The design department has a teaching philosophy which values and encourages the use of workbooks. A large portion of design briefs within the department stipulate that a workbook must be included as part of the hand in. There is often a considerable percentage of a total grade assigned to a workbook. In courses I teach it can be anywhere between 30% – 60%, the rationale in setting a large proportion of a grade to a workbook is to allow the documentation of a laboured, rich process on the pages. This workbook is handed in along with a well executed final outcome that has benefited from using the workbook as a tool to create and refine. A workbook often provides valuable insights into decisions, inspiration and considerations that are undertaken in the design process. When thinking about the design process I like to think of Damien Newman’s visualisation “The Squiggle”:
Newman’s Squiggle suggests that when an individual is participating in any design process it can be hectic and many parts of each process may be in a state of flux at any given time.
The example I’m going to discuss is taken directly from an interdisciplinary course called the POP UP SHOP which I co-teach with Lisa Richardson from Interior Design. The images from my first blog post are from the 2013 final outcome called POPSHOP.
A selection of year one and two students across all disciplines (Communication, Fashion, Interiors and Product) form independent student teams for three weeks. The team Lisa and I supervise are in charge of building, stocking and selling design outcomes made by students and staff at the DEBRIEF end of year exhibition in a pop up shop styled retail space. This project has been running with great success since 2010 and continues to grow.
The student cohort for this reason are incredibly varied and there is a rich blend of diversity and skills. Students are not individually graded they are instead given a group grade based on the strength of specific teams in achieving their set collective objectives. Interestingly, for this reason a workbook grade is not assigned to this course, despite the fact that the fundamental skills and processes documented in a workbook still need to be applied to achieve the group objectives. In particular visual research to gauge the current trends in retail spaces and other associated visual material to help stimulate ideas.
This year Lisa and I trialled the use of Pinterest for the first time as a flexible workbook alternative:
This piece of software is used as a scrapbooking alternative where signed in users can comment and share images harvested across the internet.
Although a formal/tangible workbook was not required we still needed our students to find appropriate images to help them imagine what the shop might look like and more importantly we needed them to share these images with the wider group. We set up small cluster groups to stimulate this type of research using Pinterest (see above).
Students were asked to gather at least 15 images and describe and respond to them, stating how aspects of the images may be applied to a potential concept. You can see in the above image the kind of conversational pathways that begun.
The benefits of this approach is students can quickly bond and connect with other students outside of their discipline and work together to harvest ideas. Students are free to post at anytime they wish and these posts are instantly live so interconnectivity and inclusiveness is heightened.
The barriers or issues can be the posting of superficial entries, it is important that the criticality and commentary that is contributed is of a high level to encourage and stimulate online conversation. Participates have to move beyond “this is cool” or “i like this” which is limited. Students are prompted by staff to extrapolate their ideas – in some cases external cluster facilitation was needed to tease out ideas.
Getting all students on board to use Pinterest was a little tedious as well – they have a structure which I guess guards their users from rouge pinners/commentators and general unwanted activity. We initially thought we could invite our students by using their poly email addresses but this didn’t work. This meant it was initially a little tricky getting all students to set up an account and follow us. See video below (sorry wordpress won’t let me do this without an upgrade so screenshots it is!).
Searching for our students within Pinterest:
Editing our POP SHOP board to include our student followers so they could pin: