Business, culture, and media are continually creating new challenges for designers. Traditionally, graphic design was focused on the integration of type and image for two-dimensional printed visual communications. Recently we have seen the field deepen its reach into the areas of social design, information visualization, and interaction design. The graphic designer’s role is evolving to include increased participation in interdisciplinary teams of problem solvers/seekers.
As the field of design evolves, design education must evolve accordingly. The teaching of graphic design must address topics of advanced visual communication while placing special emphasis on message making, visual aesthetics, functionality, and sustainability. Students should actively participate in the understanding and implementation of theory and methods, image-making and typographic design, systems design, information design, ethics and values in design, design history studies, and project development and evaluation. This disciplinary evolution posits the need for designers to engage in analytical exercises that allow them to understand the importance of design within society beyond mere surface beautification. The process of design, along with a systemic approach to designed outcomes, is necessary for today’s design thinker. This analytical engagement allows for designers to develop holistic solutions to ever expanding design opportunities. Teaching assignments should include an integration of both theoretical and applied design problems with a balanced approach toward the appropriate use of electronic media and other, more traditional processes.
Students should be prepared to pursue careers in professional design practice and design education as well as key positions in related marketing, multimedia, and social domains. A strong design education should emphasize the following areas: the processes of design (which include the use of design methodologies and contextual research techniques), design theory, visual storytelling, a clear sense of visual aesthetics as it pertains to graphic design form making, form creation in relationship to meaning and communication, content knowledge, user/audience considerations with a focus on human factors, and the historical context of design. Additional areas of importance include establishing and maintaining verbal and written articulation skills, individual and group involvement on both theoretical and applied projects, professionalism, responsibility, and commitment in attitude and performance.
An effective design educator must possess many different skills: a clear knowledge of the discipline, an enthusiasm and devotion for teaching, the ability to instill passion in his students, and a proficiency in challenging students to arrive at their own conclusions by posing questions rather than simply providing answers. There are also many interpersonal skills that contribute to one being a good educator: patience, the desire to lend support and encouragement, the ability to listen and understand student needs while pushing them to achieve their highest level of excellence, and efficiency in working with students of different skill levels.