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 ‘Smartness’ online is the product of teamwork

It is a chamber orchestra rather than a philharmonic:  rarely an unsupported solo act.
Content very quickly looks tired and dated unless it is relevant, well expressed. Where delivered digitally it has to have those apparent and hidden ‘clever bits.’ It links to stuff, it engages, it might embed video, it invites people to connect and share … i.e. an eNewsletter is so much more than a piece of print distributed by email.

This graphic is my attempt to explain this further: content (text, images, video), with design (layout, branding, readability) and ‘smart‘ (links, tracking/understanding the audience, share, interaction … and much that I can’t even start to imagine that can make a more personalised ‘communiqué.’
My role of the digital editor, like an editor on any platform, print, TV, or radio, as well as creating or editing/managing the content, must make sure that the audience get this extra ‘smart‘ input. This is both whatever an eNewsletter does on the surface: register with this, join that, read this, do that, come to this, action that, but also the ‘analytics’ in the background.
I choose to receive eNewsletters from all kinds of organisations and have been looking at them closely. Keeping up is not easy. The very best are simple, clear, readable in a wink, engaging … and invariably connect invitingly to committing to a paid subscription or membership and want you to read it every month too.
If I should set a goal for any eNewsletter it is that not only does it engage and appeal to my readers, but they think it’s so interesting they want to share it with potential new readers.
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Open and free learning needs to preach to the converted

Fig. 1 My big sister and me

‘Preach to the converted’ is the mantra of advertising; increasingly it should the mantra of e-learning, and especially of Massive Open Online Courses which are both open and free. Give potential students what they want in a way that they are already open to. Don’t force feed platforms and tools that are foreign to them, nor pander to the book, pen and notebook when by its very nature if you are learning online you are in front of a computer screen. Think more in terms of the needs of the student, than of the willingness of the faculty to give this kind of e-learning a go. Engage someone with a background in communications.

‘Preach to the converted’ ties into the need to know who your students are – in all their diversity. There’s a bunch of personas used by the Open University to help with this. We’re a handful of shifting types across a spectrum of some 12 personas. This helps educators design for hidden, massive audiences.

Fig.2. The Santorini Museum

Big Sis and me both wanted a book from the Santorini Museum.  

We’d done the Akrotiri excavation and did the museum in our separate ways (family event on the island with people arriving at different times and staying in different place. When we met up we agreed immediately at the frustration at no having a shop at either location. You whet your appetite on a subject are ripe for a bit more. I even started looking for a two week course on Archaeology in Future Learn. No book. Not much of a website. Ample content with each artefact.

Visitors to museums are converts; not just easy to sell postcards and tea-towels too, but ready to learn and suckers not just for ‘the book’, but just as prepared to come to the talk, even, these days, to sign up to a taster course.

Pen and ink drawing class at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

Fig.1 Chair and shade

It was like being back at school: though the ratio of 15 women to 3 men felt like I’d gate-crashed the girl school’s class down the road; I was educated in all male schools from 4 to 19. Of the 15 two were under 20, two were under 30 and the others above 60 and 70. No difference. Just like school. I recognised this swimming with Masters that given any opportunity to be the child that we were we are.

My relationship with art is an odd one: a mother who taught art, had an MA from Durham University in Fine Art, but who discounted at as a career for any of her children. I took it as far as A’levels (under her tutelage).

In 90 minutes we has some history, so thoughts on kit, then we got on with it. I found a secluded spot in the central courtyard (Jerwood Gallery, Hastings). And picked first on the climbing plants on a wall, and then the chair I’d taken out of the class. My challenge was to look at different ways of adding shade. Eventually I found that changing from pen to cotton balls and ink would differentiate between the object and the shadow. This’ll take further work.

Other learning opportunities over the last few days have included:

Power Boat II (Refresher)

It is eight or more years since I did the course and seven years since I’ve been in a power boat. A bit of it came back. And new stuff was added. I need this so that I can operate a ‘rib’ during ‘racing week’ at the local sailing club: laying the course, keeping an eye on the fleet to rescue and assist. The sea can be choppy, the winds strong. Dinghies go over and their mast can pin them to the shallow sand and grit of Seaford Bay.

How to train a pigeon

In her wisdom my daughter has rescued a pigeon with a broken wing. The RSPB and animal sanctuaries aren’t interest. ‘Ralph’ is now accommodated in a garden shed; shits everywhere but is eating from my daughter’s hand. Muggins will be looking after it shortly of course. The volume of pebble-dash shit is impressive as every shit is onto a fresh patch of shed floor – it will be one shit deep, like a carpet by the weekend.

Graphic Design

The exhibition on the designer Ivan Chermeyeff at the De La Warr is so good I’ve been back three times. There is no book on this exhibition, though many of his books are nailed to a table to admire (the page it has been opened at), with a few books you can browse. There is an insightful video too – an interview with the designer talking about how he got into fine art and graphic design from an inspiration father. One of the things he talks about is ‘learning to see’. Had photography not been banned I would not have got out a pad of paper and looked more closely at his collages. Had I not taken such a close look I wouldn’t have seen, with magical surprise, that one was made from ephemera collected at the inauguration of JFKennedy as US President on January 20 1961.

Don’t make it easy

Fig. 1 Some ideas from the Ivan Chermayeff ‘Cut and Paste’ exhibition at the De La Warr, Bexhill

As photography isn’t allowed instead of moving from the gallery with my iPhone or camera clicking at everything and anything that caught my eye I was obliged to get out a sketch pad. Just as Ivan Chermayeff says in a exhibition video ‘most people don’t know how to see’.

We risk making everything too easy with e-learning: photos, screengrabs, instant research, transcripts of video, video as audio only or highlights or summaries thanks to others.

The above ideas were for:

a) A School of Visual Arts talk he was giving with a colleague

b) Arthritis – with letters torn from a type font catalogue and jumbled around

c) Mother and Child in modern art – a signal Magritte or Matisse like cut out.

What I would have missed entirely, and I do it no justice here, is a collage of tickets and seating allocation to the inauguration of John F Kennedy on the 20th January 1961. (Before my time, I’d been conceived a few weeks before at a New Year’s Eve party. Not even I can remember that far back).

Fig.2 Sketch of an Ivan Chermayeff collage/poster using bits and pieces from attendance at the inaugurations of US President J F Kennedy

Ivan Chermayeff ‘Cut and Paste’ @ the De La Warr, Bexhill.

Fig.1 Ivan Chermeyff – interviewed on his life in design

The pleasure from every exhibition I attend at the De La Warr is that they are modest in scope and ambition, engaging and inspiring without being overwhelming and curated in a way that gives you, other visitors, the art works and other parefenalia ample space.

The centre piece for IVan Chermayeff “Cut and Paste’ is for me the short, professionally executed, warming video biography in which Chermayeff gives a potted history of his life, influences and work; about as much as you’d cover in an episode of ‘Desert Island’ discs, though here, instead of music, you can then wonder off and look at examples of his work, works in progress and playfulness.

No transcript is offered so here are some excerpts and bullet points from mine.

Interviewed on two cameras Ivan Chermayeff waxes lyrical, the chronology from childhood and ealy influences, through art school and his early graphic design business, family and beyond; he’s in his eighties. His father emigrated to the US in the 1930s or 1940s I guess from the UK.

“For me inspiration is everywhere; I find it everywhere. I make a lot of visual connections by keeping my eyes and mind open to everything I see. It leads a lot into my design”.

His father architect as the biggest inspiration

“No matter what garbage at the age four, or making messes, he would always say that it was really great. And that was true of everything I did, no matter what. Instead of stopping you doing what you were doing because you wanted to make your old manhappy”.

His father he describes as both an educator and a self-taught architect.

Free spirited and supported. Moved everywhere.
Went to a lot of schools. 24. Andover (four years).
Allowed to do it in a free and open way.

Got to Harvard
Took any classes across the university.

Then

Design School, Chicago
Like a workshop of a school
Experimenting with design problems.

I then spent seven years recovering from my education

Trying to define what design meant

Design is all about seeing
You’ve got to learn how to see
You’ve got to make connections that are not necessarily obvious

“Be interested in training yourself to look around, to notice connections, such as a small colour connection, or the tinniest thing that brings two things together”.

Everybody who I find inspiring are artists who make great connections.

Iko Tannaka – Japanese Designer
We just liked what the other one was doing
Nice to have an inward connection with someone
Recognise that it is worth looking at.

I can’t sit still, so I’m always making things, so I make collages. I just prefer scissors to brushes.

Paul And

Don’t try to be original, just try to be good.

I never do anything that I didm’ think was damned good.

Work Ethic
Completely open understanding that we can contribute to what the other is doing at his desk.

Half the time a company doesn’t tell you what it wants accurately, you have to redefine what it is they want … and turn it into reality.

it can be as simple as finding a relationship between two letters in the alphabet or typeface that are original or say something.

Graphic design is all about audience after all … convince your client … they don’t tell you adequately what it is all about. If they were capable of do that they’d do it all themselves.

MOBIL
Held up extremely well
Business confirmation that we did a good job.

“I have intention of retiring ever”.

 

The video was created and produced by executive Producers

 

Ignacious Oearmun

Evee Kornblum

and directed by

Rick Boyko

Positive and negative feedback, especially if constructive, sends a shiver through my bones.

Just ten minutes. A live online presentation. Why for me should it be such a big deal?

I said to my wife that I have not problems delivering other people’s words (acting) and I have no trouble writing words for others to speak (speech writer, script writer), but what I loathe and struggle with is delivering my own words on any kind of platform.

Big fails on this count, emotionally at least would include:

  • My grandfather’s funeral
  • My groom’s wedding speech (I was pants at proposing too)
  • My father’s funeral
  • My mother’s funeral

Because it matters to me far too much when, and only when, the words that I give seem to emanate from my soul.

Let me blog, let me write letters, let me smoulder from my ears into the atmosphere with no expectation of feedback.

Both positive and negative feedback, especially if constructive, sends a shiver through my bones. Why is it that I crave confrontation, that I want to be mentally smacked around the head, then kicked up the arse and sent back into the fray to deliver some amazing show of ability?

We are all so, so, so very different, yet how we are taught, or expected to learn seems so very contrived, so set by context and numerous parameters.

I would prefer to be stuck in a cabin for a couple of weeks with an educator who hasn’t a clue about the subject, but is a natural educator, than someone who has ticked a collection of boxes in order to obtain their position. The natural educator can teach anything. The subject matter expert thinks they know everything.

eLearning can be the subject matter expect – ‘IT’ (literally) thinks it knows it all.

So, connect me, and for me connect students and educators – worry only about the desire and ability to teach or transmit and mange those hungry to gain knowledge, and for students concentrate almost entirely on motivation. If they want to learn pores will open up in their skull so that you can pour in the information and they’ll never be satiated.

The Digital Brain – envisaged at the Design Museum

Fig. 1. A mash-up in Picasa of a 3D laser generated image generated at the Design Museum during their ‘Digital Crystal’ exhibition.

The image exists and is transformed by the presence of the observer in front of a Kinex device making this a one-off and an expression or interpretation of that exact moment.

‘Working with dreams’ and ‘Keeping a dream journal’ are taught creative problem solving techniques at the Open University Business School. I did B822 ‘Creativity, Innovation and Change’ in 2012 (Henry et al 2010). I have the problem solving toolkit. I even got a hardback copy of VanGundy’s book on creative problem solving.

Using your unconscious isn’t difficult. Just go to bed early with a ‘work’ related book and be prepared to write it down when you stir.

I woke soon after 4.00am.

I’d nodded off between 9.30 and 11.30 so feel I’ve had my sleep.

Virtual bodies for first year medical students to work on, an automated mash-up of your ‘lifelog’ to stimulate new thinking and the traditional class, lecture and university as a hub for millions – for every student you have in a lecture hall you have 1000 online.

Making it happen is another matter.

I’m writing letters and with far greater consideration working on a topic or too for research.

“Nights through dreams tell the myths forgotten by the day.” — C.G. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections)

How to work with a dream or metaphorical image:

  • Enter the dream
  • Study the dream
  • Become the images
  • Integrate the viewpoints
  • Rework the dream

Appreciating, reflecting, looking forward and emerging

REFERENCE

Glouberman, D. (1989) Life Choices and Life Changes Through Imagework, London, Unwin, pp. 232-6

Henry, J., Mayle, D., Bell, R., Carlisle, Y. Managing Problems Creatively (3rd edn) 2010. The Open University.

Isaacson, W. (2011) Steve Jobs. Little Brown.

VanGundy, A.B. (1988) Techniques of structured problem solving (2nd edn), New York: Van Nostran Reinhold.

 

 

 

When it comes to e-learning how do you see yourself? Learning Designer, Writer, Architect?

Fig.1. Building Construction W B McKay 1943

Are you the learning architect or the learning builder?

It is flattering to the group from Learning & Development that they can be likened to architects. Whilst many will have a degree, some don’t – whilst some may have a post graduate qualification, very few do. None I’m sure will have spent six or seven years in formal study that has lead to recognition by the Royal College of E-Learning Designers – there is no such professional qualification, nor is there any period of formal study, a mix of studio work and academic research, that leads to a qualification of  this calibre.

The exceptions are those with first degrees and MBAs and at the pinnacle of this discussion, Christopher Alexander who has first and second degrees from Cambridge and a PhD in architecture from Harvard.

Many in academia have the second degree and PhD – but they generally lack the experience designing learning outside undergraduate and postgraduate tertiary education, which is quite a diffderent beast to the short courses and continual professional development desired in the workplace.

If I were to take the building trade by way of an analogy I would say that the learning and development manager is the client – while the architect is an agent or agency that you hire in for their design expertise and knowledge of foremen and project managers, builders and electrcians – the project leaders, programmers and art directos of e-learning creation.

The L&D manager may be a subject matter expert but is far more likely to draw upon expertise from within their organisation.

Which of the following made the biggest contribution to your learning when you first set out in your current career asked Clive Shepherd?

Fig.2. What has contributed most to your learning?

This depends of course on when a person knew they were set on a career path.

How many people come into Learning & Development (L&D) having decided on this path as an undergraduate?

As a graduate trainee I expected a mix of on the job and formal training – this mix turned out to be around 95% to 5% while contemporaries elsewhere were getting 50/50 of none at all. This is the formal way of graduate training and can last two or three years. Think of lawyers (barristers and trainee solicitors), accounts, bankers and teachers … doctors, dentists, vets and architects.

Clive Shepherd who recently gave an insightful presentation on The New Learning Architect says he got the idea of the new learning architect at presentation gave by Jay Cross on informal learning.  

Away from the presentation I like to click around as for me to understand a concept it helps to perceive its inception.

In turn, if you check the references for Jay Cross’s 2006 ‘Informal Learning: Rediscovering the Natural Pathways that Inspire Innovation and Performance’ you’ll find where his ideas may have came from –  Robert A Heinlein (1961) ‘Strangers in a Strange Land’ and R Nelson Bolles (2005) ‘What Color’s Your Parachute’ are there along with John Seely Brown (2005) ‘The Only Sustainable Edge’.

There are some inspirational ideas and link here:

Jay Cross : Important Stuff

Informal learning

Workflow learning ties learning into the actual workflow within an organisation. According to Jay Cross it takes us to support and on-demand services that are designed to exist within the real tasks we do in our everyday work.Out of this work on workflow learning came an even wider, and what he regards as more important set of reflections.



Fig.3. Zoom.It History of Corporate Education.

This timelines the history of corporate and executive training. It is like a touch-screen and zoome control all in one. The Bayeux Tapestry in digital form (now there’s an idea over 900 years old). I spotted a typo – you’ll find it says something about  ‘Toyota: Clean Production’ rather than Lean Production. We should consider the content in other ways – I know a PLC that set up an internal ‘university’ in the mid 1970s – or maybe they called in a training centre. Same difference?

If Clive Shepherd got his idea of the learning architect from Jay Cross I imagine Jay Cross  in turn got the idea from a Christopher Alexander.

Christopher Alexander’s Notes on the Synthesis of Form was required reading for researchers in computer science throughout the 1960s. It had an influence in the 1960s and 1970s on programming language design, modular programming, object-oriented programming, software engineering and other design methodologies.  He is cited through-out the Open University’s Masters in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) as an originator of design practice that was applied to computer design and therefore could be applied to e-learning design.

Here’s the education of someone who can rightfully call themselves an architect and do so in the context of learning, even of e-learning.

In 1954, Christopher Alexander was awarded the top open scholarship to Trinity CollegeCambridge University in chemistry and physics, and went on to read mathematics. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a Master’s degree in Mathematics. He took his doctorate at Harvard (the first Ph.D. in Architecture ever awarded at Harvard University), and was elected fellow at Harvard. During the same period he worked at MIT in transportation theory and in computer science, and worked at Harvard in cognition and cognitive studies.

Fig.4. The Timeless Way of Building

‘The Timeless Way of Building’ proposes a new theory of architecture (and design in general) that relies on the understanding and configuration of design patterns.It is these design patterns that came to the attention of creators of e-learning modules in the 21st century, the idea that designs for subjects or cohorts might be replicated and shared across the online learning community so that you might say a fits an undergraduate arts course, while b is the model for a health & safety module in industry, c gives you language learning in primary school while d offers an elective in urology to 4th year medical students.

To become an architect requires a considerable commitment.

Take the three year undergraduate course in architecture at the University of Cambridge

Entry Requirements: A* AA : Likely to include Maths and Art or History of Art.

Students may stay on at Cambridge to complete an MPhil at RSA exams to qualify in six years (this includes a year in a placement)

‘The three year BA(Hons) course is unusual in the University in combining both arts and sciences. As such it provides a unique range of skills which lead to a wide range of careers, not just architecture’.

Throughout the BA tripos studio work carries 60% of the marks.

The remaining 40% is made up from exams and other forms of coursework (dissertations, etc). Studiowork in all years is handed in for marking at the end of the year. Studiowork is time-consuming and probably requires more hours per week than any other course in the University. Students are also expected to work during the Christmas and Easter vacations.

I labour this point because as someone who has gone from corporate communications and video based training to computer based training and e-learning I would never liken myself to a cardiologist, even a qualified lawyer or certified accountant, let alone an architect. An educator perhaps, but I don’t have a formal teaching qualificaiton, only sports coaching and the MAODE when I graduate early next year.

Fig. 5. BRICKS – Building Construction W B McKay 1943

Several other analogies have been used in the e-learning literature, some that still have a building or architecture theme to them.

What we get here is learning design broken down to brick sized components, some call them ‘interactivities’ (a term I often here working in a design agency). I find the idea of atoms in a chemical reaction (Wiley, 2001) too small, even if we are dealing with binary code it isn’t something that we see anymore. Gilly Salmon (2002) would have liked ‘e-tivities’ to catch on – she puts these in a logical sequence, building blocks towards a module. At the Open University they tend to be called ‘Learning Objects’. Chris Pegler (2004) finds this too static and unresponsive preferring if we go with the Lego analogy, or Technics. Littlejohn et al (2008) describe these components as:

Digital assets – a single item, image, video or podcast or an nformation objects: a structured aggregation of digital assets designed purely to present information.

Learning activities -tasks involving interactions with information to attain a specific learning outcome.

Learning design – structured sequences of information and learning activities to promote learning.

Fig. 5. BRICKS – Building Construction W B McKay 1943

For pure aspiration I like the digital architect as a goal for an undergraduate setting out on a long course of formal and applied study. L&D directors and managers approach an e-learnign agency as they would a firm of architects and together they write a brief. This is propoposed, scheduled and costed then a scheme of work begins.

The delivery, depending on the scale of it, might be akin to anything from a brick arcade (health and safety induction to leisure staff) to a bungalow to a housing estate (induction of trainee solicitors in an national firm of solictors), an office block or a factory (long term management development for an international engineering business).

REFERENCE

Alexander, C (1970) The Timeless Way of Buidling

Cross, J (2006) The Informal Learner

Downes, S (2000) Learning Objects. Available from http://www.newstrolls.com/news/dev/downes/col;umn000523_1.htm

Littlejohn, Falconer, Mcgill (2008) Characterising effective eLearning (sic) resources

Pegler, C and Littlejohn, A (2004) Preparing for Blended e-Learning, Routledge.

Salmon, G (2002) E-tivities

Shepherd, C (2011) The New Learning Architext

Wiley, D.A. (2000) Connecting Learning Objects to instructional design theory: a definition, a metaphor, and a taxonomy. In D.A. Wiley (ed), The instructional use of Learning Objects. Available from http://reusability.org/read/chapters/wiley.doc

Lawrence Lek at the Design Museum 2012

Fig.1. Lawrence Lek at the Design Museum

Both would learn from each other if given half a chance.

In swimming we talk about Long Term Athlete Development to differentiate by age and gender from around sge 4/5 to adult competitive swimmers in their 20s. Being a Masters swimmer too I reckon we regress.

What role does context play? I’m sure the 41 year old learns differently at a desk in an office than on an iPad at home.

The Design Museum 2012

Fig.1. Lawrence Lek at the Design Museum, Shad Thames, London.

Seen it once, then again with my 14 year old son – and for a third time with my 16 year old daughter next week. Potentially with other members of our extended family and friends too. I should have bought a season ticket.

The Design Museum is unique – I spent time with EVERY exhibit. I need a couple of hours every day over ten days. That’s how much it resonates with me – the stories, the process, the end result.

There are three galleries:

FIRST FLOOR

Fig.2. Jessica Ennis takes the stairs to the first floor seven at a time

Innovation in Sport – design with a bias towards the Olympics and Paralympics, with Formal 1, Le Mans, hand-gliding, surfind and a few other sports too. Sixteen sports people silhouettes on the walls in the stairwell – how do you physically match up to Jessica Ennis, Messi, Phelps or Sharapova?

SECOND FLOOR

Fig. 3. A 3d rendering of a crystal whose shape is formed by your presence and movement (courtesy of a Konex device and a laser)

Digital Memory – a dozen designers, architects and conceptual artists play with Swarovski crystal to express what memory is. Most mind blowing, all beautifully displayed with headsets explaining what is going on in the artist’s words and other interactive screens – and ‘augmented’ content from wif-fi and 3g.

SECOND FLOOR – SECOND GALLERY

Fig. 4. Yuri Suzuki at the Design Museum

Designers in Residence – six young innovators set a brief, there journey of discovery, experiment and creation lovingly recreated with video, artefacts, audio and displays – and a take-away booklet.

With half-term upon us where do you recommend taking children, young adults and their friends? How does this change if you are their grandparent or parent of a friend? Can you cater for them all? What might it cost?

The cost of getting into the Tower of London made my jaw-drop – £23 for an adult? £55 for a family ticket!! I think I’ll leave it for another 1000 years.

The Wellcome Foundation ‘Super Human’ exhibition and other galleries are free (and lunch is great too).

The Design Museum was £11 for an adult, £7 for a student

Where in the world do you go? We all have our favourites.

 

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