I believe it is very important for students to learn not only the subject matter of the course, but how they can continue to learn throughout their lives. In this way, I attempt to teach using multiple media, and draw a thread between one medium to the next. Allowing students to see the process of creating for users is important not only when brainstorming, but when creating sketches, prototypes, and models. In this way, students “learn how to learn”. As the project goes through the creative process, it is my responsibility to provide a solid foundation of creative and technical confidence while showing new paths of interest and opportunities. Allowing students to relate one work to the next allows for them to create their own connections for a defined focus and relationship.
Regardless of class, whether in Foundation, Digital Media, or Interactive Arts, my assignments are rarely specific, prompting students to use critical thinking skills and problem solving to come up with innovative and interesting ideas. This is different than the step-by-step process of learning in High School, and creating work that goes untested before being done. Although it may be frustrating at first, they soon recognize the projects are not only about following constraints, but more-so about forming a message and delivering it to their user in its intended fashion.
Many times I will start a section with an overview of the subject matter by lecturing, creating connections between past Art and Design practices to contemporary issues and culture. After this introduction, I give the assignment and then continually meet one-on-one with students to guide them through the process of creation. This works directly in to the way critiques are formulated; I prompt the class with questions that I may or may not think will help or harm the piece, and allow for discussion to occur organically.
Above all, I attempt to tailor the assignments to the class and students. As each group of students is different in prior knowledge of the field, speed and learning styles, and strong personalities with differing opinions cause stress that could be overwhelming, but I attempt to foster an environment of conversation and consideration.