Thought you’d enjoy this. Blow it up to full screen and sit back for 10 minutes.
Thought you’d enjoy this. Blow it up to full screen and sit back for 10 minutes.
Designer Emily Pilloton moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She’s teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers’ minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.
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I’ve referred to this project as Fraser Spiers’s project, conscious of the fact that it’s really everyone’s at the school. It’s just that he seems to be the lead for it, and is blogging about it. For a project like that to succeed it requires committment from everyone. DJCAD Jewellery student Dougie Kinnear was at a talk recently by a teacher from the school and reports that
The school only has 150 pupils and they have all been supplied with iPads. During the presentation the teacher demonstrated some of the ways she has been using the iPad to teach art related skills. She said that the pupils were engaging more with activities since the technology was introduced, one of the reasons she gave was that mistakes could be easily rectified and that gave the pupils the confidence to be more experimental.
The school itself, which now features the iPad in its advertising, has posted some of the reactions of their pupils on its own blog:
It makes homework and work in class more enjoyable. Jonathan
It’s pure awesome. It’s the size of a book but it can do a million things! Zander
Magical! It helps in all subjects especially art. It makes all of school more interesting. Beth
It makes homework much easier to do and so much easier to submit – you can do it all through email… it’s just very exciting! Chloe
Those are great early reactions (and the reactions of parents have been equally positive) but like I said yesterday, the proof of the pudding is in the cross-referencing and objective data collection (a little known proverb, admittedly). Some of the things the project has thrown up are limitations with the iPad itself that make full-scale implementation in education difficult – the lack of all-round screen mirroring being one (something that’s stopping me using it in class, in fact). Easily solved by Apple, I reckon, and such an obvious winner.
Hopefully the results live up to the expectations. Maybe we can get someone from the school in to DJCAD to give us a first-hand report.
Fraser Spiers’s Scottish iPad-in-schools experiment (not pictured above) continues apace, and he’s just blogged some of his thoughts so far.
What we’re reaching in some classes is the transformation stage. We’re seeing the iPad completely change the way that certain subjects are taught. Our best example so far is Art. I will write and share more about what we’re doing in Art over time but it’s fair to say that it is already far beyond anything I expected in the first year, let alone the first month.
At this point, all I can give you are some practical anecdotes which, I hope, will give you a flavour of the change.
- I picked up a ream of printer paper yesterday. It had dust on top of it.
- Primary 2 pupils have now memorised their passwords. That’s not something that happens when they get 40 minutes a week on computers.
- Last week, we couldn’t get the Primary 3 pupils to stop doing maths and go for lunch.
- My daughter April asked me if I could install the educational apps from school on my iPad so she could use them at home.
- We’re seeing a reduction in the amount of homework forgotten or not done.
- “Forgetting your folder” for a subject is now a thing of the past.
I’m intrigued by how it’s affecting art education, and suspect it would give some of the more traditional educators in this area a coronory, but I’m more interested in design education or if, in fact, what the iPad is doing is integrating previously distinct areas of the curriculum.
For example, earlier today I read a tweet from a teacher who was wondering why no schools in the UK claimed to specialise in “creativity” – a fair point. But my response was that I’d hope creativity would be part of the fabric of the place. Creativity isn’t a subject in its own right, and it certainly doesn’t belong solely in “art”. Instead it is the lifeblood of every subject from science to maths, from languages to music, from – well you get the idea. Why creativity is seen as something “separate” is, I suspect, one of the reasons why we’re not especially good at teaching it.
So take technology. When I was at school, technology was a subject in its own right, confusingly split in to “craft, design and technology” (or learning how not to cut your hand off with a bandsaw, as it really was) and “computer studies”, a subject so new in the 1980s we were still being taught about punched cards while loading programs from floppy disks – the curriculum had not only failed to catch up with reality, it probably never would. But what technology never did was encroach into other subjects. Oh dear no. Even calculators were still viewed with suspicion in maths where until a few years previously slide rules and log tables were about as exciting as it got.
In Fraser Speirs’s “experiment” (I hesitate to use the word as it suggests it’s something risky, temporary or bad) it’s clear just from the impressions above that the kids aren’t being taught “how to use technology” or even “taught using technology” but simply being taught. And actually, not so much being taught as “learning” – there is a difference.
Forcing them to put their maths down and go to lunch is a great story. But is it because they’re enjoying the maths, or is it because they’re enjoying the iPads? And does it matter? I hope someone’s doing a study of this process otherwise people are going to jump to all sorts of conclusions, but in the meantime what I think is interesting from a design point of view is that this is the implementation of technology as part of an action research project, i.e. “give them iPads, see what happens. If something goes wrong, adapt. Carry on”. That’s “design thinking” in action.
Having worked with technology in industry and education now for twenty years, and been frustrated by the (to my mind) overly cautious implementation of new products and approaches (which usually boils down to “IT say they’ve not approved that for general use”) this is refreshing. But at some point the powers that be will need to see the reports, the data, the graphs and so on to spread this further. I’d love to see them myself because I bet they’re interesting.
So what do you think? Take a look at Fraser’s blog and give us your responses.
Mac and iPhone/iPad developer Fraser Spiers (who created one of my favourite tools, ViewFinder, which I use constantly to write this blog) is experimenting with using iPads in a Scottish school and is blogging about his experiences.
Take a look – it’s a really interesting project. It’s annoying how some of the negative feedback has been about his use of iPads rather than cheap netbooks. It’s about education, and you need to use the best tools, not the cheapest or most “feature-laden”, particularly if those “features” end up having to be things you need to disable, tape over, or fix constantly.
Day one is over and it was pretty much an unqualified success. Early days, of course, but I’m just delighted that it all worked exactly as I had planned.
I’d love to tell you a story of techno-heroism in which I saved the day from certain disaster, because that would make a great story. Instead, like all the best flights, today was calm to the point of almost a wee bit dull.
Had a few classes today: a double period with S4 and another double period with S5. I took them through a quick tour of the iPad, including:
- The text selection and Cut/Copy/Paste UI, spelling and keyboard autocorrect.
- The main features of Pages and Keynote.
- Saving PDFs in iBooks and reading them.
- Sending and receiving documents via email.
Then we all read the Acceptable Use Policy together and in detail.
It was quite interesting. The kids were obvously excited to be getting iPads but not to the point of stupidity. I was pretty pleased with the way they fitted into the way the school works.
I got the impression that the kids were almost relieved to be working with iOS. I have no doubt that, for a lot of them, it’s already the OS they interact with most often.
One amusing anecdote: we installed a drawing app – I forget which one but it might have been Doodle Buddy – that allows kids to collaborate on drawings over the network. The kids were fiddling around with this app when there was a knock on the door. “Errm….Mr Speirs? Are your children doing something to my class’s iPads?”
Turns out some kids had been joining shared whiteboards on iPads in the other classroom. Hilarity ensued, of course.
Ah yes, never underestimate the ability of kids to find a way to annoy teachers.
via Fraser Speirs – Blog.
The Designers Accord is a global coalition of designers, educators, and business leaders, working together to create positive environmental and social impact.
In October 2009, they convened over 100 progressive individuals from academic and professional institutions all over the world for two days of highly participatory discussion, planning and action around the topic of design education and sustainability. The main activity was small-group brainstorming focused on answering these questions:
The event came up with a toolkit for students and educators to help embed sustainability in to the curriculum.
Find out more about it at The Designers Accord | Integrating sustainability into design education
(Thanks to Louise Valentine for the tip)
Rupert Murdoch, not someone I normally agree with, has made a widely reported comment on the iPad and tablet computing.
“I think we’re going to see, around the world, hundreds and hundreds of millions of these devices,” said Murdoch on a conference call with Wall Street analysts. “There will be all sorts of things we can do with them. As they develop technologically, we’ve got to develop our methods of presentation of news.”
For most people, the focus of his comments was probably in terms of money – how he and other publishers can arrest declines in newspaper revenue. But the reason I chose this one quote is important. It’s something I think we’ve been missing for a while: “we’ve got to develop our methods of presentation of news”.
Most design processes for “new media” like the web and now tablet computing have their roots in print design and I would guess that most designers working in this area went through years of training and education in print-based techniques. Is this approach still relevant? Should design courses look at this medium differently, or separately?
You can see the problem if you look at two examples on the iPad, Wired and Flipboard.
I have both on my iPad and Wired is a great demonstration of the potential of tablet publication, but also the frustration that comes when that potential isn’t followed through. The Wired app offers aspects you don’t get in the print publication such as video, animation and of course interactivity. But it’s still the print publication in terms of layout and even navigation. And it turns out that the method for producing it is, I have to say, an appalling cop-out from Adobe of simply outputting massive image files for every page. As others have pointed out, this is like a return to the old days of interactive CD ROMs which for a while battled it out with the early web as a publication model.
The end result of this approach is massive files and essentially a cheap business model based on repurposing content developed for an old medium.
Flipboard, on the other hand, seems to take a better approach (although a controversial one, by “scraping” content from the web and RSS feeds to present a publication based on user interests. If you’ve not tried Flipboard and have access to an iPad, give it a go.
The graphical presentation of Flipboard is familiar from print but the technical presentation is not. It’s not necessarily the way things will turn out, but it’s a pointer. And I think the two models I’ve mentioned, Wired and Flipboard, are good examples of the divergence in approaches to graphic design on these devices.
The difference is technical. The Wired approach takes the print publication and converts it, with added bells and whistles, to something that can be viewed on the iPad. Well you can do that with HTML5. But Wired’s starting point is with the design.
The Flipboard approach starts with the content. This is, I think, the “game-changer” and Murdoch is right to identify content as the USP of his business. (Google, meanwhile, sells “users” as it’s commodity rather than content, although the users don’t see that, they see “content” even though most of it is pretty awful).
Flipboard is on the other side of those two, seeing content as its prime function. Of course that’s what’s getting it in to trouble as the content it’s scraping is being paid for by advertising that users are now not seeing. And this is where “business model” clashes with “design”. Flipboard is liberating readers from advertisers, but ignoring the fact that without advertisers, there will be nothing for people to read.
At the end of the day a publication has to make money either by charging people for access to content, or by charging advertisers for access to readers (Google’s approach), or by a mix of both (Murdoch’s approach).
So there’s still some work to do on this though Apple’s iAds platform may offer a way forward as it intends to offer ads based on user interests rather than Google’s model of offering ads based on keywords. The idea there is a throwback to the television advertising ideal of placing ads in front of an audience that is likely to be interested (so put “sell your gold” ads on when people who are poor are watching, and “buy our gold” ads on when the rich folk are watching). Google’s approach means everyone sees the “10 tips to a flat stomach” or “white teeth can be yours” regardless of who they are.
But a few things come out of this. Firstly, graphic and interaction design education needs to catch up and take a lead on this via teaching and research. Teaching print-based approaches and expecting them to be transferable just doesn’t seem appropriate. And secondly the realities of the business of publication, in whatever medium, need to be more central to design education, because only with an understanding of how the publishing business works can we design solutions that meet the expectations of both sides, publisher and reader. Readers will always be there. But publishers may not be.
Basically, design is more closely related to science, engineering, technology and maths than it is to art… especially in terms of what it offers the economy and society.
(I happen to agree, but what about you?)
Design Council chief executive David Kester has called for a change in the categorisation of design education. In a speech delivered at the Liberal Democrat Party conference fringe in Bournemouth yesterday, Kester called for design to be more closely linked within Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects. Stem subjects are regarded as strategically important to the UK economy and are ringfenced in terms of research funding. Earlier this year, Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, former rector of the Royal College of Art, called for design to be included as a Stem subject, saying, ‘The dots aren’t being joined up. Engineering and technology are rated, but design isn’t. The big issue now is making design a Stem subject.’ In his speech, Kester also called for a sustainability element to be embedded across education, and for the nature and value of creativity to become an integral part of all learning. He said, ‘Our educators have a responsibility to bring hard business and technological skills together with creative problem-solving capabilities.
Design Week reports on an initiative I think is long overdue:
The outgoing rector of the Royal College of Art, Professor Sir Christopher Frayling, is set to mount a campaign to persuade Government to rethink its categorisation of design education.
Frayling has signalled an intention to go to ‘the highest level’ to talk to the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills and Business Secretary Peter Mandelson to argue for the inclusion of design as a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) subject. Stem subjects are regarded as strategically important to the UK economy and ‘ringfenced’ in terms of research funding.
Frayling’s move has been prompted by a cut in research budgets for some of the UK’s major design higher education institutions, including the RCA, University of Sussex, University of the Arts London and Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication (www.designweek.co.uk, 5 March).
Frayling points out that although the RCA ‘dramatically’ improved its positioning for the Research Assessment Exercise, it had its funding cut. ‘What’s interesting is that Mandelson spoke [last week] about the importance of research in the creative industries, and days later funding is cut,’ says Frayling. ‘The dots aren’t being joined up. Engineering and technology are rated, but design isn’t. The big issue now is making design a Stem subject.
‘Everyone understands the relationship between science and manufacturing, but what they don’t get is design as the crucible of the creative industries. Government thinks that it is a lightweight subject, about styling and art, that it isn’t grown-up stuff,’ he adds.
James Dyson feels that the Government’s ‘arbitrary division’ of engineering and design is short-sighted. ‘We need to move away from the old stereotypes: engineering as difficult, design as fluffy. Our best design engineers are both artistic and scientific.
‘Investment is required across the whole spectrum: science and engineering, but creative thinking and new ideas too,’ he says.
A spokesman for the Higher Education Funding Council for England says, ‘It may be that in multi-faculty universities, design is carried out as engineering. We protected the science subjects but didn’t move the money from the arts. In fact, [overall] funding for the arts has gone up. We’re not questioning the role of the arts in the economy, but there’s a limited pot of money.’
Design Research Grant Uses
• Nottingham Trent University’s research budget has increased. Research projects include a robotic snake, developed with Merlin Robotics
• Some of the Royal College of Art’s research budget is ploughed into the Helen Hamlyn Centre, which works on patient safety, inclusive design and workplace design projects
• University of the Arts London uses part of its research budget to support knowledge-transfer projects between design and industry, according to Professor Keith Bardon, UAL Pro-rector, Research and Enterprise
One of the things he said is:
The most interesting point I took from this though was the different generational views not just on the technology used, but on the content. Members of staff who had experienced life in the pre-digital where concerned about the lack of privacy and anonymity that is available. Whereas students felt this to be less of a concern. Once we put something up on the Internet, it becomes available for all to see, and therefore we become available to be judged and scrutinised on our personal lives and thoughts possibly intended only to be seen by certain people.
I don’t know but he might be referring to me there about the concern for lack of privacy and anonymity. I know it’s certainly an issue for many, not just the “older generation”. My point though was more about what people want to know about me – I’m now followed by a dozen or more students on Twitter which is okay, but it means I’ve now started to think very carefully about what I type, not because I’m concerned about my privacy, but I’m concerned about how it might be read. Some people like there to be a distance between tutors and students in that respect.
I think in the question I asked at the end of the talk I was alluding to an unwritten rule – if you follow me on Twitter you do so on the understanding that what’s said on Twitter stays on Twitter.
DHTP has a Twitter feed – oh yes. I’ve started to use it again recently to send out updates about lectures etc. If you’re a Twitter user, follow “DHTP”. Note that it is set up to automatically follow you back which I can’t switch off, so you might want to “block DHTP” so I’m not bombarded by your every waking thought. Especially useful if you’re Twittering about only starting work on your assignment the night before. It’s happened!
So what do you think of social networking tools as a way of meeting potential clients, employers, collaborators etc? And what about their use in education?
By the way – if you haven’t seen the video of the talk, do it now. It’s really interesting.