I am the Adjunct Faculty Member Teaching Your Young

I just finished reading Catherine Stukel’s letter to the editor in The Chronicle, “Is That Whining Adjunct Someone We Want Teaching Our Young?” and outraged doesn’t even begin to cover what I’m feeling. I had to write a response to her letter. I have sent the letter to The Chronicle also, but as my guess is that they have been inundated with angry letters from adjuncts, I thought I would post it here. She could not be more off base as to what the adjunct movement is about and who these adjuncts are “whining” about their place in academia.

To the editor:

I am one of the whiny adjuncts Catherine Stukel spoke about in her August 25th letter to the editor. I am one of the adjuncts Ms. Stukel believes doesn’t understand compromise or hard life choices. I am one of the adjuncts Ms. Stukel believes contributes to a culture of entitlement with today’s youth. I am one of the adjuncts that Ms. Stukel says needs “to put on her big girl panties.”

Let me tell you a little about myself. I turned to teaching more after the financial crash cost me my full time design job because that was where the jobs were at the time. I taught as many as ten classes in a semester between several schools because I never knew what the next semester would bring. I did this while still working as a freelance graphic designer and advising when I had “extra” time. For a long time, 80-hour work weeks were normal life for me. I didn’t do this to prove how much I could successfully balance or for any kudos. I did it because I have bills to pay and more importantly because I like teaching and helping students. This cost me my personal life and sometimes my sanity. However, it was the smartest choice for my career and my financial well being at the time.

After the one college eliminated its design program and the other college drastically cut advising hours so they didn’t have to pay additional benefits, I made the hard but practical choice to return to working as a graphic designer full time while still teaching at night. I would note that even with my experience and diverse skill set that jobs are not that easy to come by outside academia especially when you have teaching commitments to honor until the end of the semester. I miss being with students more and they give me guilt trips for not being there to advise any more. Again, I made the hard choice to do what was best for me financially, not what made me happy.

This current semester I will be working a full time design job, teaching two classes, and finishing a master’s degree in a new area of study. I will also be fitting in some freelance design as my schedule allows, conducting professional development sessions on campus for other faculty, and presenting at a conference. Again, I don’t want praise for my schedule. I’m just stating my reality. I am one of the lucky ones who have managed to make a decent living, but it cost me in other ways.

I have a good relationship with the full time faculty in my department. I happily work with them and assist as needed in the department. I do not begrudge them their full time status. I step up whenever possible even if it is a text message at midnight or later asking if I can cover their 8 am class in the morning. When the full time faculty did not want to advise when advising was moved to a central location on campus, I happily stepped up to help ensure our students were getting good advice on taking the right classes to complete their degree on time. I happily took the classes the full time faculty did not want to teach and I agreed to teach online when others did not want to. I don’t ask for praise or kudos for these activities. I clearly benefit personally from them. I just want the respect I deserve for playing my role in the department.

I’m lucky to teach a college that pays its adjuncts well. Benefits are available but the cost is often prohibitive to adjuncts. I feel appreciated for the most part, but I know that is unique to my department and my co-workers. However, I’m well aware that writing this could get me in hot water as I do not have the protection of tenure to allow me to speak my mind with worry of retribution.

I know I am just one voice among many who also make the same hard decisions and compromises. I know am also not alone as an adjunct that loves to teach and loves their students. I know I am not alone in being grateful for the opportunities I do have in academia. I know I am not alone in wanting the respect I deserve. That’s not whining. That’s not complaining. That’s not being entitled. That’s standing up for your rights and asking for respect. I think that is a great lesson to teach students.

I don’t complain or whine about my life. It took a lot for me to even write this. I own my choices. I own the compromises and sacrifices I’ve made and the affects they’ve had on my life. I don’t believe I’m entitled to anything beyond respect based on performance. I am the person Ms. Stukel says should not be a role model for the next generation.


CEP811: Maker Experiment #3

This week I am reflecting on my experiences in my CEP811 class and the Maker culture. The emphasis on Maker culture fascinates me because I teach in a discipline that is and has always been about making. Art and specifically graphic design involves creating or making whether for personal pursuits or for clients. My students create almost every week in the class. I have struggled a little with making my Graphic Design Survey class more interactive than a traditional art history type class. This course has provided some thoughts about how to better incorporate making into this course that really doesn’t lend itself well to interactive activities. I chose the Makey Makey kit because I saw several artistic experiments on the site and felt it could be a good tool for use in my classroom. I still see the potential and plan to spend my break exploring it further beyond my past experiments. Additionally, I did try a few new things this semester including having the students create animations using GoAnimate based on researching art movements discussed in class. Some were successful and others were not. In general, the students respond better and learn better when actively creating as opposed to just sitting and listening.


Example of Maker Culture in my Classroom – This week in class my students created a design for a letter that they then carved into a linoleum block. They were then able to print the design using a letterpress.

Design is also based around on the creativity and problem solving Paul Gee believes is key to the next incarnation of education. (Gee) Students are given problems for assignments where they must work through a process to solve. We do not provide step-by-step instructions. Student must come up with their own original solutions and often these solutions involve problem solving such as answering a “How do I ….” question. My education was also oriented around this same methodology and I think it makes me better at problem solving and approaching new and unfamiliar situations. I can quickly make a plan to attack the problem and find the resources I need to solve it. It has also taught me not to view a solution not working as failure, but as a chance to grow. This skill serves me well both as a professional designer and as a teacher. I was able to my problem solving skills to work in class by finding a topic to unite my group of seemingly unrelated teaching disciplines. Art educators take great pleasure in this new focus on creativity because we have been advocating the importance of the arts and their role in developing these very skills for decades (should be STEAM instead of just STEM). The arts lead the way in developing creative problem solvers.

Grant Wiggins talks about how educators shy away from assessing creative thought. (Wiggins) I will admit it can be a challenge. It is difficult to explain to a student that an idea that them deem original may be an obvious solution to the problem or done before. This is why it is important for them to start reading about both past and present artists and designers just like CEP811 and the MAET program encourage us to further expose ourselves to past new ideas about teaching, education, and the use of technology. I try to show students examples of work similar to their solutions to provide support to my critique as well as point them towards artists and designers who push the boundaries. Creative thought can also be assessed on the outcome of it. Did it succeed? Was a problem fixed in a new or more efficient manner? How effective is the solution? There is a whole range of ways to evaluate creativity routed in objectivity. I use rubrics with my students like Wiggins advocates for in his blog. (Wiggins) They better assist students in understanding why they got a specific grade and on how they can improve than the typical “Good Job” or “Needs Work” comments I got in my undergraduate education (and they speed up grading). They provide specific, actionable feedback. Parts of the rubric focus on following directions, which is important in design, and parts are focused on the more subject part of creativity and execution. Great ideas also needs follow through. I tend to value the same thorough feedback on my own work. I want to be pushed to improve even when awarded a high grade.

While some of the material was review, the readings for the course provided confirmation of my own believes from a pedagogical standpoint and also often got me to think in new ways. Overall, the MAET courses continue to provide support for my beliefs and challenge me to push even further.

Gee, J. P. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games . YouTube. Retrieved December 9, 2013, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JU3pwCD-ey0

Wiggens, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. Granted, and… ~ thoughts on education by Grant Wiggins. Retrieved December 10, 2013, from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

CEP811: Choose Your Own (SoTL) Adventure

This week for class we discussed scholarly research, specifically Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) research. The goal with this research is to improve a teacher’s skills by conducting research about student learning and about teaching practices. As part of this, I needed to explore the MSU library and get in touch with a MSU librarian. As I’m not that close to campus, I used the chat function available 24/7 to students. The librarian was most helpful in narrowing in on terms to search to get the results I wanted and clarifying a few things about getting full text resources. I’m a fan of librarians. I have a friend who is a librarian and any time I need a resource I can’t find, she is the go to person to dig it up. The fact that a librarian is available 24/7 is quite helpful to night owls like me and students who wait until the last minute to start researching.

I was tasked with completing research related to my teaching and interests. I decided to research a topic that piqued my interest from the reading I complete for the CEP810 class. One of the articles mentioned how Caucasians often misperceive the intelligence of African Americans as lesser because of different culture norms with speech patterns and linguistics. I can see the validity of these claims based on my experiences as an advisor. A higher percentage of African American students score lower on reading and English placement testing than their Caucasian counterparts. After reading these articles, I can’t help but wonder if this is due to the linguistic differences prevalent in their cultures. As I am Caucasian and teach in a urban setting, I want to find out more about this and how to combat it. I welcome any opportunity to learn how to better connect with my students and to eliminate any unintentional biases on my part.

Annotated Bibliography
Eller, R. (1989). Johnny Can’t Talk, Either: The Perpetuation of the Deficit Theory in Classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 42(9), 670-674. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20200272
This article discusses attitudes prevalent in the classroom where students are perceived as deficient based on a theory called Deficient Theory that began in the 1960s as a way to explain why disadvantaged students had trouble in school. According to the author, this theory has helped perpetuate the belief of linguistic inferiority among disadvantaged populations, particularly minorities. She highlights studies that find students successful when allowed to learn within their own linguistic vernacular. The author highlights accepting alternate responses to questions that are correct based on the students understanding even if they are not what the student is supposed to respond. The author advocates that we examine our own biases and avoid labeling children as verbally inept just because their response is different than our own.

Lamos, S. (2008). Language, Literacy, and the Institutional Dynamics of Racism: Late-1960s Writing Instruction for “High-Risk” African American Undergraduate Students at One Predominantly White University. College Composition and Communication, 60(1), 46-81. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20457044
The article focuses on how racist ideologies of language and literacy shaped the development of writing programs aimed at high-risk African American students in the 1960s and 1970s. (p.46) The author talks about desegregation in education and the impacts racism had on these efforts. He discusses how the result of trying to assist the African American community and respond to their needs was to create “high-risk” educational programs that worked off the belief that low-income and minority students lacked the skills to succeed at the college level even if they had the potential to be successful. He highlights that many of these programs did little to change the deeply inbred forms of institutional racism. The programs focused more on forcing the students to change to meet “white” standards for speech and grammar instead of working within the cultural construct of the students. He discusses in great detail several attempts by colleges at the time to create these “high-risk” programs as an effort to increase diversity on campus and opportunity within the African American community. In general, these efforts proved unsuccessful because they really only sought to perpetuate the belief of the superiority of white mainstream language and literacy skills. (p.66) The author asserts that he believes that while flawed, these programs are redeemable if they better address the institutional racism within the programs.

Pearson, B. Z., Connor, T., & Jackson, J. E. (2013). Removing Obstacles for African American English-Speaking Children Through Greater Understanding of Language Difference. Developmental Psychology, 49(1), 31-44. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0028248
This article focuses on the acknowledge that there is a different, non mainstream dialect with the African American community and the fact it remains denigrated in popular culture and education. The authors also highlight examples where students are denied educational opportunities because of their linguistic patterns.  The authors mention court cases where the ruling favored providing resources to children who spoke African American English to better aid the students in completely the material.  The authors mention a document from the American Psychological Association that finds that “culturally learned systems of belief can create negative attitudes at a subconscious level.” (p.31) The authors define what AAE is by providing numerous examples of the differences in linguistics and who typically speaks it. The authors offer several solutions to combat the existing problems with the system including: programs that harness the power of high expectations instead of treating it as a deficiency, programs that appreciate linguistic diversity, and programs that develop different kinds of linguistic awareness, especially dialect awareness. (p.39)

Solorzano, D. G., & Yosso, T. J. (2001). From racial stereotyping and deficit discourse toward a critical race theory in teacher education. Multicultural Education, 9(1), 2-8.
The article discusses linkages between a theoretical framework–critical race theory (CRT)–and its relation and application to the concepts of race, racism, and racial stereotyping in teacher education. (p.2) Critical race theory is described as challenging the current discourse that subordinates certain racial and ethnic groups. CRT specifically has five themes that make up its pedagogy: the centrality and intersectionality of race and racism, the challenge to dominant ideology, the commitment to social justice, the centrality of experiential knowledge, and the interdisciplinary perspective. The authors advocate for teacher education that identifies the subtle negative attitudes and racism within the educational environment and then seeks to find ways to eliminate them. The authors also provide a number of examples of typical statements made to people of different races that demonstrate both racism and the fact that everything connects back to race within our existing culture.

Wei, M., KU, T., & Wang, K. T. (2012). A development and validation of the perceived language discrimination scale. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic minority Psychology, 18(4), 340-351. Retrieved December 6, 2013, from http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0029453
This article focuses on discrimination based on racial minorities and speaking English as a second language. The authors highlight the effects both on achievement and even mention the effects on mental health. The authors highlight that discrimination based on language can occur just about anywhere in everyday life. The article is more of a quantitative study of the issue than a sociological approach like many of the other articles I read. The study looked at a variety of factors included the impact of the discrimination on respondents’ physical health and mental health. In general, the discrimination is self-reported feelings based on the individual’s interaction with the community at large. The authors discuss how this can impact mental health treatment, quality of life, and other barriers to integration within society for those that speak English as a second language.

CEP811: Maker Experiment #2 – Universal Design

This week the focus of our efforts was to explore UDL, Universal Design for Learning. Universal Design for Learning is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn (http://www.cast.org/udl/). This is important in the classroom because educators want all students to be successful no matter what physical or learning disabilities they may have. The goal for this week was to revamp my Maker Experiment #1 to meet the guidelines provided for UDL (View guidelines here: https://sites.google.com/site/udlguidelinesexamples/home).

I have the advantage that the college I teach at has a whole department devoted to disabilities. The disabilities services department provides any resources that students may need in the classroom or at home. They also facilitate communication with instructors so that the instructor knows the specific challenges a student may have and what resources the student needs. In the case of deaf students, ASL interpreters are provided for deaf students in the classroom.

I currently make all lecture materials available to my students in audio format, written format, and provide images or examples. The written format is pdf, which is accessible for text readers (Find out more: http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/accessibility/products/acrobat/pdfs/acrobat-xi-accessibility-checker.pdf). This allows all students to have their choice of method to view the information. Additionally, students are provided with a weekly reading sheet each week that focuses on what vocabulary, people, and other highlights are important for the week. I would add an electronic resource that would include written definitions of important terminology along with images and audio files to support all learning styles.

In general, I believe the activity I designed meets most of the UDL guidelines. However, I would make some key adjustments to better facilitate learner success.

  1. Add more explanation of the Makey Makey including hands on demonstration in class and showing a completed project from start to finish.
  2. Break the project into four stages: initial concept, planning, production, and final presentation. This will help make the task more manageable and allow them to have smaller success along the way. It also allows for more self-regulation.

The activity itself was flexible enough to allow customization for each group’s individual skills and abilities and was designed to be hands on. By working in groups chosen by student interests and skill levels, the students have the ability to choose a solution that interests them and perform the tasks they excel at while having group members to perform the tasks they may not enjoy or excel at. Students will receive feedback from myself along the way as well as assistance at the level and frequency each individual group needs.

The biggest change to the activity was to add additional resources at the beginning of the activity to better introduce the Makey Makey in order to increase student success. The activity itself was already flexible enough to tailor it to individual students and groups based on their interests and skill sets. Design assignments are generally open enough for students to tailor to their own perspective. I encourage students to pursue solutions that interest them. However, we do discuss the role of clients and having to work within constraints.

Overall, the exploration of UDL has triggered some thoughts on how to better work with the students that are extreme outliers on the low skill set end. The high performers were always easy for me to work with, but the other extreme pose quite a challenge. I identify better with the high performers than the other so I am better able to adjust for them. It was good to see that many of the tools I use with my students by providing multiple ways to get the material are actually beneficial from a pedagogical standpoint. Unlike many others in my class, I do not have the same pedagogical training. I do follow my instincts and actively seek feedback from students to help improve my classes. I evaluate what is working and what isn’t. It also helps that I have department on campus to support me when dealing with students with disabilities. I look forward to putting this to work in the future.

“CAST: Universal Design for Learning.” CAST: About UDL. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.cast.org/udl/>.

“UDL guidelines examples.” UDL guidelines examples. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Dec. 2013. <https://sites.google.com/site/udlguidelinesexamples/home>.

“Using the Acrobat XI Pro Accessiblity Checker.” Adobe.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Nov. 2013. <http://wwwimages.adobe.com/www.adobe.com/content/dam/Adobe/en/accessibility/products/acrobat/pdfs/acrobat-xi-accessibility-checker.pdf>.

CEP811: Reimaging my Classroom for the 21st Century

This week we explored the possibilities for creating a 21st century classroom. Teachers across the country are rethinking how the spaces students learn in impact the process of learning and developing solution to address these changing needs. The classroom I chose to reimagine is the main graphics classroom in our building. The room serves many purposes from allowing traditional hands on learning experiences and creation, serves as a place to lecture, a computer lab, a place to conduct critiques of student work, and a open lab for students to work in when class is not in session. The other challenge is that 3 to 5 faculty members and the lab assistants share the classroom each semester. Each faculty member has their own needs from the classroom which means the room needs to be flexible. I also had to consider the fact that some equipment simply could not be moved to another location, like the screen-printing press in the corner. There are a few rooms off this room that serve as storage and one will serve as a washout sink for screen-printing shortly. There are two other classrooms used but this one is used the most.

Photos of Current Classroom


IMG_0656 IMG_0665 IMG_0655 IMG_0654  IMG_0658 IMG_0657In past weeks, I have talked about the fact that most graphics classes follow the learning theories of Constructivism and Experiential Learning. Students are given a problem and some foundational knowledge, but it is up to the student the find his or her own path to his or her own individual solution. The instructor and the classmates offer feedback along the way. My goal with the redesign was to facilitate the exploration process, to allow the students to have access to anything they might need to create their solutions. I also wanted to ensure the room was flexible enough to allow each faculty member to configure the room as they may need. The biggest issues with the room are the lack of storage and efficient layout. The instructor can’t see what the students are doing while demoing. There is not enough room for critique without laying all over the computers. There are two rows of desks that do little and offer little to the students. The equipment the students need like the Xyron machine, the button maker, the screen-printing equipment, cutting mats, book making equipment and everything else are scattered all over the room where ever they can fit. Bulky flat files and cabinets are also scattered throughout. Basically, there is a lot of stuff that works, but could work so much better.

My first goal was to set up zones in the classroom based on the main usage. At the very end of the room, I allowed for more room to conduct critiques. I also added these touch screens for looking at student work that Adobe is developing called Project Context (http://tv.adobe.com/watch/max-2013/a-year-before-the-max-keynote-envisioning-the-context-project/). These screens would eliminate the need to print things out all the time and allow for more productive critiques. I also reoriented the classroom to face that wall and put the instructor behind the students so that the instructor can see what is going on. The instructor has easy access to the front of the room and the whiteboards while going over material. The instructor station could also be used to run the third touch screen on the wall in the work area. I put all the printers and scanners along one wall with storage and corkboards for those wishing to pin work for critique. I eliminated all but the portable light tables because they can be moved to where ever they are needed. The main workspace features moveable tables with storage underneath and stools that can be reconfigured as needed. The very end of the room features tables for cutting, a variety of storage solutions, the smaller equipment like the Xyron machines, and the screen-printing equipment. The tables here are also moveable and feature cutting mats on top. I think this new layout opens up the space and allows for the flexibility for each instructor to meet the needs of their class. I tried to reuse as much as possible to reduce budget issues that may prevent this becoming a reality. This would most likely be done in stages and much of the new storage and tables could be built on site in the woodshop.

Proposed Classroom in Sketch-Up (All items at actual size)


classroom_workstation2 classroom_workstation classroom_work_area3 classroom_work_area2 classroom_work_area classroom_whiteboardclassroom_critiqueclassroom__computer_stations References

“A Year Before the MAX Keynote — Envisioning the Context Project.” Adobe.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <http://tv.adobe.com/watch/max-2013/a-year-before-the-max-keynote-envisioning-the-context-project/>.

Architects, OWP/P , Bruce Mau Design, and VS Furniture. The third teacher: 79 ways you can use design to transform teaching and learning. New York: Abrams, 2010. Print.

Bill, David. “8 Tips and Tricks to Redesign Your Classroom.” Edutopia. N.p., 6 Aug. 2013. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.edutopia.org/blog/8-tips-redesign-your-classroom-david-bill>.

Kahl, Melanie. “4 Lessons the Classroom Can Learn from the Design Studio.” The Creativity Post. N.p., 9 Jan. 2012. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://www.creativitypost.com/education/4_lessons_the_classroom_can_learn_from_>.

Kahl, Melanie. “Remake Your Class: 6 Steps to Get Started.” Edutopia. N.p., 20 Aug. 2013. Web. 25 Nov. 2013. <http://http://www.edutopia.org/blog/steps-to-redesign-your-classroom-melanie-kahl>.

“Remake Your Class – The Third Teacher +.” The Third Teacher +. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2013. <http://thethirdteacherplus.com/remake-class>.


CEP811: Creating a MOOC

This week we explored MOOCs, Massively Open Online Courses. The goal with these courses is to bring education to the masses. Free courses can be taken through services like Peer 2 Peer University and Coursera. I have also personally experienced something similar specifically targeted at those interested in the arts and design through Skillshare which offers a range of courses for free or for a small fee (less than $30). In both cases, these courses offer interested learners a chance to gain access to material and industry leaders that they may not otherwise have access to through the traditional education model.

Create Your Own Typeface
In my Create Your Own Typeface course, my peers will master developing a typeface from initial hand-drawn concept to completed useable font by beginning with sketching and then moving to a finished digital format of the typeface. As part of the course, the students will learn about type anatomy and terminology, which are essential for successfully developing a typeface. By the end of the course, the participants will make a complete typeface including uppercase and lowercase letters and basic punctuation in digital form.

This course will be designed to attract anyone interested in creating their own typeface for use. The course will target beginners who may or may not have familiarity with typography and type anatomy. The course will be mainly aimed at graphic design students or professionals who are interested in the subject but may not have known where or how to get started. While the course would be targeted more at those with at least some graphic design background, the course will not assume any previous knowledge so that anyone with an interest in creating a typeface could do so. As the target audience is graphic designers or graphic design students, the course materials will focus on industry standard software, but will provide links to resources for those who may not have access to the software.

The course participants will interact with each other via forums. Each participant will set up their own thread explaining the typeface they are developing. The participant will continue to post sketches and other images along the way for continued feedback during the project. Their coursemates can then offer feedback at each stage to help the participant improve their work, solve problems, and other feedback.

Week 1 – Typeface Anatomy and Terminology
This first week is designed to familiarize all participants with the basics of type and the terminology associated with it. Participants with design education/experience may not need to spend much time on this, as it will most likely be review. However, for those without the experience, it would be essential to their success in the course. The goal of this week is to provide the participants with background information.

You will learn:

  • What is a typeface? Font? Type family?
  • Basic Type Terminology
    • X-height
    • Baseline
    • Serif vs. Sans Serif
    • Readability
    • Legibility
    • Leading
    • Kerning
  • Type Classification
    • Serif
    • Sans Serif
    • Script
    • Decorative/Display
  • Type Anatomy
    • Ascender
    • Descender
    • Arm
    • Leg
    • Terminal
    • Counter
    • Bowl
    • Tail
    • Spur
    • Loop
    • Link
    • Ear
    • Stem
    • Stroke
    • Crossbar
    • Swash

Materials for the week:

  • Videos on terminology, type classification, and type anatomy
  • Reference sheets for type anatomy and classification

Tasks for the week:

  • Review videos
  • Post introduction on discussion forum, set-up thread student will use in coming weeks

Week 2 – Defining Your Project
This week the participants will define the goals and theme for their typeface. The participant will determine what type of typeface he/she wants to create—serif, sans serif, script, or decorative. The participant will also define what the typeface may be inspired by or what will influence the design decisions. For example, the participant may want to create a typeface inspired by chromatic fonts found in letterpress spec books. Participants will also be provided with things to consider when making decisions about the typeface and pitfalls to avoid.

You will learn:

  • Defining goals for your typeface
    • Choosing a type classification – serif, sans serif, script, decorative
    • How will the typeface be used
    • Will it be readable at small sizes or just at larger sizes
    • What will it be inspired by
      • Book
      • Movie
      • Art Period
      • Historical Type
  • Pitfalls to avoid
    • Don’t just base your typeface on an existing typeface
    • Don’t just digitize your handwriting
  • Searching for inspiration
  • Setting up a Pinterest board with your inspiration

Materials for the week:

  • Videos speaking about how to get started
  • Resources for finding inspiration
  • Guide to using Pinterest

Tasks for the week:

  • Write a two or three sentence statement about the direction you plan to go with your typeface including what type classification it will fall under
  • Create a Pinterest board and pin images that inspire the direction you plan to take with your typeface
  • Post your statement and link to your Pinterest board to the forum
  • Comment on fellow participant projects

Week 3 – Sketching Your Typeface
This week the participants will begin sketching their typefaces on paper. The week will start with a guide to how to get started. The participants will be encouraged to start with pencils and other tools like protractors, compasses, rulers, and French curves. The participants should use their statements from last week as a jumping off point. The participants should feel free to explore beyond the statements if they find they are not satisfied at that point. The material will discuss the creative process and how ideas can evolve from where you start. Participants will post their sketches at the end of the week for feedback from fellow participants.

You will learn:

  • What to start with
    • Establishing the x-height for the typeface
    • Ascenders and descenders
    • Cap height
    • What letters to start with
    • How to use consistent elements
    • Paying attention to type anatomy
    • Double and single story lowercase a and g
  • Tools to use for assisting with the sketching process
    • Pencil and paper
    • Ruler
    • Protractor
    • Compass
    • French Curves
    • Other tools
  • Creative process
    • Evolving ideas
    • Changing direction

Materials for the week:

  • Video tutorials on getting started and the tools to create your sketches with
  • Feedback from instructor and fellow students as participant works through the process

Tasks for the week:

  • Sketch typeface – may not sketch every letter, but should sketch enough to work from when creating the final digital version
  • Post sketches to the forum including questions, challenges or issues you want assistant with from other participants
  • Comment on fellow participant sketches

Week 4 – Perfecting and Scanning Your Typeface
This week the participants will finish perfecting their typeface sketches based on feedback last week. The participants will then scan in their sketches using a scanner. Participants will learn how to improve their scans using Photoshop or another photo editor. By the end of the week, participants should be ready to begin digitizing the typeface.

You will learn:

  • Inking your sketches to help improve the process of scanning
  • How to scan your typeface
    • Scanning using your scanner’s software
    • Scanning using Photoshop
    • Settings to help create a cleaner scan
  • Cleaning up your scans using Photoshop or other photo editing software
    • Focus on using Photoshop and how to get the cleanest file to work from in the next step
    • Provide students with resources to complete the task for other common photo editors

Materials for the week:

  • Video tutorials on scanning and cleaning up the image using Photoshop
  • Additional resource list for other photo editing programs

Tasks for the week:

  • Finalize sketches of typeface
  • Ink typeface
  • Scan typeface
  • Clean up typeface to get in ready for next week

Week 5 – Digitizing Your Typeface
This week the participants will work on digitizing their typeface. The participants should have already scanned in their sketches last week. They will then use them to create a digital version of his or her typeface. The participants will have a variety of software options to choose from to complete this task. Some will free and some will cost money. Participants that are designers will most likely already have access to Illustrator so my tutorials will revolve around that particular piece of software. However, I will provide links to reference materials for the other software programs. By the end of the week, the participants should have a complete digital version of their typeface. They will then post it for feedback by their fellow participants. Participants may choose to tweak their typefaces after receiving feedback.

You will learn:

  • Software to assist with creating a digital version of their typeface
    • Illustrator
    • FontLab
    • Font Forge
    • Font Creator
    • TypeTool
    • Fontographer
    • Glyphs
  • Assist students in deciding on the right software option
    • Cost
    • Ease of use
    • Functionality
  • Using the software to work from scanned in sketches
    • Choose one software program to provide getting started videos to assist participants
    • Direct participants to resources for other software products to assist them if they choose one of the other options
  • Address completing the typeface if participant did not sketch the entire typeface

Materials for the week:

  • Video tutorials on digitizing typeface from sketches
  • Pro/con list for comparing software choices
  • Additional resource list

Tasks for the week:

  • Create a digital version of participant’s typeface
  • Create the typeface in software program of participant’s choice
  • Post the finished typeface in participant’s thread in the forum for final feedback
  • Comment on fellow participant typefaces

Week 6 – Distributing Your Typeface
After designing a typeface, most people will offer the typeface up for use by the public. This week of the course will discuss both free and paid options for distribution. The course will also go over licensing and basic legal considerations a participant should know about before distributing their typeface. Participants will also create a graphic to promote their typeface.

You will learn:

  • Places to distribute your typeface if you so choose
  • Distributing your type face for free, donations, or for a standard amount
  • Licensing

Materials for the week:

  • Resources for distributing their typefaces
  • Examples of graphics to promote typefaces
  • Survey for feedback on the course

Tasks for the week:

  • Distribute typeface through one of the provided sources if participant chooses to do so
  • Create a basic graphic using Photoshop or other software to promote the typeface and show the theme for the typeface established in week 2
  • Complete survey to provide feedback on the course

Instructional Theories
The course, like most art and design courses, will utilize Constructivist principles. Constructivist learning theory purports that learners should be actively engaged, that activities should be interactive and student-centered, and that the instructor facilitates the process of learning. The student’s learning is self-directed and relies on them to explore their own interests or take on the material instead of just one prescribed approach. (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html) While the course gives the users a set of tasks, the manner in which the student approaches the tasks is up to the individual participant. For example, each participant will develop a font based on his or her personal taste and interests. There is no right or wrong solution to the project. The instructor and the fellow participants provide feedback along the way whether in the form of critiques and suggestions to help improve the work, but the final solution, or typeface, is completely up to the student. Participants demonstrate interest in the material be choosing to start the course.

The course also fits into the TPACK framework. The TPACK framework involves the interplay of Content, Pedagogy, and Technology. (Koehler) Ideally, the three work together to provide the most effective educational experience. In my course, the content will be basic typeface anatomy and terminology along with the process of creating a typeface. The Pedagogy comes in the form of using Constructivism learning theories to develop the course structure and materials. The technology comes in the form of the course deployment software (whether I was to use P2PU or another service), the forums, the videos created to demonstrate concepts, and the software used to create the final digital version of the font. All elements come together to form the basis of what I hope is a positive, beneficial experience for participants.

“Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner).” Constructivist Theory. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. <http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html>.

Koehler , Dr Matthew J . “What is TPACK? | TPACK.org.” tpack.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. <http://www.matt-koehler.com/tpack/what-is-tpack/&gt>.

Note: Image is my own created using Illustrator and Photoshop.

CEP811: Maker Kit Experiment #1

For this week, we were tasked with exploring our chosen maker kits further. Then, we were supposed to connect it with both pedagogy and make use of it in an actual lesson plan for our classroom. My chosen kit was the Makey Makey because of some of the art related experiments I saw on their website. The Makey Makey is basically a circuit board that can be connected to your computer and that you can connect it to other objects like bananas. It can be used like a controller or programmed to do more creative things like use bananas to make a piano. (Find out more at http://www.makeymakey.com/) The Makey Makey seems like the perfect tool to teach students about experimentation in art using programming and other technological devices.

Art and design classes are typically centered on learning theories like Experiential Learning and Constructivism. Experiential Learning, developed by C. Rogers, tends to be self-driven and self-motivated allowing users to make better connects to the material and its value (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html). Constructivism, developed by Jerome Bruner, also involves user centered learning motivated by the specific student’s interests and encourages explorations of a hypothesis actively gain knowledge (http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html). Both methods encourage exploration, evaluation, and essentially involve problem solving in some form. Design has always focused around problem solving. A typical assignment or activity involves the student being presented with some base knowledge to frame a problem and then using a given problem statement, like create a logo or develop a social campaign, that they solve individually in some manner. Even when given very limited and specific criteria, solutions tend to vary widely as students employ their own perspectives and backgrounds in their problem solving. These methodologies also allow for far more student centered learning where each student guides their own understanding of the material.

I teach a Graphic Design Survey course that is similar to an art history course. I find they learn little from straight lecture and continue to find ways to put what were are talking about to hands on use. Most of my students do better with the hands on activities over rote memorization and lecture. I believe the Makey Makey can assist with this task when talking about experiments in art and design that cross over and make use technology and programming. I end the semester with a two week exploration of contemporary design and the boundaries being pushed as a result of technological advances. In some cases, it seems like an obvious connection like using html to create websites or computer software to do what used to be done by hand. However, in others, the lines of between art and technology get blurred. One person in particular I like to cite is John Maeda who started as more of a scientist and programmer and now is President of Rhode Island School of Design. His work shows the possibility that exists between blending art and programming (View Work). There are a number of people who have come after him, but he really pioneered this blending of discipline.

After discussing artists/makers like John Maeda, I would then present the students with Makey Makey kits and explain the basics of how to use them as well as guide them to some electronic resources to aid in their projects. After assigning them to groups, I would task them with the open ended problem of combining the Makey Makey with their own art in some meaningful manner. I would provide the below examples of others making use of the Makey Makey  in a similar fashion to give them a jumping off point for the possibilities. The students would then have to use problem solving within the constructs of Experiential Learning and Constructivism to explore the kit itself to figure out what they could create and would want to create. The experience would demonstrate the process of experimentation that the other artists and designers explored while also helping them to connect with the material on a meaningful and personal level thereby increasing the likelihood of mastery of the material (Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L. & Cocking).

Makey Makey Artistic Experiments for Reference

≡ A MACHINES SKETCHBOOK ≡ from Philippe Dubost on Vimeo.
This installation allows you to control drawings of machines that generate words and poetry under your eyes. Technology: vvvv.org, makey makey, projection, hand drawings
Done within the Moment Factory LABS (http://www.momentfactory.com/)

Makey! Makey! from Wolff Olins on Vimeo.
It’s a simple piece of electronics based on an Arduino Leonardo micro controller that lets people from all ages explore new ways to interact with computers. We thought it’d be neat to toy around with the idea of an interactive poster, and Jody has just created a lovely one for the do the green thing campaign. Borrowing a bit of tin foil from the kitchen and a projector, the idea here is that a print based poster gets layered with a video graphic. By touching the poster, you control which movie is playing.

makey makey – fonk and cats 1920×1080 from FONK on Vimeo.

Bransford, J., Brown, A.L. & Cocking, R. R. (Eds.), How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school (pp. 3-27). Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368

“Constructivist Theory (Jerome Bruner).” Constructivist Theory. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html>.

“Experiential Learning (Carl Rogers).” Experiential Learning. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/experiental-learning.html>.

Maeda, John. “Selected Works by John Maeda.” MAEDASTUDIO. N.p., 16 July 2013. Web. 10 Nov. 2013. <http://www.maedastudio.com/index.php>.