S. Chu, L. Krueger, T. Russell

University of Minnesota (UNITED STATES)
In teaching studio-based discipline, face-to-face critique with students is an important component for providing feedback and improving design work. This also explains the reason why limited literature and case studies are being conducted in studio-based disciplines with online learning. For the graphic design discipline at our university, it has been a long tradition that the curriculum and classes are delivered with a face-to-face approach. Although most of us have used Moodle for class content management for many years, it is traditionally being used as a way to deliver copies of assignments, the class syllabus, weekly schedule, and recording grades. Regular classroom classes are held, and technology usage is usually applied as a supplemental, not primary.

After a year of planning and discussion, we have implemented a pilot study to turn one of our foundation classes, GDes1312 Foundations: Color and Design in Two and Three Dimensions, into a blended and mostly online based learning since Fall of 2014. The course was designed so that teaching course content occurs online and the feedback process occurs both online and in the classroom. A number of teaching videos were recorded and online feedback was given using Moodle feedback forums. The teaching videos go over numerous things: the main objectives and requirements of the assignment, how to use Adobe Illustrator in a step by step process to do the assignment, and visuals of past students’ solutions for the assignments’ objectives along with instructor commentaries pointing out successes and problem areas. All of the teaching videos are supplemented with handouts and static visuals. The Moodle feedback forum is the key to the success of the blended course. Students post their in-progress design work and the instructor provides video feedback. The student’s name is used to provide personalization and the student hears the instructor’s own voice as the instructor visually points out successful areas of the design and areas that could use some improvement. The video can allow the instructor to position a similar design to the student’s right next to the student’s own work as a means of contrasting and comparing. The instructor can, also, take the student’s work right into Adobe Illustrator, during the video, to show alternative ways of approaching the assignment’s objectives.

Our main objective in transitioning from a traditional 100% classroom setting to a blended course (85% online, 15% in the classroom) was to continue to provide students with sufficient feedback. Having both the video feedbacks and the traditional, in the classroom critiques, has allowed this objective to be met.

Mid-term evaluations were conducted and documented in fall and spring semesters. Final course evaluations were also conducted fall semester and the results from students were impressive. 100% of the students, that used the Moodle feedback forum, were pleased with the quality of the videos. Although this is a pilot study, we believe this model opens up a possibility of teaching traditional studio classes with an online approach.