Broadening the Boundaries of Design Communication through e-Portfolio Tools

Karen Lisa Bull, Cherie Lebbon

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationFourth International Blended Learning Conference 2009: "Engaging Students in the Curriculum"
    EditorsElizabeth B. Terry, Amanda L. Jefferies, Alex Bracq
    Place of PublicationUniversity of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
    PublisherUniversity of Herfordshire Press
    ISBN (Print)978-1-90531 3-66-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

    Bibliographical note

    This paper was originally given at the Fourth International Blended Learning Conference: Engaging Students in the Curriculum 17th – 19th June, 2009, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield. The paper is available online at the University of Hertfordshire Teaching and Learning Institute website at: Author's note: The ‘big Write’ (Bull and Lebbon, 2006) has long been viewed as a stumbling block for art and design students. This is often amplified by the fact that many art and design students are dyslexic (HEFCE Special Initiative 1996-9 Project Report ‘Dyslexia in HE Art and Design) and have stronger visual capabilities for problem solving and communication. Design Analysis staff from Coventry University sought to diminish the size of the writing task, encouraging students to use creative and visual skills to present research findings and to demonstrate academic rigour. In 2008 final year students were offered the option of creating a visual demonstration of research knowledge and application rather than a traditional dissertation. A scaffolded approach, widening opportunities for collating a variety of digital information, may help students embrace this potentially richer, dynamic approach to communication. The CEPAD team have been encouraging students to frame and reinforce design arguments through blended learning techniques. Studio-based design activities are combined with e-learning to help record, select, manage and present design thinking. ‘PebblePad’ an e-portfolio system, acts as a non-linear, experimental tool for collating design research and outcomes. Tutors are supported in the framing of design briefs, students are helped to justify and validate findings, ideas and build digital repositories. The emphasis is on interactive approaches to presenting text and visual information. This encourages students to question the media selected to convey ideas and treat visual imagery. We chart the shift of emphasis away from words towards visually stimulating, accurately analysed and researched, rigorously formatted presentations. By examining ways to maintain quality, without a huge word count and student perceptions of this change in approach, we will inform the development of teaching and learning frameworks for the Industrial Design courses at Coventry University.

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