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2009 Design Studies Course Blogs

December 3, 2009

The 2009 academic year has ended in New Zealand. Projects have been graded. Exams are finished (don’t we wish?). Final marks are in. I contributed to a few papers and I coordinated two courses, DESI 222 (Communication Design project) and DESI 436 (Design Collaboration).

The DESI 436 students worked together with students in SCOM 407 (Digital Design for Factual Communication), which is one of the courses in the Master of Science Communication programme here at the University of Otago. Students in DESI 436 / SCOM 407 worked in small, mixed groups to produce a blog and a set of podcasts on a topic of their choice within the overall theme of sustainability. The course blog has links to all of the student blogs, which deal with food, student lifestyles, water, education, and Fair Trade. Although the audio interviews conducted by the students were podcast (hosted by Unitube, the Otago’s digital repository), the students found that they worked better when they were streamed from their blogs near the text, images, and links that provide a meaningful context.

The DESI 222 (Communication Design Project) students worked on three projects: a group project to create the marketing material for the Fair Trade Dunedin initiative (an effort to make Dunedin a Fair Trade City), an individual project that involved producing some graphic communication for the Trade Aid shop in Dunedin, and, lastly, a group project to design an event for the 350.org day of climate change awareness. As with DESI 436 / SCOM 407, the course was supported by a public blog and a set of podcasts. Outcomes from the projects will be displayed on a public wiki (some of it can be found here but we haven’t finished it yet). I tried to connect papers together and to create overlaps where I could. For example, the Fair Trade in Dunedin blog was used as a resource by the 200-level students, and students from the Design Department at the Otago Polytechnic joined us for the first third of the semester (they were doing a similar project, so the collaboration saved time and effort).

I am now reviewing how things went this year and have some ideas for changes for next year. My aim is to place more emphasis on the projects that the students work on and to tie their work in my course to the work they are doing in other courses, especially at the 400 level, where this is easier to coordinate. I have some ideas, and I will write about them here when things are a little clearer.

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