees attempted to find possible causes and solutions for this disparity. Although my cohort of students is well balanced in terms of gender, I did notice from experience that those who end up working in high end design studios are mostly male. This is a personal observation, and may of course be flawed, but perhaps an interesting topic to research.

Another reason I found this particular session relevant is to do with the fact that I teach web-design to my students which is a side of graphic design renowned for it’s gender disparity: according to Findings From A List Apart Survey 2011, a poll created by and for Web designers, 81.4% of Web designers are male. Although an answer as to why this is happening wasn’t really identified in the session, talking about the issue raised my awareness and made me interrogate  it. If it is a matter of changing perceptions of coding or computer science this must start early on: workshops in schools and guest talks from accomplished female representatives might be a good place to begin. However, it dawned on me that I could make a big impact by being conscious of the designers I myself use in my case studies during lectures.

I am interesting in developing ways of balancing cohorts out and the discussion was productive—we identified that organising Open

1 Nov—PREVENT Workshop
20 Sept—Mental Health and Disability Workshop

These two workshops covered highly necessary tips on how to support and signpost vulnerable students. As a year tutor I have a responsibility to be proactive in helping students deal with challenges. The sessions were interesting because they exposed the complexity of dealing with notions of mental health and radicalisation. Matters of freedom of expression, were analysed. In a climate that places a big focus on terrorism I wonder how taking a vigilant approach affects our perception of students. How do we distinguish between a highly intelligent student who might go through a phase of making sense of the world’s unfairness so intensely mediatised and one who is at risk of being ‘brainwashed’?

How do you reach out to a student who might be struggling with depression but who is impossible to contact? Where do we draw the line and refrain from getting involved? These are all important questions to explore. Working and getting to know 90 students this year has taught me to always assume positive intent and that offering a helping had is always welcome and might just make all the difference.

15Dec—DMLL DOOO Forum

Based on my work for the collaborative project for MO3 I have been awarded a diploma as recognition for my engagement with Domains of One’s Own platform. The project my team and I defined, and which I designed can be viewed here and consists of a proposal aimed at easing student’s transition from FE to HE.

The award handing ceremony was more of a forum that allowed academics, myself included, already engaged with using blogs for pedagogic and personal aims to expose their work to the community. This was a great experience as I got to learn from best practice and find inspiring ways of taking my digital skills one step further.

Colleagues using WordPress as a platform to share research and thoughts on topics of interest persuaded me to start doing the same. Exposing one’s thoughts seems like a daunting task, but this kind of openness and engagement beyond the classroom walls can set a great example for students who need to consider how their work is received by their intended audiences.

One case study that stood out was media’s department use of blogs  to manage module information and communication with students as a supplement to Moodle. With a primarily outward and industry facing positioning, the use of blogs to share lecture content and relevant links to literature not only keeps students informed but also starts exposing the module to a larger audience which can have positive effects in terms of recruitment and marketing.

As a result of this enlightening conversation I have decided to roll out 22 blogs in the new semester to support and supervise student’s group work.

29 Nov—James Webb: Artist Talk

Whilst perhaps not a traditional CPD session, this talk by South African artist James Webb who has been commissioned by Coventry Cathedral to create a site-specific artwork has had a particular impact on my teaching. Hearing James talk about his previous projects, which deal with topics of diversity and inclusion within an art and design context resonated with me. As a graphic design lecturer I was reminded of the power of visual communication to bring people together. A particular art piece entitled ‘Prayer’ incentivised me to attempt introducing the concept of public engagement within my modules and encourage my students to explore a sense of place as a contrast to a highly internationalised curriculum. This is aligned with the University’s strategy and move towards more cohesive links with the city.

James Webb conceptual thinking and process provided a great example of a research driven practice and something my students could learn a lot from. This is way I use examples from Webb’s work to teach concept and idea making. His way of following a systematic process rooted in interrogation and pro-active search for almost serendipitous associations which are then synthesised into complete and resolved works can give students a transparent view of what design thinking really is.

7 Nov—Art and Technology Social: Kyle McDonald and Alex Taylor

I believe that to be an effective educator one must have up-to-date knowledge of the subject one teaches. Graphic design is a fast-paced discipline and an awareness of current practice is crucial.

Students seem to value when “Teaching staff maintain and improve their subject knowledge on a regular basis ” (Neves and Hillman 2017). It is for this reason and for personal development that I try to attend conferences and talks that expose cutting edge developments within the graphic design industry. If I expect life-long learning from my students it only makes sense to “practice what I preach”.

Art and Technology covered how basic artificial intelligence algorithms can facilitate interactive experiences and prompted a complex conversation on the nature of morality and ethics. Whilst coding and artificial intelligence is not likely to be part of my students skillset, graphic design practitioners are expected to understand the possibilities of tech. Graphic design is rarely an isolated practice and its implementation tends to rely on a wide range of stakeholders, from printers and copy writers to developers and programmers. Good marketing, advertising and campaign design relies on design’s ability to instil a sense of connection its users. Embracing the interactive capabilities of tech is therefore crucial in the current tech driven landscape. This knowledge is highly relevant to me as a leader of a digitally focused module that sees first year students thorough their first coding experience.

References:

Neves, J. and Hillman, N (2017) Student Academic Experience Survey. [online] York: Higher Education Academy. available from <http://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/2017-Student-Academic-Experience-Survey-Final-Report.pdf > [16 January 2018]