Learning Journal Pete MacKay - Edmonton, Alberta

Design for Print & Screen

I am taking this Adobe Skill Builder course because designing for print and screen is a big part of my teaching assignment - Communication Technology. I'm always looking for ideas on how to help my program evolve and stay current. A learning journal is a great reflective practice that I use in other areas of my life and have not really thought of doing so for my daily work. So, here goes...

Class 1: Indesign recipe publication

InDesign Recipe Publication

My wife, Shari, makes the most amazing pies I've ever had the pleasure of eating. I have no idea how she accomplishes it but our friends are always convincing her to have them over to teach them how to make their own. The benefit, of course, is that I often have pie to enjoy when I get home that evening. I took a tongue-in-cheek look at her recipe - from my perspective.

I'm very familiar with InDesign, so my main goal in any basic course or tutorial is to fill in the blanks of my own knowledge. I also often begin my students with template files so they can play around and not get hung up on the minutiae of setting up a new document. I did not know how easy it is to create 'real fractions' from keyboard fractions, so Lukas, thanks for that great tip! I also appreciated hearing about the lock-file and its purpose.

Class 2: InDesign Concert poster

Messy InDesign Layout!

Here's a great lesson I can offer my students - create an event poster. It will compliment my "Event Tickets" lesson plan nicely as well. And we have the means in my classroom to print them when they're done.

I especially enjoyed the Layout and Composition clip. It is a great segue from our foundational unit exploring Typography and the Elements/Principles of Design. I think the practical ideas offered will be of great use to my students as they begin to design their own posters.

My own learning this time was to remember that blending modes are available with InDesign layers. I was able to put together a piece I'm happy with because I was able to incorporate some additional techniques that I've neglected to use in my other work to date.


THINKING ABOUT MY own learning

I am always talking to my students about how design is all around them, imploring them to notice the little details with which they are bombarded every day from marketers, industrial designers, builders, engineers and many others. A favourite method of mine to create lesson plans for my Communication Technology class is to notice something around me and try to imitate it. Look at posters, signage, products, techniques, raster v. vector, ask yourself what's the output?

As I reflect on this practice, which I have not really crystallized in my mind until now, I realize that my learning has gone from the tangible "What button do I click next" approach to a broader, how do I use my visual composition AND technical skills to approach a project or problem. It's starting to show up more in my lessons. For example, I wanted to make a poster to display some basic knots. I've made my own rope for almost 30 years, so I'm quite familiar with how it works and what it should look like. My students do not use rope - they're hopelessly city-bound with little need for rural elements like rope. So, we spend a class making rope. A good 12-15 foot piece for each student that they get to keep for themselves. The second class is spent learning how to tie some knots. The third to sixth classes are then spent making a rope pattern in Illustrator and constructing a poster of the knots they learned. They've learned to solve a problem by taking a broader approach for deeper understanding of the topic. They could have just learned to make a pattern and apply it to some random lines but this lesson gives them a richer experience.

ThinkING about how MY students might learn

So, as my lessons model my own curiosities, I eventually begin to see my students notice more about their own work and the work of those around them. It's not a matter of copy and paste elements of design from the Internet - but seeing them work collaboratively together to be inspired by each other's work is a strong indication that I'm on to something.

I still teach foundational raster/vector illustration skills to my junior students - they need those. But I owe it to my students to have them join me on the same road I've been taking, to expand their skill sets beyond the technical to the more ingrained, natural sense of Creativity that they can come to rely on no matter their career path.

Consider the next steps to engaging MY students with your new knowledge

Next steps in my teaching include having them reflect more meaningfully on their work. I already ask students to curate a Google Site with all of their work. It's a natural next-step to have them add reflections on what they learned, what they found challenging, easy, interesting - and to build a journal within a portfolio...

Created By
Pete MacKay


© Pete MacKay

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