CEP 816 Course Work

Manifesto Final Project for ART 122: Graphic Design Survey

The course explores art and design moments starting with cave drawings and moving forward to present day. However, the main focus of the course is from approximately the industrial revolution to present day. Each week, the students read about particular design movements and then we discuss them in class. Students are expected to learn the basic style signifiers for each movement and be able to identify the art or design movement if they see similar images in the future. The art and design movements are also presented in the context of the time period, i.e. when we talk about World War 1, students are provided with some historical background about the war and images from the war. This helps them to better see the work as part of zeitgeist of the time rather than just through the eyes of a modern- day person.

In place of a final exam, the students are tasked with creating a manifesto that demonstrates their take on what design should be in its ideal form. While the project is opinion based and subjective, the students are expected to demonstrate some understanding of the material covered over the course of the semester. It may take the form of them stating their agreement or disagreement with the particular design movements. It may also take the form of a completely new direction they see design going. After completing their manifesto, the students will then take their manifesto and realize it in some type of design whether poster, video, book, website, etc. that helps demonstrate their thoughts on design. For example, if the student’s manifesto stated that design needs to utilize less technology, a website would not be an appropriate choice (unless perhaps to show why technology is bad). Instead, the student might choose to make a book by hand to better represent the ideas.

My plan for my final project in CEP 816 is to create a website that includes an introduction to the assignment along with tools and resources to support the assignment. This would be used in conjunction with in classroom activities and support. I used Weebly to create the site. You can view the complete site here.

New Media Tools Used for Project
Diigo
– This tool allow students to annotate the manifestos while reading them each week. Some of this reading may be a little difficult for some students to fully understand based on past comments from students. By using Diigo, students can highlight things of interest and put notes if things are not making sense to them or provide additional insight if they are so inclined. I am also able to follow what students are thinking and make my own comments and answer questions as needed. It allows me the opportunity to address any issues the students may be having with the material in between classes preventing the frustration that can sometimes occur when students have to wait. The fact that students can anonymously submit comments is of benefit so students don’t feel stupid for asking something the way they may in class. A worry about feeling stupid or looking foolish in front of classmates is often a big deterrent for students getting the help they may need in the traditional classroom setting. I feel using Diigo will the ability to be anonymous encourages students to ask questions, even those they may feel are stupid/silly. I feel like this tool will make them more likely to seek out the support they need for the material. I have created a brief screencast to explain to the students how to use the software and how to complete the assignment.

Blogging Tool (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) – Students are required to complete a weekly blog reflection about the material presented each week. This is an important weekly activity for several reasons. First, it gives them a chance to process the material they see that week and reflect on their opinions on it. Again, past experience tells me, I am more likely to hear from students who feel uncomfortable talking in the classroom in this venue. They often highlight things they like or didn’t like about what went on in the classroom and even will let me know if they need additional assistance. They do this despite knowing this is public and that anyone can see it. Second and perhaps most important to this assignment, these reflections will be helpful when beginning to write their own manifestos. By blogging about the material each week, the students will start to solidify their ideas about design and what design should be for them. Third, the more students write about design and thinking about design the more comfortable they become with writing about it. This is very beneficial when it comes time to write their manifesto because they will have already developed a language for talking about design, something they most likely do not have when coming into the class. The last blog entry will serve as reflection on the process of completing their manifesto. I think it is always important that when students complete major assignments that they reflect on why they did what they did and what they might do differently. A big portion of design is the ability to speak about work and to problem solve through any issues you may encounter on a project. This act of reflecting now helps build these crucial critical thinking skills in way that is more accessible for them. Students are able to choose the blogging tool they feel most comfortable with using. Most blogging sites are free for use. Additionally, most of the blogging sites are fairly easy to use. I usually have them set-up up the blog in the first class in order to assist any students who may struggle with the technology.

Google Docs – Students will type their manifesto in Google Docs. This will allow them to easily share with their instructor, me, and student partner(s) to get feedback. The challenge of only being with students three hours a week is not being able to give feedback during class in a lot of classes. Plus, as my class is at then end of the day, many students benefit from working on assignments when their heads are clearer and more focused. Because Google Docs allows for easy collaboration, students can work on their manifesto when it is convenient for them and then send the link to me and their partners(s) when it is ready. Likewise, it is more convenient for me and their student partner(s) to comment when our schedules allow. Students are able to receive higher quality feedback than what could be occur in a three hour class that also has other activities occurring. Beyond the initial email granting access, either the document can just be opened at a person’s convenience or Google does give alerts to the author and commenters when changes are made. The alerts allow for more prompt notification than may otherwise occur. Additionally, given many of my students do not have access to a wide range of Word processing programs or even sometimes a computer, it is beneficial that the program is free to all students through their Mott email, accessible anywhere where there is internet, and fairly easy to use. Even if students don’t have computers at home, they can go to their local library, a friend’s house, any of the computer labs on campus, etc. to get access thereby increasing the likelihood that they will complete the assignment. The last benefit is that Google Docs automatically backs-up/saves documents preventing the common problem of corrupted, deleted, or files that crashing without saving. This option is not available for other word processing type programs. I do review how to access their email and then Google Docs in class along with a brief overview of setting up a document and sharing it to better assist students who may have never used the software before.

Popplet – Students will use Popplet in order to complete a brainstorming exercise. Popplet will allow them to create a digital type of Mind Map that can easily be shared with classmates and the instructor. I choose Popplet because it allows students to write words, draw, and photos and videos. This most closely replicates a traditional paper mind map in digital form. Digital is important because again we have limited time in class. Many students will work on this assignment outside of class. Popplet allows the students to easily share their Popplets with myself and their fellow students to again receive feedback outside of class. For an activity like this, it is especially important that students can work when they can focus without distractions. Popplet also allows people other than the student to add to the Popplet once shared. This is especially beneficial to me when I give them feedback. I can add notes about my observations and even add images of my own if need be to help the students clarify their ideas. (The same goes for their classmates.) Because it is digital, I can comment between classes to help students keep working and not delay them until the next class if they need help. Additionally, I choose Popplet because it allowed for drawing and adding photos/videos for this exercise in order to address the fact that most of my students are visual learners and may benefit from the option to use more visuals rather than words. The same ultimate goal can be accomplished whether done with words or images. The program is free which is beneficial to the students because many of them do not have extra money to pay software. I have provided the students with a brief introductory screencast showing them how to use Popplet.

Pinterest – As part of the brainstorming stage, students will use Pinterest to gather images of design that they respond to positively. They could also add images they think could be inspirational when moving to the realization stage of the project. This part of the activity will be similar to a Mood Board. Pinterest is often used for the purpose of creating mood boards both in later classes as well as when they enter the professional world. It is a skill they most likely will need to use again. The software may also have already been used by students as it is a popular software program. By creating a board of design images they like on Pinterest, the student will begin to identify what common threads exist between the images they choose. Students may decide to even add some of these image to their Popplet as the activities do not need to be completed in any particular order. It will also help me get a better idea of the direction the student is headed with their manifesto in order to allow me to provide better feedback. As my students tend to be visual learners, this activity can help them tap into ideas visually they may not be able to articulate in words at the start of the activity. Based on what I can see, I can ask students questions to help them put their ideas into words. Pinterest can be easily shared again allowing students to work outside of class and to allow me (and their classmates) to comment/offer feedback outside of class. Pinterest is again free making it accessible to the students. I have provided the students with a brief introductory screencast showing them how to use Pinterest if they have not used it before.

Visualization Tools (Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Premiere, Adobe After Effects, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, PowToons, Weebly, Wix, etc) – Choice of tool will depend on the student’s project. The student’s should choose an appropriate tool based on the content of their manifesto. For example, a student whose manifesto talks about a return to traditional methods might decide to make a handmade book of the manifesto. After the student completes their draft of their manifesto, I will talk to the student about what they are thinking for this stage of the project. I can offer my suggestions as to what program will work best for the solution they come up for their project. I am purposely keeping this part of the project more open in order to address the broad range of skill sets and interests of my students. I want them to find a solution for this stage that is meaningful and interesting to them in order to increase the likelihood of their success with this part of the project. I also feel the flexibility of this part of the assignment prevents the students from writing manifestos that are focused on what they need to execute in this part of the assignment. Instead, students can focus on creating a manifesto that is meaningful and relevant to them as well as then having the freedom to create a solution that both relates directly to the manifesto and again has meaning for them. I have a Resources page with some possible resources to support this part of the project. Students can also ask me questions during the in class work time.

Quicktime – This is more of a tool for me to create videos for posting to the website. The videos will be screencasts demonstrating how to use the tools for the project as well as provide some clarification about those parts of the assignment. I originally used Screencast-o-Matic but there were issue with the sound. I did a test with the screen recording option through Quicktime which yielded a higher quality video and significantly better sound without any additional equipment. The only potential downside to this is Screencast-o-Matic puts a yellow circle around the mouse when it moves allowing you to better track where the mouse is at on screen. Quicktime does not offer the same feature. I tried to make my movements more deliberate on screen to compensate. I also used my cursor to highlight items. I chose to do screencasts because I felt videos would allow me to demonstrate the software the students may not have used before. It also allows me to provide hints and tips based on areas where they may have issues. My students are visual learners so a video satisfies their needs better than a written list of instructions. It also allows students to pause and rewind the material as needed. From my end, the videos do not take much effort for me to make so I can easily update them to address any common problems experienced by the students.

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