Pedagogy Design and Computers page 5


The Computer and the Designer
Some graphic design teachers believe that computers have freed students from traditional requirements such as hand-generated drawing, color, basic design, typography or letterform exercises. Nothing could be further from the truth. The computer relates to graphic designers as word processing relates to the creative writer. You would not teach creative writing by focusing on electronic equipment, but in principle, that is exactly what many art and design educators are proposing to do. What comes out of the computer is no better than what is put into it. My impression is that computer-generated graphic design today is based more on what the computer can do for the designer than on what the designer can do with the computer. The incredible number of options afforded by computers can be both an educational advantage or a pitfall for users. It is the teacher’s responsibility to instruct students in a manner that makes them beneficiaries and not victims of computer technology. This involves sound instruction in visual principles, high standards and teaching the value of self-imposed restraint.

In spite of the previously described conditions and practices, my reaction is that it would be wonderful if I could begin my teaching career all over again as the computer is such an ideal instructional tool.


Too Much Too Fast
The computer provides the student with endless options of size, arrangement, choice and color. Each option is an opportunity to make a decision. The entire process of examining options and making decisions affords an ideal learning environment. The time-lag associated with traditional processes for finalizing a design, in most instances, are reduced to minutes. This permits students to accumulate vastly more experience within the same timeframe than formerly was possible with older methods and processes.

What the student sees on the monitor is close to how the printed piece will appear. This permits changes at a point when the design is still flexible. This is compared to reaching a blueprint stage before discovering the need for change and having a major correction which is time consuming and expensive.

Image, type, design, color and proofing are now combined into one process, where formerly these were done separately. This gives designers control over all aspects of design. Under the older process, it was only when the various elements were completed and brought together that the designer had an opportunity to view the combination of elements.


Teaching Judgment
The judgment to make the best use of the computer comes from values which shape design decisions, and values can be taught. Some values are acquired through knowledge of design history and knowing the various styles and movements shaping design and typography. Knowing the work of recognized designers, past and present, contributes to the formation of personal values. Being visually literate is critical to making sound judgments. Students must know the difference between what is creative and what is novelty; knowing what is clever and what is ingenious. In short, an awareness of the highest levels of design contributes to establishing worthy values. Values are often referred to as standards.

Good judgment in making design decisions grows out of visual values or principles, and these have not changed, only the technology that gives them form. Visual values are the basis for the critical analysis that leads to decision-making regarding the overall visual properties of design. Student understanding of visual principles is critical when using the computer.

Introducing the Computer to Design Students >


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Good judgment
in making design decisions
grows out of visual
values or principles,
and these have not changed.

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