• Design Thinking: 9 Reasons Why Graphic Design is Good for Learning

    by Sancha de Burca of The Graphic Design Project

    ambigram_gdp-jpgSomething that is trending right now is Design Thinking. Not only is this very overt in the creative and design industries themselves but it is also favoured in business, education and any other sector where innovation and new ideas are required. Put simply design thinking is enabling the skills and processes normally used within regular design to help generate and develop ideas across any field where there are users and a need to “solve” a problem. This could be applied to starting a business, designing a hospital or to developing an educational curriculum. I’d describe it as the ability to deal with a problem with logic but also with divergent “out of the box” thinking, finding a creative solution that helps the end users.


    Relevant for homeschoolers and their families is that understanding how to go about a design process properly can build up a whole range of transferable design thinking skills that are really useful for learning and also for anything from cooking the dinner to inventing a new clean fuel to save the planet.


    I’d recommend that all learners undertake at least a couple of design projects during their education because what I have witnessed over the years as a design tutor is that doing design helps, even obliges, people to approach things with a professional attitude and systematic process that enables inquiring exploration and flourishing creativity.
    So, in what ways is graphic design so good for your learning? What does it involve that’ll help a learner to be a better learner? While my list here is linear, the design process is actually very organic and intertwined so each skill feeds the other skills too.


    1. Motivation. Yes, it is fun, it’s contemporary and cool, which motivates people to get involved. The range of graphic design, illustration and photography that is out there waiting to be explored is inspiring, helping learners
    to figure out what kind of creative items they want to make themselves.


    2. Research. This means exploring the rich seam of creative works made by designers, artists and film-makers now and in the past. But it also means investigating techniques and ways of doing things, of getting your hands dirty. This is inquiry learning – the asking of open-ended questions. Research in design equates to precision and meaningful exploration, not meandering around the internet.


    3. Extra topic knowledge. One of the best benefits of doing design projects is that a by-product of the fact-finding is that you’ll learn all about another topic too – the one the design object is about; the subject of the design brief. You can tackle difficult subjects thoroughly and sensitively when pre-occupied with the designing process.design_learner_gdp-jpg


    4. Analysis. Analysis is simply critical thinking applied to help understanding. And the analysis or critical thinking doesn’t stop at understanding the boundaries and opportunities afforded by the brief. You’ll need to constantly apply it to your research, evaluations and ideas.


    5. Generating ideas. One of the most fun parts of design is coming up with ideas and indeed this is why design thinking is applied to disciplines like business and education. Designers learn many techniques for coming up with ideas on demand and this trains nimble minds. Linus Pauling said that to have a good idea you need to have many ideas to choose from.


    6. Developing and evaluating ideas. Evaluating helps you to know if you are doing what is asked for and yet still being innovative. This trains learners to take a professional attitude and not get too carried away or go off at tangents. Being a good evaluator requires some training and asking open ended questions helps with critical thinking and exploration. The idea that a design concept needs to be developed and honed is also a skill of professionalism.


    7. Communicating. Graphic design learners have to be aware of what and how they are communicating at all times. This means thinking about the words they are using and the images that accompany them. But designers also need to be sure of the abstract messages their work is giving off through composition, use of space, typeface style and so on, which makes designers excellent communicators.


    8. Presenting and saving. Any design that goes in front of the public really ought to be perfect, or at least checked and re-checked (you probably can’t be perfect but you can take responsibility for checking). This imbues more good habits in an age of lower case “i” and text speak. Moreover, saving of work in a portfolio shows that you value your work and it’s always ready to show an employer, would-be client or college tutor if those opportunities come up suddenly.


    9. Reflection. It’s no use being sensitive in the world of design – clients may make critiques but it is a good lesson to learn that the criticism is of a design object or a way of working, not of the designer personally. This is hard for some youngsters to come to terms with but it is really good for the psyche once it is mastered. Reflecting helps put into action future developments and this too, like many of the other transferable skills I’ve mentioned, can be adapted to a learner’s education, working and home life.

    If your teen learners would like to try some real design thinking you can see our range of briefs at The Graphic Design Project’s website and you can contact me there if you have any questions about design or design thinking in education.
    Comments 2 Comments
    1. johnedelson's Avatar
      johnedelson -
      It's a good article. I would also add that graphic design is a skill that a person can build a career around. Or you can work part-time or it's a useful skill in other careers.

      One other note, the link at the end of the article has a typo....oops
    1. mikeedison's Avatar
      mikeedison -
      thisi is wonderful post that you have shared here.
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