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Innovative Teaching Ideas - Communication

Annotated Anthology: Visual Communication

In 2014 CIDA issued a report stating that the existence of big data will allow designers to have “increasing opportunities to communicate complex ideas visually” (p. 6). As such, it is important for design students to develop visual literacy practices and gain a high-level competency in communicating information and ideas. The following readings (acquired from various domains) provide a framework of empirical and industry-based resources that provide design students with a general awareness of theoretical underpinnings and trends associated with design based communication.

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Peeling the Pomelo: Exploring Design Communication

In this era of computer mediated communication, information sharing, and complex consultant-client partnerships, designers are not always in the room to present their design intent to a wide range of stakeholders including clients, consultants, and facilities managers. Designers must be able to design their communication in such a way that their proposals and design intent can be understood without them having to be there to explain it. Developed as an experiential design communication exercise within a second level studio, this activity asks students to use the seemingly simple experience of peeling a pomelo to experiment with visual communication techniques to convey an unfamiliar process. The exercise allows students to interrogate all the decisions they make when they communicate visually so they can apply these lessons to communicating more complex ideas visually. Drawing on principles of information design, this exercise gives students the opportunity to think through the framework of effective design communication.

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Pre-Design: Exploring and Documenting the Design Problem and Context

Research in design fields is a growing priority for practitioners and educators alike. In preparation for successful practice, students must be trained in the process of making informed and relevant design decisions. This process is referred to as the Pre-Design phase of the project.

Pre-Design involves research, programming, and adjacency studies. In research, designers become familiar with the client, design typology (office, restaurant, etc.), and existing spatial constraints and features. Programming grows out of research to provide a list of needed spaces and their areas, a working concept, measurable goals for the project, and images that communicate the direction of the design. Lastly, adjacency studies are conducted based upon the research and programming. Designers must suspend the tendency to jump to a singular conclusion and rather provide diverse options for the client/instructor to evaluate. This process is applicable to multiple student project types and levels of study.

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The Design Critique Experience

The design critique is the traditional process for both formative and summative assessment where faculty and critics offer feedback on design projects, evaluate student performance, and engage students in critical discussion. For students who are new to this process, the design critique is often a daunting and sometimes unfavorable experience. This class assignment is an opportunity for students to learn about traditional and alternative forms of design critique and their role in the critique process.

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